Ah, the cloud—the place in the cybersky that enables all those applications and holds all that data for businesses both big and small. It seems like most companies these days have opted to take at least some tentative steps toward cloud—and if they haven’t yet, you can bet it’s been discussed. The more moving parts within a company, though, the greater the considerations for cloud migration: That’s where your enterprise clients come in.
When you’re a managed service provider (MSP) serving the enterprise, those are some big eggs in your basket, and extra care is needed when assessing any cloud moves. Not that any client, no matter the size, isn’t important, but an enterprise operation typically has more moving parts to take into consideration and, as a result, different levels of cloud adoption make sense. Here are some things to consider as you work to assess your enterprise clients’ move to the cloud?
Questions to Ask
Before migrating operations to the cloud, there are a number of questions to get the ball rolling, including the following:
- Can the business needs be met and improved by a move to the cloud?
- What’s the best cloud choice—public, private, or hybrid?
- Is it possible a combination of public, private, and/or hybrid is the best choice? If so, what is the best strategy there?
- Is the organization as a whole ready for change? Is the IT team ready for change?
- Are there regulatory or industry standard requirements that need to remain top of mind (think compliance).
- In a perfect world, what kind of a timeline are we working with?
- In your client’s eyes, what’s the end game? Is that realistic and deliverable?
- What are the client’s priorities re: a move to the cloud? How can you help determine those priorities?
Those who say, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well” could just as easily quip, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing with a prioritized plan.” That is, after all, how things get done, in the enterprise or otherwise. With so much happening behind the scenes, determining project priorities within the context of the business is one of the most important steps you can help your clients take. Not every process will be a clean transfer to the cloud, but not every process needs to be. The answers to a lot of those questions I posed in the last section can be found—or at least narrowed down—when objectives are prioritized on a big picture level.
How open is your client to change? Do they have the personnel to carry the cloud-conversion load, or would outsourcing make the priority list? How important is innovation to the culture of the business, and where does that stack up to the financials and day-to-day operations? Determine what’s most important to your client, and you’ve got a good place to start.
How to Evaluate
There is not a one-size-fits-all approach for determining cloud-readiness, but that doesn’t mean it’s a shot in the dark, either. Brijesh Deb, Senior Technology Architect for Infosys, relayed a step-by-step application assessment approach to IBM DeveloperWorks that’s based on the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP). AHP helps you determine the “best decision” instead of having blinders on in search of the “absolute, correct decision.” Deb’s process encourages the evaluation of each application from the enterprise portfolio in terms of business value, technical fitment (how well does it “fit” into cloud), and risk exposure.
You’ll need to read the whole thing here—and you should, as it’s worth your time—but here’s a brief overview:
Step 1. Create a criteria hierarchy for each of the three sections above, and break down all the groups and sub groups within them. You’ll likely end up with a flow chart of sorts.
Step 2. Compare the priority of each criterion as it fits in the overall enterprise context, considering the items two-by-two. Consider both local and global priority.
Step 3. Next, determine how the proposed applications fit within the prioritized criteria. Assign each a relative score based on both qualitative and quantitative considerations.
Step 4. Use Deb’s specific formula, which factors in the relative priority of both large and sub criteria groups, to calculate the AHP overall score of each application.
Step 5. After you have the APH score for each item in all three dimensions, create a matrix to show what works for cloud and what isn’t the best fit.
Risk Factors Associated with Cloud
Cloud can definitely add value—the promise of increased operating efficiencies, solutions for data storage, benefits to infrastructure, and resource management—but it’s not without risks. We all know that transitioning to a public cloud comes with the same sort of risks that accompany any online data transmission, only those security threats are multiplied seemingly exponentially by more sensitive information and more entry points for potential breaches. There are less obvious risks, too, like those that surround personnel. Is the IT team ready to handle the change? Will everyone be trained appropriately? These are just a few notes on the long list of risk factors to consider as you help your clients navigate their cloud moves.
Hopefully this list gives you some things to think about as you work with your clients to assess their readiness to move to the cloud, and determine priorities and a strategy to make it all happen in as seamless a fashion as possible.
Where are most of your clients when it comes to cloud—partially migrated, considering migration, or biding their time? Have you had success in communicating both the value and potential challenges of cloud conversion to your enterprise clients? What’s worked and what hasn’t? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
Additional Resources on this Topic:
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