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How Do You Answer the Question: Is Cloud Right for My Business?

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Awhile back, David Linthicum wrote, The Biggest Question I Get: Is the Cloud Right For My Business? How do you answer that question, and are there any businesses the cloud is not right for?

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  • A reasonable question, but illustrates the lack of understanding regarding Cloud Computing in the industry. There is not a single business that would not benefit from some aspect of the best practices that Cloud Computing represents. For certain, they will gain in one of the following areas:

    1. Lower operating overhead
    2. Reduced power consumption
    3. Higher utilization of existing infrastructure
    4. Better user experience
    5. Simplified capacity management & planning

    The question is what is the impact to their current business processes to be positioned to take advantage of these best practices. Therein lies the most critical hurdle for businesses regarding Cloud Computing.

    Hence, the real question is, "Can you shift your approach to your business to be positioned to take advantage of Cloud Computing innovations?"

  • A more suitable question would be: when would the Cloud be right for my business?. The answer is when the lifecycle of your existing technology permits.
    A condition though, for some businesses, would be to make sure that the Cloud information security and privacy conditions are satisfied.

    In the end, the prime time for moving to the Cloud, is coming when the Cloud technologies will be standardised in terms of services and API for infrastructure, platforms and key applications.

  • It is a good question, and to be honest, the answer will be different depending on each individual company...

    @JP to simply state all companies will benefit from those 5 points is quite wrong. First of all you need to take into consideration what could actually be moved to the cloud, and lets also take into account, LOB security, compliance and integration between LOB applications...So how many processes and applications can be moved successfully? A limited number....

    So then we need to look at what has to remain in house, or at a data centre. For many organisations it will be more than likely that it will be far cheaper and have zero impact on power consumption etc to simply piggy back on the infrastrucutre they have, or need for those LOB solutions that must be kept out of the cloud...

    All too often I hear analysts stating every business will benefit from the cloud, when the simple truth is that not every business will or would...Sure every business could leverage the cloud in some way, but is it right for them is the question...And the answer to that can only be found once looking deeply into what the company does, what the company has, and what the company can leverage....

    Finally point 4, better user experience, I have to strongly disagree with. I havent seen any "cloud" applications that compete to desktop based apps, for functionailty, richness, usability, end user experience etc etc. Most cloud applications are still based on "browsers", complicated java script etc etc. The only time a cloud based application can compete with a desktop application is when you look at technologies such as Silverlight running out of the browser, as a trusted and secure application...At the end of the day, this is a desktop application that utilises the cloud for its services and data...

  • When making these decisions, we should reframe this kinds of question into the form of, “Is the Cloud Necessary for My Business?â€? I have written about necessary (without these things you fail) and sufficient (with them you might succeed) characteristics for a long time. The “Is It Right for Me…â€? form is a Sufficiency form in that you can always for reasons for say “No.â€? That is, all you need is one No response in all the rationale to make the final answer No.

    The “Is it Necessary for Me…� response, on the other hand, requires just one Yes in order for an actionable decision to be made. If the cloud is a necessary element, that is, some element is required for your business to be successful, then you need to cloud in order not to fail. It is quicker to work through this multi-dimensional decision process with necessarily-based questions than trying for justify all the reasons needed to prove if will make you successful.

    With that as a background, for most companies working to connect their value chain into the value chain of their partners and clients, then the cloud IS A necessary component of the value creation process. Think about how Walmart has used the cloud to flatten their 30,000 member supply chain into just 4 layers. Without the cloud, being a necessary component, they would fail to deliver on the low cost promises to people like you and I.

    So, when looking at the cloud, ask yourself this: “Can I find just one area where the cloud is necessary for me to do business?� If the answer is yes for that one area, then the answer is yes for the company.

  • The question that must be answered is not whether the business as a whole can benefit, of course it can in some way, but what *applications* can benefit from cloud computing without incurring so many negatives that it's actually detrimental to the business and IT to move the application.

    It's easy to say "commoditized business applications" should be moved to SaaS environments and sure, it sounds great on the surface, but when you dig in to what's required you might find that the additional security, integration, and potential for more downtime may offset the benefits of on-demand pricing and offloading of management and maintenance of the supporting infrastructure. Thus it may actually be a poor choice.

    It's about balancing business and technical pros and cons for each application. No application is an island, it's got to evaluated for cloud suitability across a broad spectrum of variables. Business benefits should not be offset by technical negatives, and vice versa.

  • One can envision a few scenarios.

    - Companies which deal with very sensitive data - intelligence agencies, financial organizations.
    - Very large companies, with tens of thousands of employees. These are scales at which the cost savings of the cloud are not clearly established. But the benefits of the cloud go much beyond costs isn't it?

    Pankaj
    http://www.hyperoffice.com

  • Like some of you, I agree that it would be hard to envision how a business would NOT leverage Cloud Computing for some aspect of IT, even if that's just infrastructure or hosting.

    But since I live in the SDLC - the world of making applications and I'm not as concerned with hosting them, I think that Cloud for the software lifecycle will be right for the smallest startups, and the largest enterprises for building their applications.

    The smallest companies, because they have the freedom to make every architectural decision with the Cloud in mind, and design their new apps for that specific goal.

    The largest enterprises, because they need the agility of Cloud development and test environments to eliminate many of the capacity and accessibility bottlenecks that come with the momentum a huge existing architecture.

  • This leads into the public vs. private debate, which is really a question of needs, and there are a few things to think about:

    -What workloads are being considered?

    -How much ownership do you want over the infrastructure?

    -How quickly do you want to be up and running?

    -Will cloud be treated as a capital or operational expense?

    Public clouds are ideal for a variety of situations including conferencing, continuity and data recovery, customer relationship management (CRM) or salesforce automation. They also offer improvement in system reliability and availability, as well as enable consumption-based pricing.

  • Exactly, Jeremy, the question is which Cloud is or may be right fro my Business...

  • Hi all,

    I think Dr. Smith has it right. People are thinking too narrowly in terms of what the cloud represents. It's not about having infrastructure somewhere else or sourcing 'commodity applications' differently. These may be the low hanging fruit visible to IT folks currently but they are a symptom of the impact of cloud and not the whole story. The cloud is all about lower transaction costs of collaboration and so whilst we're currently seeing this disruption playing out in the IT industry (through the inevitable commoditisation of technology and a move towards shared computing of all kinds) it is inevitable that other industry disruptions will follow and force reformation of those also. Essentially all businesses need to become more adaptive, more connected and more specialised to succeed in the next ten years and the cloud will both force this and support it. As a result - for me at least - it isn't a question of whether the cloud is or will be right for your business but how 'right' your business will be to survive in the cloud. Making best use of new IT delivery models for the business capabilities that remain in your direct control will be a key part of making your reformed organisation fit for the new business ecosystem.

    Ian

  • Cloud computing is a technology that uses the internet and central remote servers to maintain data and applications. Cloud computing allows consumers and businesses to use applications without installation and access their personal files at any computer with internet access. This technology allows for much more efficient computing by centralizing storage, memory, processing and bandwidth.

    A simple example of cloud computing is Yahoo email or Gmail etc. You dont need a software or a server to use them. All a consumer would need is just an internet connection and you can start sending emails. The server and email management software is all on the cloud ( internet) and is totally managed by the cloud service provider Yahoo , Google etc. The consumer gets to use the software alone and enjoy the benefits. The analogy is , 'If you only need milk , would you buy a cow ?' All the users or consumers need is to get the benefits of using the software or hardware of the computer like sending emails etc. Just to get this benefit (milk) why should a consumer buy a (cow) software /hardware ?


    The below are the Factors that needs to be considered when Moving to Cloud infrastructure.
    Business and Application Assessment: The objective is to determine what applications are cloud ready. This can be done in a four-part analysis: business impact analysis, application assessment, cost analysis, and the impacts on the organization.
    Vendor Selection Process: The objective is to meticulously examine a vendor’s service. Cloud vendors details should be transparent and meet application requirements. The scenario may arise where the application is ready for cloud, but cloud is not ready for the application.
    Residual Risk Mitigation and Limit Liability: The objective is to mitigate unavoidable risk. The best way to mitigate risk is though up-front planning, exit strategy, and cloud brokers and liability insurance, but some risk cannot be avoided.
    Steady State: The objective is to inject cloud management principles into everyday operational procedures. Do this by employing sound cloud governance procedures and measuring how the adoption strategy is meeting the defined business objectives.

  • Beyond better–faster–cheaper, Cloud will also enable entirely new business models and revenue streams.

    Acceptance will accelerate as Cloud architectures demonstrate new opportunities via business innovation and functionality.

    Second is the network platform. It is critical to providing intelligent connectivity within and beyond the data center. Plus, it must enable distinctive functionality in a secure, trusted, and ubiquitous platform.

    The network is the natural home for management and enforcement of policies relating to risk, performance, and cost. And sees all data connected resources, and user interactions over the public internet, as well as within and between Clouds. The network is thus uniquely positioned to monitor and meter usage and performance of distributed Cloud services and infrastructure.

    Furthermore, the network plays an important role in promoting resilience and reliability. For example, the network supports dynamic orchestration, scheduling, and redirection of workloads and intelligent automation to reconfigure resources. Since a network is inherently aware of the physical location of resources and users, its context-aware services can anticipate the needs of users and deploy resources appropriately, balancing end-user experience and cost of service.

    Third, multiple approaches are required to accommodate diverse customer objectives. As the paper explains, there is no single road to Cloud, but rather a wide variety of entrance ramps and paths. On the demand side, organizations have different starting points and different objectives. On the supply side, service providers will seek to differentiate their offers. Regulatory regimes across different geographies will impose different constraints around data storage and transport.

    For both Cloud customers and Cloud service providers, success depends on navigating a complex and rapidly changing landscape. While customers should aspire to decouple individual vendor offerings from the services they require to avoid vendor lock-in, service providers should adopt open standards for interoperability that enable best-of-breed players to contribute innovations while minimizing complexity.

    Lastly, innovation will facilitate adoption across the IT industry. From data center design to end user-applications and business processes, innovations can occur at all levels of the stack. some “hot spots� of technology innovation include extended memory in servers, cache-enabling routers, solid-state storage systems, converged infrastructure, stateless infrastructure provisioning, ultra-scale distributed databases, real-time analytics, multi-channel content delivery, seamlessly integrated online and offline experi­ences, more intuitive user interfaces, and reduced power consumption. Although, these innovations are aimed at different levels in the Cloud communications architecture, ultimately they will result in more powerful, secure, efficient, and sustainable IT for end-users.

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