Cloud

Conducting a Fit and Readiness Assessment for Public Cloud IT

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Saugatuck Technology’s experiences with IT users and executives continue to emphasize the fact that not every IT workload is suitable for Cloud IT. When IT operations, business processes, and applications are assessed against defined business objectives, the economics and risk of Cloud use and management can be much more prohibitive than widely believed. Every significant workload, every significant application or operation, needs to be evaluated regarding its fit and readiness for Cloud deployment and use. This “Strategic Perspective” builds on prior research to propose a number of process filters that can be used within a Fit and Readiness Assessment for using Public Cloud IT.

Enterprises are rapidly moving to the Cloud, and they need to establish formal frameworks and governance to help manage risk, deal with resource allocation, and communicate with users. Indeed, Saugatuck research indicates that by 2015, 65 percent of new enterprise IT workloads will be Cloud-based or Hybrid, with approximately 40 percent of these deployments destined to Public Cloud alternatives.

Based on our numerous advisory sessions and inquiry work with user organizations on how to leverage Public Cloud IT, as well as briefings with providers that are helping enterprises assess and build Cloud IT strategies, Saugatuck advocates the use of a two-step Fit and Readiness filtering process to evaluate any application or process for Public Cloud IT. Figure 1 outlines the Fit and Readiness Filtering Process.

Figure 1: Filtering Process

Large enterprises (including governmental agencies and other non-commercial organizations) typically house thousands of applications and tens of thousands of supporting processes. Saugatuck advises these enterprises to analyze processes and applications in a systematic manner and move through first a Fit assessment, then through a Readiness assessment, to the creation of a Business Case that supports their Cloud deployment.

IT and business leaders must first assess whether the use cases of their applications or processes are fit for the Public Cloud (e.g., Amazon EC2, Google, Salesforce.com, Rackspace, Savvis, Microsoft, Verizon, ATT), where multiple entities can access and launch workloads on a shared / common underlying hardware infrastructure.

This “Fitness Assessment” must evaluate applications or processes against key criteria including Regulatory Limitations, Interaction with other Functions, Physical Adjacency, Specific Skills, Complexity of Interfaces, Timing Constraints, and Strategic Importance. Figure 2 provides typical filters that may be used in a Fitness Assessment. Correspondingly, it provides a self-check assessment (Low, Manageable, or High risk) of moving to Public Cloud IT.

Figure 2: Fitness Assessment Filtering and Evaluation Criteria

The Fitness assessment will produce a list of applications or processes that will fit into two buckets: those that are a good Fit for Public Cloud and can move to a Readiness Assessment; and those that are Not Fit for Public Cloud, though they may certainly be candidates for Private Cloud Deployment.

The next component of this filtering process is to assess the overall “readiness” for Public Cloud deployment of those applications or processes that are seen as “Fit” for Public Cloud. In this assessment, Process Standardization, Process Stability, Length at Current State, Frequency of Breaks, Break Resolution, Documentation, SLA Restrictiveness, Performance, Common Platform, Organizational Maturity and Workload Compatibility are key filters. Figure 3 indicates the criteria (filters) and considerations utilized to determine the “Readiness” of a process for Public Cloud IT according to the same self-check assessment (Low, Manageable or High risk).

Figure 3: Readiness Assessment Filtering and Evaluation Criteria

Applications or processes that pass these two filtering stages then must be evaluated to whether they possess the right scale in order to make the business case effective. Processes that pass through this final filter become opportunities for Public Cloud IT.

For candidate applications that are Fit for Public Cloud but are Not Ready, consider reengineering the application for the Public Cloud, improving organizational maturity around key management disciplines or reviewing Private Cloud alternatives. For example, if an application is considered a poor workload for a Public Cloud offering due to the need to maintain multiple integration points to on-premises applications then an organization may consider outsourcing management of the dependencies including the upstream and downstream workloads to a services provider in a Private Cloud offering. Organizations may consider applications as a “Future Wave Candidates” reviewing the appropriateness of Cloud Provider offerings over time.

Net Impact

Rather than succumbing to a blind optimism about Cloud benefits, organizations should perform objective assessments. Employ a formal methodology for analyzing the application portfolio – but don’t be afraid to experiment, across the full range of the stack. IT organizations are more likely to attain desired goals – and avoid negative exposures – if applications and processes are selected via structured evaluation criteria that are based on real-world criteria with input from process owners and the business.

To coordinate across business units and geographies, market the availability of a centralized team, or Cloud Center of Excellence, consisting of a team of internal consultants that possess relevant financial, technology and business skills to assist LOB executives in Cloud business case analysis. These Centers of Excellence will provide a way for IT to be proactive in determining user needs, and allow IT to revisit/revise old IT/ process/outsourcing assessments.

At the same time, IT leaders should expand training within their own groups to educate personnel on how to quantify business benefits, costs and risk.

Failure to actively promote a Cloud IT framework and business case competence will drive the LOB to create their own business cases independent of IT, leverage (expensive third-party consultants) and even leverage vendor provided TCO / assessment frameworks. Of course, the results will self-serve their priorities and potentially contribute to future management headaches.

William S. McNee is Founder and CEO of Saugatuck Technology, whereas Robert McNeill is a former Vice President with Saugatuck.

This research was originally published on June 9, 2011 as part of a premium deliverable in Saugatuck’s newly launched subscription research and advisory service called Cloud Leadership Strategies – which is a sister service to Saugatuck’s five-year old CRS-Base subscription research offering. To purchase and download the full research deliverable (901CLS), or a companion piece that was published in early April, 2011 (870CLS), go to:

 

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