The rapid growth of Cloud-based solutions has led many companies to jump right in to take advantage of the benefits offered by moving certain functions offsite. Some businesses, however, have rushed key operational functions into the Cloud and are now experiencing some difficulties. This trend becomes apparent when each component is placed in the Cloud without proper integration with associated activities. By letting each department choose and install their own Cloud applications they have doubled down on the complications.
CFOs, in particular, need to have a handle on the expenses associated with a patchwork of applications. The software-as-a-service (SaaS) model is a recurring monthly charge, not a one-time cost. Added together, the expenses can be staggering, even if each one charges a relatively modest fee.
A well-thought-out plan will move your company closer to reaping the great benefits of life in the Cloud.
Some business leaders have pushed back on the lack of a cogent, complete Cloud strategy to the point where they are “de-clouding” – in other words backing out of Cloud applications. This can also be an expensive decision because the data has to be moved back into an on-premises server and many contracts enforce penalties to end contracts early. If you have already moved key functions to the Cloud, it is time to do the math around your integration issues and if it doesn’t all add up, now is the time to pause and plan your path forward.
If your company has just started looking at the Cloud, here are some important points to consider when creating a fully integrated Cloud strategy.
Understand what issues your company is addressing by utilizing the Cloud
This is an integral first step. Why are you attempting to leverage a cloud-based solution? This is a significant undertaking so it’s vital that the entire company be on the same page from the very beginning.
Ensure that your personnel AND stakeholders are educated regarding your Cloud strategy
Transitioning to a Cloud-based platform should be a gradual process: it needs to be well-planned with the employees as well as the key stakeholders fully understanding the ramifications of this action. Utilize company-wide meetings to announce the plans to enter the Cloud, and at strategic points along the journey.
Don’t agree to anything until the contract has been carefully vetted
Like any contract, the Cloud SLA (Service Level Agreement) is a promise to perform according to the terms. These terms are negotiable and should include a high level of security and privacy for the data. This kind of contract is hard for a non-technical person to interpret so a good starting point is the recently created ISO 19086 which establishes a set of common Cloud SLA building blocks Also, consult an attorney familiar with Cloud contract language or a managed services provider that is familiar with Cloud services.
Define and understand the IT requirements involved
Obviously, the group that oversees your IT will be at the forefront of a successful implementation of a Cloud-based strategy. When collaborating to create the plan, it’s important to factor in the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your existing IT assets, as well as what will be required for a new Cloud-based system.
Best practices for the Cloud strategy include:
- Ensure that from the very beginning systems are well documented
- Establish metrics to measure the benefits that are realized as a result of your transition to the Cloud. This will be helpful when evaluating future additions to this strategy.
- Always communicate what is happening, especially to the key stakeholders who probably aren’t going to be technically involved.
Creating a Cloud plan can be extremely beneficial and once determined, it should be executed in a timely fashion. Understand the goals that will be met by moving to the Cloud, then educate your company from the top down with an understanding of the implications and costs. Using a well-thought-out plan will move your company closer to reaping the great benefits of life in the Cloud.