A CIO's Keys to Cloud Adoption SuccessBy Guest Author
A CIO's Keys to Cloud Adoption Success
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.
A CIO's Keys to Cloud Adoption Success
Adapting to a New Cost Structure
Many companies encounter difficulty when shifting to the new cost structure of a cloud-based environment because legacy infrastructure is typically purchased as an upfront capital expenditure for each department or application based on its individual compute and storage needs. Departments often view the operational cost of facilities to run these applications as “free” because their departments don’t see the cost passed on to them—even when usage spikes cause significant space, power or cooling requirements.
However, cloud technology necessitates a change in the way infrastructure resources are paid for, since these resources are now being provided as a service based on actual use across all cloud-hosted servers, storage and network resources. The IT finance organization must help determine the best way to change IT procurement and payment policies and shift to a new process for charging for services and receiving payment.
One of these challenges is shifting to a chargeback model, which charges each application and business group according to the amount and type of cloud resources they use. CIOs should start with a showback model, which will show business users what the cost of IT resources in the cloud environment will be, based on utilization and performance measurements for each resource. The showback approach helps organizations implement a chargeback model and establish cost accountability.
Overcoming Resistance and Achieving Security Buy-In
Companies often encounter challenges involving staff resistance, but legacy application owners and IT stakeholders must be willing to adapt to change for a successful enterprise private cloud deployment. One of the hardest decisions for CIOs is often whether to retrain or replace the existing operational support organization.
While retraining is generally preferable, an associated mindset paradigm shift may be needed: from running a legacy environment to running a private cloud. The convergence of storage, servers and network requires staff to manage all three, so IT operations and application teams must be able to work across IT silos.
It’s also imperative to achieve buy-in from the security group before deploying a private cloud, since this department is often risk-averse when it comes to new technology. The security group is responsible for ensuring that the transition to new cloud technology will not put the organization at risk.
CIOs should determine whether the security and threat management team is knowledgeable about cloud environments, and then either provide training or hire new security staff well-versed in cloud technology. This includes knowledge of virtualized network security and being able to establish rules for varying levels of security associated with each type of IT infrastructure in the cloud. Taking these actions is vital to minimize issues with cloud security before deployment.
Cloud technology offers many benefits, but adoption does present challenges. One of the best approaches to addressing these challenges is to start by building a private cloud with the capability of “bursting” to the public cloud for certain IT functions and applications, depending on security and management requirements.
CIOs can optimize the benefits of their cloud investments and minimize risks by taking the time to develop and implement plans for cloud-driven change in organizational structure and processes. This approach empowers CIOs to deliver the speed and agility of cloud infrastructure to their organizations while sidestepping common adoption hurdles.
Joy Sim is an analyst at management consulting firm Pace Harmon, which provides advisory services on issues such as strategic sourcing, vendor management and supply chain management.