Enterprising Developments

10 Questions to Ask Before Embarking on Cloud Computing

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, August 1, 2012

Every cloud project—or even proposal of a cloud initiative—results in a raft of questions that IT managers and consultants may not quite be ready to answer. If your consultant or adviser gives you an answer of “It depends...,” it shows how uncertain the new frontier of cloud can be.

To bring some certainty to an uncertain world, Pamela Isom and Kerrie Holley, both with IBM, have attempted to address many of the most common cloud computing questions in their latest book, "Is Your Company Ready for Cloud? Choosing the Best Cloud Adoption Strategy for Your Business."

Isom and Holley cover a lot of ground, but here are just 10 of the basic questions that arise in regard to cloud, and their answers:

1. Is there a particular business area that our company must pay attention to when it comes to consuming cloud services? “Billing and customer relationship management are common processes for cloud adoption,” Isom and Holley write. “You need to understand who and how you will be billed for services that you consume.”

2. What are some lessons learned from cloud projects? “While the IT capabilities of cloud are significant, organizations can achieve higher returns if they focus on the business value of cloud adoption.”

3. What can a company do to prepare for cloud even though adoption is still a ways off in the future? “It is a good idea to ready your organization for cloud before you attempt to implement,” say Isom and Holley. “You can take actions such as research strategic advantages that your adoption will bring and ensure that you have adequate network capabilities.”

4. What are some financial advantages to consider? “Removing the burden of routine maintenance and management and accessing business applications via cloud offers enterprise stakeholders a prime opportunity to refocus energy on more strategic aspects of business and IT operations, freeing up time and resources, which can be used on growing the business.”

5. What types of workloads are being deployed on public and private clouds? “Typical entry points for public cloud workloads include those for collaboration, instant messaging, Web conferencing, email, idea management, and file sharing. Typical entry points for private cloud workloads include those that have a significant amount of interaction between various components that cant be moved immediately to a public cloud, and those workloads with regulatory compliance or proprietary information requirements.”

6. What are some contributors to unsuccessful cloud projects? The omission of a clearly defined cloud adoption strategy, Lack of a service catalog, mismanaged expectations between service consumers and providers, and failing to adequately address security.

7. Should companies do away with their data centers and move everything to the cloud? “Keep in mind that not all workloads—for example, some legacy applications—are suited for cloud.” Plus, Isom and Holey state, “not all hardware needs can be addressed via cloud.”

8. What are some key integration considerations when it comes to adopting cloud? “You need to consider the integration of cloud with your existing business processes, applications, data and security.”

9: What is the difference between cloud reference architectures and enterprise reference architectures? “Cloud reference architectures emphasize the architecture and components required to build a cloud solution. An enterprise reference architecture is derived from enterprise architecture (EA), it describes your enterprise strategy for designing and implementing solutions end to end and encompasses or references your cloud architecture.”

10. How does cloud fit in with a service oriented architecture (SOA) strategy? “Cloud is an expansion and realization of an SOA strategy.”

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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