Assessing the challenges of your cloud computing journey

Chicken and eggs and clouds (Oh my) 

If your organization isn’t already dipping its toes into the cloud, it inevitably will in 2012. Quicker speed to market, universal availability for users, improved flexibility and ability to free up resources, with reduction in total cost of ownership, make cloud computing a no-brainer.

At least that’s the hype most business leaders have bought into.

The truth from an IT perspective is a bit more nuanced. The cloud is not, for lack of a better metaphor, heaven on earth. There are risks, hiccups and complications that every organization will experience with a profound transition like this. But the truth also happens to be that cloud computing can benefit your company – and your competitors – in a variety of very real quantitative and qualitative ways (In other words, sometimes a lot of the hype turns out to be true).

Cloud migration is serious business with major capital investment. And as with any change of this magnitude, you’ll need to understand the risks, develop business and IT strategies, scope technical feasibility and costs, put together impact assessments and develop an air-tight business case, long before your cloud project is ever launched.

At Softchoice, our team can separate hype from reality on the ground, guide you through the entire decision-making process, help initiate conversations within your organization and perform due diligence to create a roadmap that makes it all unfold as smoothly as possible.

Here’s how we see the journey taking place as well as some helpful tips and thought-starters to consider along the way.

Step 1: Where to begin?
No matter what kind of organization you operate, chances are the spark to investigate your journey into the cloud will come from one of three areas: user-centric applications, desktop virtualization or your infrastructure/data center. But it turns out all three are so closely intertwined that whichever point you enter from, it will quickly lead you to the other two. It’s a chicken or egg scenario that ultimately doesn’t matter much in the long run – regardless of your starting point, as you move into your exhaustive decision-making process, you’ll find yourself investigating the implications of that entry across all three options anyway. The important part is to just get started.

Step 2: The real decision-making gets underway.
As the CIO, Infrastructure VP and technical teams begin examining your cloud computing strategic ask with the goal of eventually formulating a business case response, you’ll invariably set in motion a painstaking go/no-go decision-making process:

  • First there will be an investigation of the high-level business and IT options being considered.
  • Second, a deeper technical assessment of the hardware and software impact of the handful of choices you’re considering, with support from vendors and third-party independent partners.
  • If that’s a go, you’ll move forward to the third big step: building the business case that convinces the board of directors

Step 3: asking for help.
It’s one thing for the technical teams or vendors to start with strategy and technical feasibility that lead to a viable business case. It’s quite another to have the time and capability to do it, as well as the specific expertise, best practices and third-party independent point of view to make it happen on-time and on-budget. That’s one big area where Softchoice can help – supporting and guiding IT through the decision-making maze to find the best technical solution for your organization.
For instance, as you build your business case, Softchoice is well equipped to offer high-level impact analysis on application integration efforts, risk assessments on application migration hurdles and a clear estimation of implementation costs and benefits associated with moving applications, desktops or infrastructure into the cloud.

Plus, because these various evaluation processes become more complicated as you investigate options and costs on each decision point, we’ve developed useful techniques like mind maps that help keep track of and visualize all considerations in play, supporting them with detailed spreadsheets, notes and quotes where required. It’s just one of many ways where Softchoice expertise and exhaustive processes can simplify your evaluation of benefits, risks and costs.

Step 4: making sense of it all.
However you decide to implement your cloud computing strategy, let’s face it: your organization’s existing infrastructure investment will continue to operate regardless – which means, realistically, you’ll be living in a hybrid world for years to come. At the end of the day and at its most basic, the cloud is simply another IT service delivery model, one that your organization will need to leverage in a way that makes the most sense – and cents. And your ultimate decisions will always need to loop back to a couple of basic questions: where is your business headed and how will IT enable your technology journey?

As your organization and iT technical teams move forward, answering these questions may help:

  1. When was your roadmap last refreshed?
  2. How effective are you at implementing technology solutions against that roadmap?
  3. Does your organization see IT as an enabler of innovation and business results or a support organization that cannot move fast enough?
  4. What forces are enabling and propelling your cloud vision and strategy? What forces are holding you back?
  5. In terms of skills, competency and certification, are your staff ready for the move to the cloud?
  6. What impact will moving to the cloud have on your IT financial reporting controls?

Whatever you decide, Softchoice is ready to equip you with the answers. Connect with us today.

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About Joel Marans

Joel leads our Digital Marketing efforts at Softchoice.