Cloud Source Blog
In This HP Cloud Source Blog, HP Expert, Christian Verstraete will examine cloud computing challenges, discuss practical approaches to cloud computing and suggest realistic solutions.

5 use cases to think through your journey to cloud

scenario2.jpgAs you probably know by now, I have the opportunity to talk to many CIOs about cloud and how to take some of their activities to the cloud. As long as we discuss options, concepts, offerings etc. the discussion is animated. But at one moment, THE question pops up. How can we go after this? How do we start?

 

Well you also know I’m rather pragmatic, so I feel that giving a high level theoretical answer won’t do. In my last blog entry, I talked about the organizational side of things, which is of critical importance and which I often advice CIOs to tackle right from the start. This time I’d like to discuss ways to start.

 

Every industry is different and has its own needs, but we managed to group the potential use case scenarios encountered in five groups I’d like to share with you. I can’t take the credit for inventing them, but can tell you they focus the discussion and allow the development of a down to earth roadmap to take you to the cloud.

 

Five key use cases

So, let me briefly describe you the five use cases. I’ll discuss them in more details in my next blog entries.

  1. Dev/Test. Most CIOs tend to start with this use case, providing flexible infrastructure, middleware and development tool environments to their developers so they become more efficient during the development process. They feel that, although development is critical for the enterprise, an outage will be less damaging than with the operational systems. This allows operations to start understanding what it means for them to manage a cloud environment while staying close to what they are used to, provisioning servers and IT environments. Developer efficiency increase is typically in the 10 to 15% range making such move beneficial from a financial and agility point of view. The only real warning is that, once your developers have embraced the new way of working, it’s difficult to take it away from them.
  2. Core Production Workloads. CIOs looking at starting their cloud efforts by taking production workloads to the cloud are brave, but most often they are confronted with an immediate need they have difficulty addressing in a different way. I’ve seen this happen for two distinct reasons. On the one hand, some CIOs are confronted to heavy variability in the demand for some workloads and do not have the budgets to throw enough infrastructure to address the worst case scenario. So, they need to find ways to reshuffle existing spare capacity to address the demand. And yes, virtualization helps, but combining virtualization, automation and load balancing often allows addressing the needs. On the other hand, I’ve seen some CIOs having to address collaboration needs, often with external parties, that they cannot or do not want to implement using their own systems. Often it has to do with security or vulnerability issues. So, they are looking for a specific environment to implement that collaboration, not really knowing how much capacity is required. Both those cases relate to the use of a cloud, being it private or managed.
  3. Application Transformation. The initial demand for CIOs going this route is often the interaction of existing applications with mobile apps, either as the result of a BYOD strategy, or to provide their customers new ways to interact with the enterprise. This often implies a re-hosting or re-architecting of the application. And as the actual levels of interaction often are unknown, CIOs take advantage of this effort to bring the application to the cloud. In the process they hope to enhance efficiencies and lower costs.
  4. Source cloud services from external providers. COIs trying to rain shadow-IT in start with this approach. They try to offer to their business users the services those request using external service providers to help them address the needs quickly. Governance, service brokering and integration are the key aspects they get confronted with early on. Relying on external service level agreements, understanding true service pricing, ensure appropriate risk mitigation and managing data spread across multiple providers force them to adapt their organization and processes to ensure proper control over the new ecosystem.
  5. Service Provider Cloud. This use case is really focused towards IT and telecommunication companies that see cloud computing, and by this I mean the selling of cloud services, as new revenue streams. But I have seen a couple CIOs, asked by their companies to turn themselves into shared service providers, looking at the use case to understand what it means to them to deliver services to their customers, whether internal or external. Here we are discussing the set-up of a new business, we’re looking at business models, pricing approaches etc. Yes, obviously there is a technology aspect associated with this move, but frankly the challenges are elsewhere and I would argue that, if this is the way you want to go, it would be best for you to choose a strong partner that can take care of the cloud platform, leaving you with the organizational and business model aspects.

Now, some CIOs tell me they find themselves in more than one of those use cases. For example, they may want to do a dev/test pilot while sourcing cloud services from external providers. And this is perfectly fine. However, to keep things pragmatic and down to earth, make sure you take a primary one, one you put all your weight behind.

 

Understanding the use case, its implications

Have you made a choice which of the use cases is your primary target? Yes, let’s now review what that would mean from four different aspects:

  • What cloud platform functionality do you require? How will you manage that environment? Will you integrate it with your existing environment and if yes, how? What security aspects do you need to look at? In other words, how will the environment that you choose to address your use case integrate with your existing IT environment?
  • What will be the implications to your organization, its structure, its culture, its way of working, its key business processes? In other words, how will embracing this use case change the way your people are working.
  • How will you ensure you address the needs of your customers, the business people? How will you agree on the services that need to be provided, their priority, when they should be sunset etc.? That’s the governance aspect.
  • Last but not least, how will you manage the service portfolio and the lifecycle of each service? What business model are you putting in place? Will you continue operating as a cost center or are you looking at other approaches?

As you can see, there is plenty to discuss once a use case has been chosen. Thinking through this upfront will help you in developing a successful proof of concept. But realize these are often addictive. So, once you have started, there is little way to return back to the status quo as your users will not accept it.

 

Conclusion

Going through those use cases will have an industry dimension as each have their own requirements, but all in all, they serve as the basis for a conversation. What I’d like to do in the next couple blog entries is digging into each of them a little deeper.

Labels: cloud| CloudSource
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About the Author
Christian is responsible for building services focused on advising clients in their move to cloud, particularly from a business process and ...
About the Author(s)
  • Christian is responsible for building services focused on advising clients in their move to cloud, particularly from a business process and application perspective, and establishing a global community to deliver those services to our customers worldwide.


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