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Best Practices on Developing a Successful Cloud Strategy


success-34-c.jpgI have been fortunate in having many opportunities to work with different types of clients in various vertical industries. While not every organization has the same challenges when moving to the cloud, I do see one common theme that, while many of them understand the benefits of cloud, they don’t know how to get there. Many of them believe that if they virtualize everything, they will be in the cloud. And that is simply not the case.


As an example, I was recently working with a large global media and entertainment company. Their IT group was asked to embrace the cloud. So, they purchased virtualization software, a lot of new servers, storage and networking devices, and when they put everything together, they don’t know what kind of business services they can provide to their business users besides the simple compute and storage services. Very few business users know how to take advantage of it, how much it will cost them and how they will be different from the traditional model. After six months, the cloud investment turned out to be underutilized and under-valued by the businesses.



Do Not Think About Cloud Products First


The problem for many organizations is that they were developing the cloud strategy in the wrong order. Most started with evaluating the technologies and products, and then trying to figure out what the business outcomes could be.

To avoid this situation from happening to you, I recommend you to follow the practical steps in the right order:


  1. Have a clear understanding of the business outcomes you want to achieve
  2. Develop a portfolio of services or applications with capabilities that can deliver those outcomes
  3. Determine the optimize mix of service delivery models based on the service requirements and desired outcomes


Define Business Outcomes


First and foremost, you need to have a clear understanding of the business outcomes you want to achieve with any cloud initiatives. Are you looking to consolidate your IT footprint or are you trying to deliver better services to your employees so they can speed up new product development, or engage the end customers better. The better connection you can make between the cloud investment and the business outcomes, the higher your chances of success.



Define Cloud Service Portfolio and Capabilities You Need


Based on the desired business outcomes, you should develop a portfolio of services or applications with capabilities that can deliver those outcomes, sometimes we call it the service catalog – a menu of services you offer to your users. For example, if you need to support your online business, you need to be able to scale up and scale down compute resources quickly to meet the changing electronic transactions on line. Speed and performance is important here. If you are building a cloud-based medical record system, security and compliance are important here. So you need to clearly identify what services you need and what are the requirements for those services.



Find the Optimal Mix of Service Delivery Models


After you clearly identify what service capabilities you need, you can start looking for what is the best delivery model for each of those services, whether you want to build yourself, or have someone build it for you, or perhaps you want to consume those services from someone else if they can meet your needs. There is no reason to build everything yourselves if someone else can do that for you. Find the optimal mix of hybrid service delivery model that matches your need, the service requirements and your financial constraints.



How Do I Get Started?


Companies that have sufficient internal expertise can start themselves by have a discussion between IT and the business units. For those that do not have the experience, I suggest you work with a trusted partner, someone who has done this before and can help you along each phase of the journey.


Work with someone who has done it successfully, do not rely on marketing fluff or too-good-to-be-true sales pitch. Ask the vendors what they have done for their customers, and ask them for proof. To be successful in cloud, you are not looking for a killer product. You are looking for a partner who can share the risk with you. You need someone who can show you what to do and what NOT to do. At HP, we have done thousands of client engagements - from providing advice, doing an opportunity assessment, building a roadmap jointly with them, and ultimately transform their environment, people and processes. We are happy to share best practices with you. Oh, by the way, ask us what we have done for ourselves and for others.


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