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Last month, technology reporter John Edward wrote a story in Information Week on the importance of using a roadmap to develop a cloud infrastructure. The article was intended for company IT leaders who are under pressure to move as much as possible to the cloud as fast as they can – which seems to be pretty much everyone these days.
Industry leaders shared their advice and offered tips on how and why to use a roadmap to keep organizations on course as they navigate the cloud. Dave Bartoletti, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, said a roadmap is needed to help make sense of the different types of cloud demands within an organization.
For example, business leaders want the newest cloud applications, developers want new cloud-native tools and tech managers crave the cloud infrastructure platforms to put everything together.
Scott Sinclair, a senior analyst at IT research firm ESG stressed the importance of leveraging the cloud to reduce the risks, cost and complexity of cloud operations.
We thought we’d ask our vice president of product marketing, Justin Augat, for his thoughts on why a roadmap is needed when moving to the cloud.
Q: Why is it important for any organization to have a roadmap when moving to the cloud and how do they chart the right course?
A: As with other major, transformational initiatives, cloud deployment can be risky if not done correctly. When deploying cloud services, organizations need to develop and agree on a cross-functional business plan that minimizes risks.
Cloud services can be a positive presence across the business with benefits like reduced time to market, lower costs and new resources to focus on innovation. But they can also create a risk of missing expectations if the organization is not ready for the financial and operational impact.
When developing a cloud roadmap, any IT professional should ask these questions:
- Will the cloud meet my application performance expectations?
- Do I understand how the cloud service is priced? Will I be able to forecast my costs easily?
- Will we be secure/compliant for our specific industry and geography?
- How will we manage the cloud?
Q: What’s the best way to begin building a cloud roadmap?
A: When building a cloud roadmap for the first time, start by understanding and agreeing on what challenges to conquer. The cloud has many benefits, but is not always the right strategy. For example, you would not use a cloud service if you don’t have the resources to monitor it and ensure it can meet your business expectations.
You should also understand which of your applications or data are appropriate for the cloud. Security, performance, etc. all need to be considered. A tiered approach over time makes sense to help build the roadmap. Consider using less critical applications first as trials.
Also, determine who will move the data to the cloud and when. This isn’t trivial. Moving the data wrong can be risky and lead to data loss or downtime. And not all times of year are created equal.
Q: Who should be included in the roadmap building process?
A: Financial, operational and technical teams all need to play a role. Finance for the shift from CAPEX to OPEX; COO because of the operational change in terms of supporting internal teams in a new way; and CTO to make sure the cloud is compatible with existing processes that you don’t want to change.
Q: What’s the biggest cloud roadmap planning mistake?
A: From our perspective, it is assuming that the cloud will immediately benefit everyone and every application. It won’t. Cloud is not an IT panacea. Cloud services need to be evaluated and planned to realize benefits. This also means revisiting the roadmap at least twice a year or after every major milestone. Cloud is transformational. It can be the best of times, worst of times – it all starts with a plan that everyone has bought into.