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When I was 13, I was in my school Cricket team. In one of the premier local tournaments, we were playing a stronger team in the semifinal. This tournament was kind of a big deal with bragging rights at stake and local press coverage. We batted first in the match and put up what we thought was a good total. The other team however started out batting great. They got right on top and were cruising along and it seemed like we wouldn’t even be able to make it competitive. Our regular bowlers were going for a lot of runs and couldn’t make any outs. Our captain, as a last resort, tossed the ball to our wicket-keeper (catcher, in baseball) – a big strong kid – who changed out of his wicket-keeping gear and proceeded to bowl phenomenally well. First, one wicket fell and then one more and then two more and before we knew it the match got real tight. From here on out it was anybody’s game. Everybody could feel the change in momentum, most of all the players. Our team’s play went up a notch. Their best batsman was still batting and helping them to claw their way to the finish line. Every ball mattered. Every run mattered. The small crowd was into it. I was fielding at short-midwicket (think, infield in baseball). Then their best batsman hit the ball straight at me and took off for a run. W  h  a  a  t! Were they insane? All I had to do was pick up pick up pick up the nice roller coming my way, throw it to my bowler who was standing next to the wickets in anticipation of making the out and their best batsman would be out by 20 feet. Finals, Championship…here we come…I fumbled the ball.

 

When opportunity comes rolling, smart players know to keep their eyes on the ball. The Cloud (IaaS) can help you today with many of your IT infrastructure challenges and smart CIOs are leading their organizations into the Cloud. What is a good way to begin adopting the Cloud in your organization? How can you find out if the Cloud is right for you? Should you spend a lot of time/money upfront to make sure you get the strategy/road-map figured out first? Or should you be more tactical and incremental in the beginning? Should you start out with an Enterprise-wide vision or should you take a workload-by-workload view of Cloud adoption? These are questions that a lot of CIOs are thinking about. The Cloud adoption model they choose is usually influenced by their experiences with prior technology adoptions, current organizational priorities, IT management bandwidth (or lack of) and of course budgets. We like to propose the following approach to Cloud adoption – it is a low-risk, low-cost, step-by-step approach that will whet the appetite of many CIOs. We call it the ‘show me’ approach to Cloud adoption because it lets CIOs say – ‘show me that the Cloud is a good fit for our organization’ and allows them to make smart decisions on how much of their organization’s time, energy and money to invest. We believe this approach allows you to test the Cloud and provides you answers to many key questions so you can confidently proceed with adoption.

To summarize this proposed Cloud adoption approach –

  1. You start small (low risk)
  2. Test out how it works
  3. Migrate 1 workload, increase confidence
  4. Broaden ambition and scope

 

To go along with the Cloud adoption approach, you also need to have a Cloud adoption framework that will allow your organization to systematically assess Cloud pros and cons. We like this Cloud adoption framework – it is simple, flexible and customizable. It allows you to look at critical criterion that are must-haves and add your organization-specific criterion that are important for success in your environment.

Consider some of the important questions for each of these building-blocks within the framework:

Legal – What data ownership and privacy laws apply? What are the terms and conditions of usage? What laws and regulations apply? Which country’s laws apply? How is my business protected?

Security – How does Security work in the Cloud? How is security different compared to the way we do it today? How do we become more secure? How do we know security is setup correctly?

Compliance – How does Compliance work in the Cloud (Legal/Financial/Business)? How does it compare to our current compliance regime? What does our Audit & Compliance team need to know?

Costs – What is the TCO? ROI? How do these costs compare to our current costs? What are the Accounting implications (Capex vs. Opex)? What other cost considerations do we need to be aware of?

Technical Architecture – What will the Cloud technical architecture look like? How does that compare with our current architecture? How will the Cloud integrate and work with our existing infrastructure? How can we improve functionality and performance when things change?

Management & Operations – How will we manage the Cloud infrastructure? Will our current infrastructure management tools work? What changes (if any) are required to our management framework? How will we operate the Cloud infrastructure? What operational processes need to change?

Tools – What tools do I need to make our Cloud adoption successful? How do we know these are the right tools?

People & Skills – What will my people need to be able to successfully manage the Cloud infrastructure? How will we acquire the needed skills? How can we ensure appropriate levels of support?

Program & Project Management – What do we need to do to drive Cloud adoption success? How will our PMO work to deliver the business benefits? What changes to our current PMO framework?

Support – What are the support options available from Cloud providers? How good are these options? What are the gaps?

Your organization-specific criterion 1 –

Your organization-specific criterion 2 –

Your organization-specific criterion 3 –

And so on…

Not every one of these building blocks may apply to every workload. And this is not an exhaustive list of all considerations for your Cloud adoption journey. However, these building blocks cover most of the important questions you have to ask to make the right decisions for your organization.

The benefits of the Cloud are very real. Organizations everywhere are exploring Cloud integration and finding solutions to their IT infrastructure challenges. Our Cloud adoption approach and framework will help you in your Cloud adoption journey.

Almost three decades have passed since that Cricket match back in high school. Later in that year, in a different tournament, we were again in the semifinal. I was fielding my usual position. This time all I saw was the ball hitting the bat and coming/dipping-fast towards me…I am now diving… The next thing I know I had 10 of my teammates celebrating my incredible catch! How did I catch that thing? Just kept my eyes on the ball and let my body react. And after 25 years of being ‘busy’, I recently got back into playing Cricket on weekends, notwithstanding my bad back and bad knee. It is a lot of fun. If sport is your thing and if you haven’t been in the game for a while, get back into it. You will have fun and you will get to keep your eyes on the ball.

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