Cloud Delivery or Cloud Abdication?

When it comes to migrating to cloud delivery of services, companies spend lots of time and management bandwidth on strategy and migration. Why should I do it?  What’s the RoIShould we go Private/hybrid/public?  Which elements: SaaS/PaaS or IaaS?

But there is a far bigger element that too many companies ignore.

Strategy and migration decisions tend to be one-off projects – “Do we have a cloud strategy? Tick. Implemented? Tick”. The reality is that the decision and implementation projects, are just one small step in the lifetime and cost of your new IT service delivery model. By far the biggest element – and arguably the least interesting, which is probably why it doesn’t get the attention it deserves – is the day-to-day operation, growth and governance of the cloud service.

If cloud delivery of your IT services is to be successful, then it needs to be thought of as your ‘business as usual’ methodology that will be in place over many years.

Blindingly obvious? You would think so. However, our experience shows that having decided and transitioned IT delivery to cloud providers, the new cloud customer rapidly loses interest in the basic due diligence that ensures the service continues to run as it should. The approach can be summed-up as “it’s their problem to run our application/platform/infrastructure now, if there’s an issue we’ll just give their account manager a hard time and ask for a rebate”.

Even if this works in the short-term, it won’t in the long-term. I have seen CIOs end up in a situation where their internal organization is completely bypassed as the cloud provider has all the direct communication with the end user. And this is not just for support: new services were being purchased from the cloud provider without reference to any of the internal IT processes. Chaos.

So what to do? Whilst the cloud strategy and migration are biased towards technology, the day-to-day operations must be biased towards people and process. Here are a few pointers:

  • Have you changed the IT organization to have more of a supplier/customer management focus than a technology bias? Do you need that team of six sysadmins now? What should the technology/services management balance be?
  • Who remains accountable internally for the IT service delivery from the cloud provider? Is it their main role or an add-on to their management of any remaining internal services? If it’s an add-on, are you sure that are motivated and rewarded to see success and growth of an external service?
  • Nothing stays still. How will you manage the increase/decrease of services/users? What is maintenance and what is a ‘change’? [Don’t scoff, I’ve spent far too many hours of my life in meetings where customers/providers have bounced this question around!]

Whilst there are more of the above to consider, I want to contradict myself slightly: the time to consider these points is back at the strategy phase. Thinking through what your organization and processes will look like at that stage will save time – and a few careers.