If you’ve been holding back about moving to the ‘Cloud’, it is time to get onboard the Cloud Computing express.
Not only has every major research firm published market forecasts indicating that Cloud services are growing exponentially, but we see multiplying customer success stories that clearly illustrate the immediate and measurable business benefits of moving to the Cloud.
Here are some simple rules you should follow to help you move ahead in the coming year and successfully leverage today’s rapidly evolving Cloud alternatives:
1. Check your networks: Adopting Cloud solutions doesn’t make sense if you don’t have sufficient bandwidth capabilities. Without adequate connectivity, accessing Cloud services will be like stepping back in time and only frustrate your end-users and executives.
2. Establish policies that encourage employee input: Develop straightforward procedures for identifying, evaluating, selecting and implementing Cloud solutions. Your end-users, developers and executives are being exposed to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) alternatives every day. Invite them to recommend those they like.
3. Focus on your immediate pain-points and functional gaps: Don’t rip out existing applications that work and cost little to maintain. Instead, target those cumbersome old applications that get in the way of end-user productivity and new applications to fill immediate needs.
4. Start small and try before you buy: One of the greatest advantages of today’s Cloud solutions is that they mitigate many of the risks associated with traditional, legacy applications. Rather than paying for a perpetual license upfront without having an opportunity to test how it will meet your needs, many of today’s Cloud solutions allow you to try them out before you subscribe to them. And, you can start with a small group of users, or a single department, before you roll out the solution across your organization.
5. Recognize that application hosting doesn’t equal Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): There is a growing number of legacy, on-premise software vendors who are offering hosted versions of their applications on a subscription pricing basis and calling them “SaaS” solutions. Although these hosted applications alleviate some of the operational hassles and reduce the upfront cost associated with traditional software deployment, they still fall short of the fundamental benefits of true ‘multitenant’ SaaS solutions, such as ongoing enhancements and aggregated benchmarks. In addition, the legacy software vendors can’t scale their hosted services if their customers are using varying versions of the hosted application.
6. Monitor utilization and measure satisfaction: Track how your end-users and executives are using the SaaS apps and other Cloud services. Be sure the utilization levels justify the current subscription fees to prevent overspending. Investigate how your utilization levels compare with other organizations by requesting benchmark information from SaaS/Cloud vendors. Implement feedback mechanisms to ensure satisfaction and generate new ideas. Use data to determine future service requirements.
7. Stay informed to stay ahead: The Cloud marketplace is changing rapidly from a technological perspective and maturing quickly from a business model point of view. Keeping up on the latest developments may be a challenge, but is also essential to take full advantage of the increasingly powerful solutions being delivered via the Cloud. Maintain an ‘open door’ policy and utilize social networking tools to invite your end-users, executives and others to share information about new services and best practices.
Jeff Kaplan is Managing Director of THINKstrategies (www.thinkstrategies.com), an independent consulting firm focused on the business implications of the on-demand services movement. He is also the founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace (www.cloudshowplace.com). He is also the host of the Cloud Analytics Summit (www.cloudanalyticssummit.com) on April 25 at the Computer History Museum in Mtn. View, CA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.