CIOs can optimize the benefits of cloud investments by developing and implementing plans for cloud-driven changes in organizational structure and processes.
By Joy Sim
Many CIOs are shifting their company from legacy systems to cloud technology to reap wide-ranging IT infrastructure benefits, including increased agility, scalability to support growing demands, better embedded security and reduced provisioning time. These benefits enable IT to be more responsive to the changing needs of internal business initiatives and make it easier for the business to use IT resources.
The three types of cloud models—private, public and hybrid—differ based on who owns the hosting and operational support of the infrastructure. Delivering infrastructure as a service (IaaS) in a private cloud environment enables organizations to adhere to security and compliance requirements by keeping data in house and meeting regulatory requirements for data management and storage.
In this model, shared infrastructure resources and dynamic resource allocation allow for a smaller hardware footprint and faster service delivery than traditional siloed legacy hardware environments. However, it is more costly than a public cloud model, since the organization owns the infrastructure and runs day-to-day operations.
While a hybrid cloud model is often ideal—using a combination of commercial public and on-premises private cloud components according to specific uses and scalability needs—a private cloud model is a good starting point for enterprises because it provides higher levels of control and security. To achieve a successful migration to a private cloud, CIOs should establish a clear road map to overcome common migration hurdles and engage all relevant stakeholders in the process.
Migrating to a private cloud environment requires significant planning because a company’s IT team must transition from operating as a cost center to becoming a service provider for the overall business. This requires an entirely new IT structure and operational skill set, since the whole organization must undergo a paradigm shift toward becoming service-driven.
As in many transformation projects, the three keys to successful adoption of the cloud are people, process and technology. Technology is the most straightforward to implement, but people and processes can make or break cloud investments.
Reinventing the IT Service-Delivery Model
To begin the change, CIOs must reinvent the organization’s service-delivery models by transforming the processes, roles and policies that provide IT service to the business. The first step is to create an IaaS service-definitions document that describes what the cloud offers. This should include a list of cloud service offerings, types and sizes of resources (small, medium, large compute or storage infrastructure sizes) that a business group can request, along with service tier options.
Service tiers should be customized based on the nature of the organization and its critical needs. For example, in a hospital setting, it is vital for mission-critical applications to continue running even if the network is down because life-or-death situations are involved. In this example, a premium service tier would be required, involving higher uptime guarantees (e.g., 99.999 percent service availability with disaster recovery enabled), dedicated rather than shared resources, and more frequent access, compared to applications that don’t affect lives.
In addition to outlining the cloud offerings, CIOs should develop a cloud governance model for the IT organization to evaluate monthly. This model covers resource volume allocation for each region or department, protocols for making procurement decisions for cloud infrastructure (when, how much, from which vendor, what technology, etc.), as well as change-management plans.
Since many organizations outsource some or all components of cloud deployments, having a well-established and clear governance model helps ensure alignment on organizational policies and changes to operational aspects of the cloud environment. The cloud governance model should be implemented in parallel with or shortly after the technology deployment.