Business Management of Cloud Services

1. Establish executive support

Senior management team must understand and take responsibility for the successful adoption of cloud services. Pressures will come from a number of key players in any cloud decision: IT, finance, procurement, and the user community. The IT community is most concerned about global access and impact on networks, security, user performance, etc. The key to their support is a globally-aware architectural plan for cloud implementation. Finance and procurement are most concerned about saving money. The key to executive support is a well-thought ROI rationale and calculation. Users are often most concerned scaling the environment in lock-step with changes to the business. The key to executive support from this group is to demonstrate higher elasticity from the cloud.

2. Address organizational change management

Management must understand and address the pressures introduced by cloud computing on the organization. Cloud computing will introduce change to the normal IT development and deployment processes, breaking down many organizational barriers and norms. At the heart of change is fear of loss-primarily, loss of control. The change must have a well-managed, well-planned process for mitigating fear of loss. Embracing change is critical to success.

3. Establish commitment

The organization must be fully committed to developing and executing a strategic plan for cloud computing within the enterprise. Adoption of cloud computing should be led by senior management including the CEO and CFO with the CIO and CTO playing a role of key enablers.

4. Carefully evaluate cloud service agreements to ensure critical business needs

Do not use service agreements for a fundamentally broken system that cannot meet the expectations being set. The service agreement is a shared responsibility and simply moving a service to a cloud provider does not mean that the service will magically work. Buy service, not servers. Look for complete managed services where you rely on the cloud provider to integrate all the parts into a complete solution. A properly negotiated service agreement will ensure there is a partnership between the customer and provider for the overall success of the service.

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5. Address federated governance

Cloud services are by nature distributed, but most command-and-control systems for managing IT are hierarchical. To succeed, some degree of distributed control and federated governance is necessary to match the model of cloud service delivery. Before making a decision on a cloud service provider, it is important to understand how the cloud service will be managed and what processes need to be integrated into the existing IT environment.

6. Rationalize security and privacy

At the heart of security is trust. Often cloud providers have a deeper awareness of what is required to provide good security than the customers they serve. However, the customer and cloud service provider must work together to establish a trust relationship and to establish the security and privacy required. Document the level of security required to properly protect the service and data and let the provider confirm how the requirements will be met. Objectively measure the provider’s true security capabilities. It is critical that sensitive information does not find its way into the wrong hands. The provider is responsible for ensuring that the data has appropriate protection, consistent with the requirements of the SLA.

7. Comply with legal and regulatory requirements

An organization must be aware of and plan for adherence to legal and regulatory requirements, including those related to security, privacy and accessibility. Failure to comply can derail the cloud computing effort and result in costly lawsuits.

8. Define metrics and a process for measuring impact

Create operational metrics which define steady state success – define how the metrics will be measured. Use metrics to assess cost savings and revenue enhancement, and to validate SLA compliance, including elasticity, availability, performance globalization, etc. By measuring results, there will be a baseline from which to make better decisions for future cloud services with the goal of continual ROI improvement

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