This article originally appeared in the Q1 -2013 edition of Cloud Computing Magazine.
I have worked with many companies over the past 17 years to transform their business by implementing SAP (News - Alert). During transformation, companies typically review Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the enterprise architecture and recognize opportunities presented by the transformation.
The opportunity to move the infrastructure to cloud is a game changer. The business is offered a level of flexibility, speed and agility that was not available in the past. However, moving to cloud does not solve basic issues that we experience on a daily basis in the IT world. In fact, some of those issues become more difficult to navigate. We will take a look at some of the key issues and think about the impact across the enterprise.
Issue #1 – Data Management
This is the biggest issue I see at most customer sites. Data management includes sensitive data, testing data, and size of data sets. Why would this be an issue for the cloud? Answer – Think TCO. The cloud offers a business the capability to spin up and spin down systems quickly. Efficiency is optimized if you have a well defined System Development Life Cycle (SDLC).
Many of our colleagues desire full copies of production data for testing purposes. This is inefficient and wasteful. Storage costs can quickly consume your IT budget if you have large data sets. Also, sensitive data may require encryption or other processes that take away the speed, agility, and flexibility recognized by cloud.
Therefore, I recommend a data management process to mitigate this issue. The business should be able to define a subset of data required for testing end-to-end business processes. Use dummy data or a tool to scramble sensitive data. If possible, complete your data management process prior to moving into the cloud. Doing so will help you with issue No. 2.
Obviously, performance testing is a different issue and may require a full data set depending on system sizing and complexity. I will table that issue for another time and discussion. Hopefully, the brief discussion of data management will help you think through the issue.
Issue #2 – Migrate Systems or Rebuild Systems
I typically deal with global customers who have complex system landscapes and perform multiple releases of business functionality on a yearly basis. Landscapes include sandbox, development, test, staging, preproduction, training, etc. I may choose to migrate these landscapes one-by-one into the cloud or I could migrate a source landscape into the cloud and rebuild based on a source. Data management is a perfect segue into this discussion. Also, keep TCO at the forefront.
Question – Migration or rebuild, which costs more? Answer – Migration.
Choosing migration is essentially a data center move. You will either accomplish the move via a network migration or some type of media. Providing one source of data to be migrated to the cloud and then rebuild your landscapes by copying that source to each landscape takes advantage of the cloud model.
The reality is that you will be forced to pick and choose. Most customers choose a mix of migration and rebuild. Global companies are constantly in middle of an SDLC for a release of functionality and must make hard choices. Otherwise, costs go up and you will not take advantage of a benefit offered by your cloud provider.
Issue #3 – Responsibility Assignment Matrix
Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed (RACI) between all organizations.
A wise consultant told me “Technology is rarely the problem. People are always the problem.” You add an additional layer of communication by going to cloud if moving systems that are currently in house to a cloud vendor.
Scenario – End-users press the submit button and their sales order times out. Where do I send the issue? Answer – The problem determination process does not change. However, moving to cloud presents an opportunity to solve this area if it has been a problem in the past. A detailed RACI that addresses support of all aspects of the enterprise solution will remove redundancy and reduce costs.
Those dreaded words “It’s not in our contract” means that the various teams will stay in their box. Therefore, it is critical to have a RACI agreed to by all parties. This may require a contract modification with your vendors. Failure to follow through in this area will result in finger pointing by the various teams and slow problem resolution.
Regardless of which cloud model your business is considering adopting, ultimately, lowering TCO and recognizing the cloud benefits will determine the value add to your company.
Michael Ryan is an associate partner with IBM (News - Alert) Global Business Services.
Edited by Brooke Neuman