Making Rational Cloud Computing Decisions

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Depending on who you listen to, cloud computing is either the greatest thing since sliced bread, it's what the vendor has always been doing anyway, or it's an unprecedented threat to the integrity of your operations. Making sourcing decisions based on these messages is not only difficult, it is dangerous. At Cutter, we look past the irrational messages and try to restore some balance to the discussion. In doing so, we make the following assertions:

  • Cloud computing follows a model of service delivery and consumption that is less new than you may think.

  • The cloud approach can be applied to more forms of IT than the obvious ones, potentially yielding unexpected simplifications and cost savings.

  • While there are security issues, they are less prohibitive than the detractors of the model would like you to believe.

  • To fully take advantage of the new model, you may need to change more aspects of your IT than you think.

While these assertions may be reasonably general, the adoption of cloud computing in a given organization must be highly customized. It depends on the organization's needs, its culture, its regulatory environment, and other factors.

In this one-day workshop, Cutter Senior Consultant Claude Baudoin alternates between short presentations on specific sub-topics and open, guided discussion, thus bringing out specific concerns and ideas that audience members may have. The workshop is divided into six parts:

Part 1: Extended Introductions

We set the stage by collecting the participants' existing concerns and opinions and verifying that we have a common understanding of what the organization's vision and needs are, and the impact the business strategy has on its sourcing model.

Part 2: The Hype

Here we "demythify" Cloud Computing. We talk about the vendors' promises, and what Cloud Computing really is, and we discuss some of the key providers in this field.

Part 3: The Fears

Some of the risks are real, but can be managed. Some are exaggerated, and we will explain why. The goal of this discussion is not to prove that there are no risks - it is to allow the participants to make well-informed decisions about the suitability of cloud-based solutions, given the business's requirements for security, privacy, and control over access to information assets.

Part 4: The Reality

Having discussed, and relativized, both the excessively positive and excessively negative views of cloud computing, we will, in this section, review the real applications that can be made of the approach. This includes aspects of IT that people do not immediately associate with cloud computing.

Part 5: The Pragmatics

This part is about guidelines and checklists to maximize your chance of success. It covers the criteria for selecting pilot projects, and the guidelines (including federal government documents) that can be used to guide the effort.

Part 6: Conclusion and Wrap-Up

The workshop concludes with a new round-robin review of the participants' opinion: what each person has learned.