New report combines input from Canadian experts to provide guidance on enterprise cloud adoption planning, strategy and use.
The Toronto Cloud Business Coalition – a group of more than 40 Canadian experts drawn from the IT management, cloud services provider, channel, academic, VC/corporate finance and consulting communities – has published a new document examining best practices developed by enterprises deploying cloud technologies. The document includes input from a working group led by six TCBC members: Shawn Rosemarin of VMware, Roy Hart of Seneca College, Joe Belinsky of Moneris, Jeff Cohen of Shoppers Drug Mart, Sangam Manikkayamiyer, Stefano Tiranardi and Chris Vernon from Symantec, Wil Stassen of Cushman & Wakefield, and Matt Starkie of Microsoft.
As with all TCBC Best Practices documents, the Planning for the Cloud/Cloud Strategy: Enterprise whitepaper is comprised of three primary sections: a discussion of the context defining the topic, analysis of the business objectives that shape the requirement for enterprise cloud planning, and best practices identified by the TCBC working group investigating the subject.
Key definitional/context issue
Though high levels of expectation for cloud benefits have translated into a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to cloud deployment, successful implementation requires that the user organization “get its house in order before leaping to cloud.” This entails the definition of detailed strategy across the spectrum of cloud-powered activities, and optimal planning focuses on supporting the transitions that will be experienced by people and changes in business process and technology that accompany migration to cloud.
Transformational change management is a foundational principle that frames proper planning for cloud adoption and use. The change exercise has multiple components and can support multiple initiatives, but in the cloud context consists of four primary mandates: managing the end-user experience, which is likely to change when a cloud-based solution is deployed; managing roles and responsibilities, which are likely to change when operations are moved to a cloud provider; business workflow and process change needed to accommodate the addition or subtraction of application features that may accompany migration; and IT change and release management, including processes to enable the security of IT environments, and the business of IT (who pays for what and how?).
Enterprise cloud planning also entails the application of a systematic approach at the technology level, which can identify the problems that need to be solved at each logical layer. In cloud application deployment, for example, planning targets: delivering application capability across any device; optimizing the operations and automation of application workloads and showing/charging back at the control plane layer; and at the infrastructure layer, driving maximum utilization across all hardware assets whether service is delivered from within the data centre or via the public cloud.
Combined, this holistic strategy and systematic line of attack offer the enterprise a solid basis for designing cloud implementation and optimizing its use. This guidance has also animated discussions in the Enterprise Cloud Planning working group aimed at identifying and addressing obstacles to broader adoption of cloud technologies.
The TCBC 2015 Planning for the Cloud/Cloud Strategy: Enterprise working group. From left to right, top row: Shawn Rosemarin (VMware),
Roy Hart (Seneca College), Joe Belinsky (Moneris), Jeff Cohen (Shoppers Drug Mart); bottom row, Sangam Manikkayamiyer (Symantec), Stefano Tiranardi (Symantec), Wil Stassen (Cushman & Wakefield), Matt Starkie (Microsoft), Chris Vernon (Symantec).
Business objectives and best practices
To guide strategic vision, the Enterprise Cloud Planning working group first outlined five key cloud adoption drivers, connecting these with business outcomes based on the assumption that successful deployment depends on alignment of IT and business objectives. So new payment models – and what this enables – as opposed to measuring the potential for absolute cost reduction served as the basis for an exploration of the cost savings topic. Similarly, cloud agility, mobile enablement, better security and disaster recovery subjects were viewed through the prism of business goals, as a necessary starting point that enables cloud planning to identify the pain point(s) that the technology is expected to resolve. According to the working group, good cloud strategy will ensure that deployment can address a sufficient number (two or more) of these adoption drivers.
The bulk of the whitepaper generated through working group discussions focused on the documentation of best practices in cloud adoption and use. Within the people, process and technology framework noted above, the working group identified six areas that require change management, turning these topics from obstacle to avenue in the cloud migration process. With adequate planning at the people level, for example, the group argued that changes in roles and responsibilities can shape the cultural change needed to ensure alignment of line-of-business, IT and the CFO’s office, as well as IT collaboration at the development and operational levels. For its part, skills upgrade can deliver the wide-angle view that a new generation of enterprise architects will need to train on business requirements, privacy and governance issues, and on decisions for public vs. private cloud infrastructures.
In terms of process change, specifically organizational control and governance, the group outlined techniques around data stewardship, workflow adaptation and approvals that can mitigate risks associated with loss of control in cloud environments – and address security fear that has dogged cloud adoption since mass introduction of technology offerings a decade ago. The whitepaper also offers guidance on assessing cloud readiness: what factors should user organizations take into account when deciding if the business and culture are ready for cloud, and if cloud is the best option for the business; how can the user determine the most appropriate delivery method for specific applications; and how do advanced infrastructure capabilities such as blueprints, automation and orchestration can accelerate migration.
At a technical level, the whitepaper also describes “Cloud connections,” or the architectural considerations that enable seamless mobility between clouds, and interoperability via APIs or cloud standards needed to ensure rapid delivery of a consistent user experience in application provisioning. Technology is also the subject of a concluding chapter in the whitepaper on “Exit strategies” where enterprise users are advised to understand the implications of cloud decisions in advance of deployment, weighing the benefits of accelerated cloud deployment on public platforms against the potential for vendor lock in. How difficult, costly or complex is the process of “unrolling” cloud deployments if business circumstances change is a question that enterprises need to consider at the outset. “Think about the exit before you think about the entrance,” the working group has advised, coming full circle on the application delivery lifecycle.
About the whitepaper
The Planning for the Cloud/Cloud Strategy: Enterprise whitepaper is available immediately to TCBC members. Non-members can purchase individual copies for $995, or can instead consider joining the coalition as individuals or as corporate members.