October 23, 2017 | Written by: Gery Menegaz
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The journey to the cloud is different for every organization. Some organizations start with a very well thought out strategy, while other organizations may be responding to a request from the business, or to a report by industry analysts such as Gartner or Forrester.
A study from the IBM Center for Applied Insights found that companies that outsource IT are eager for the benefits that cloud has to offer. And while many have already begun their journey to cloud, many are finding themselves in relationships with multiple outsourcing providers, and the ensuing transitions can be a bit complicated.
Marsha Trant, who manages worldwide cloud sales for the IBM outsourcing business and authored the study, spoke about her study’s findings. The study, titled Cloud bound: Advice from organizations in outsourcing relationships, gathers advice from those who’ve traveled the cloud road and provides important insights to organizations making this transition. The authors interviewed IT people, predominantly, and found that in some form or other, many were already using cloud.
Here are five key takeaways from the study findings:
1. A new due diligence process will be required; you ought to be prepared to invest more time and effort to finding the ideal partner. Explore your options. Look beyond the marketing, explore their development roadmaps, contingency plans, and get client references if possible. In the cloud world, there is an ever-expanding ecosystem from which to learn, so take the time to educate your internal stakeholders and get technical help if there is a skills gap.
“Talk to cloud firms about their development process, how they source data centers, and how they manage code and do releases. Really understand these new techniques.”
– CIO, manufacturing
2. Expect to pay more attention to security, as it is a primary concern for many stakeholders. Expect an increased level of internal scrutiny, and questions around data resiliency. Acknowledge concerns, as the cloud is a new technology for many. Get your providers to lend a hand in addressing the concerns of your team. Everyone should be comfortable that the cloud vendor can really mitigate risk and adequately address business requirements.
“Our old-school security folks didn’t want anything to go to the cloud. But we said, ‘Cloud isn’t going away – so how do we make sure we’re protected? Rather than putting up walls, be part of the solution.’”
– Senior IT director, pharma
3. The study found many pushing the limits on, or altering the dynamics of their current provider’s relations. Cloud services contracts are markedly different than outsourcing contracts – the former are designed to allow change and flexibility over time, while the latter do just the opposite; holding vendors to very strict guidelines. Keep expectations high, but don’t expect to reach a steady state with limited change. You will need to cultivate a different type of relationship where you lean on your vendor for strategic guidance, business case development, workload prioritization and more.
“It’s important for vendors to bring innovation, not just deliver what you’ve signed up for. We require biannual meetings with the provider’s senior technical architects to brainstorm technology and platform improvements.”
– Head of procurement, consumer goods
4. Plan to spend more time helping the business adjust to the new technology. Cloud services require a different governance approach, and procurement and contracting processes often need to be altered requiring greater business leader engagement. Everyone needs to be in sync on how solutions are selected and implemented. More time will be required to get business buy-in, and then keep them closely involved during the implementation process to manage stakeholder expectations. It is critical to be transparent keeping business leaders and others informed of outages – timing, impacts, and duration.
“We won’t do anything without close interaction with our senior clinical officers. They have to know and support the effort. A CIO housed on his or her lone branch is doomed to failure. We have regular meetings to update the President and senior LOBs on where we are.”
– CIO, healthcare
5. Thinking ahead about an integration plan is critical. Because the cloud is made for a “best of breed” approach, you should plan for a more diverse vendor base and a hybrid IT environment. The complexities associated with expansive hybrid environments mandates solid planning. The study suggests appointing a single point of contact to manage and set the stage for well-orchestrated and productive interactions within your network of providers.
“In the future, we’re not going to see one gigantic cloud player. We’re not going to put everything in a single basket somewhere in the cloud. I honestly believe it will be a combination, a portfolio of partners.”
– CIO, consumer goods
One of the CIOs in the study related that they wanted to get the momentum that they required to stay competitive. He wanted to see discretionary dollars spent on moving his company toward the future, rather than anchoring them in the past. This quote really rang true with Trant. The journey will be different for organizations, and while Trant doesn’t suggest starting with mission critical systems, she suggests that it may well be that mission critical systems are ultimately where the real value will be found.
This post was originally published on Thoughts on Cloud in October 2014.