When formulating your Cloud Computing strategy, as I’ve learned though my work on Cisco Cloud Enablement Services, there are a wide range of topics you should examine before finalising of your approach. This range of considerations will – clearly – be specific to your environment, your opportunities and constraints. In this blog post, I’ll outline these key strategic considerations to help you as you investigate if, how and where cloud could help you [no bias here, no technology religion either!].
In my previous blog article, I made the case that cloud computing is not all hype (although I’d understand if you had that view, based upon current industry press and analyst coverage levels). I identified several key use cases where Enterprise IT organizations and Service Providers could – today – significantly reduce key aspects of their IT costs and generate new high value services (respectively) to offer to their business unit stakeholders and customers. Our own market research has shown that a sizeable portion of our customer base (25% out of 700+ who responded to our market research survey) are either actively considering and/or developing cloud computing plans today, or plan to over the next 1-3 years (26% of respondents). Investigating, formulating and evolving their strategy for cloud adoption is a key activity in many of our customers. For this blog, I will discuss factors that we’d recommend you consider as you develop your organization’s cloud computing strategy. I’m basing this on my work in Cisco Data Center Services, working on Cisco Cloud Enablement Services.
First, let’s take a step back and consider the term “strategy”. To me, having been convinced by my MBA school, strategy is not an end result, it’s a process by which you evaluate your options, and decide – with your constraints and opportunities – what is your best path to your chosen destination. For me, the key is evaluation of options. You may not choose to execute on an option, however I would argue it’s important to evaluate all major options, rather than ignore it. So what I will cover here may include factors you will decide are not part of your cloud computing strategy, however I will argue it’s important that you consider them first, before discounting them. After all, when you present your strategy and proposals to your management, it’s good to say “we’ve considered all the bases, and here is what is most important to our organization”. And if you are being advised by someone who is not discussing at least this range of strategic questions with you, you may want to re-consider their advice!
OK, what’s important when formulating your cloud strategy? Let me give you some insight from both our customer discussions across the world, and also from our market research study, by highlighting a selection of what customers told us they’d like Cisco Services to help them with:
- Security – and Security and Security – holistically across the cloud architecture
- Deciding what services you should offer via your cloud: what are the requirements on your service catalog?
- Understanding where cloud computing architectures could help your business– indeed where and if they can! And how does our current infrastructure architecture need to evolve?
- Application migration considerations: what applications can benefit from the cloud advantages?
- What are the costs, the savings, new revenue opportunities, and the overall financial return?
- How should our operational processes evolve and change as a result of migrating some IT services to the cloud?
- Analyzing your management automation strategy – what current tools are appropriate, what new investments are most appropriate, to capitalize on the promise of cloud?
- Chargeback and metering – is this appropriate and what options do we have?
- What should our cloud transformation roadmap look like?
Bear in mind here that I am emphasizing the most significant cloud strategy considerations here – our survey also examined customer views on design and implementation challenges, not just cloud strategy. I’ve not covered these other aspects here, in case you are thinking… “what about …”.
The large number of customer inputs we received here – over 700 customers helped us understand what is important – I hope will justify the credibility of the insight here. In other words, it’s not just my personal opinion here! And clearly the learnings from this market research, coupled with our customer engagements, were incorporated into our Cisco Cloud Strategy Service.
Now that I’ve identified them, I’ll talk more about some of these strategic considerations in my next blog. Within Cisco Services, we’ve helped, and are currently helping, many customers with these (and more) considerations. If you’d like a Cisco perspective on considerations you think are important that I’ve not touched on here, let me know and I’ll cover them in future blogs.