|By Christian Buckley||
|January 21, 2013 03:15 PM EST||
For many companies, the business benefits that cloud computing promises are too compelling too ignore: improved agility, lower costs, better resource allocation, and fewer operational issues. As a result, organizations have been moving commodity infrastructure and services to cloud-based services managed by some of the world's leading technology companies - including Office 365, Microsoft's primary offering for business productivity in the cloud.
Several new developments are making Office 365 even more enticing:
- New release of SharePoint: Extranets and public-facing websites are expensive in SharePoint 2010. However, with pricing changes and new web content management (WCM) functionality for SharePoint 2013, many organizations are beginning to take a second look at the cloud for some work streams as Office 365 gets updated in early 2013 with the latest SharePoint version.
- Broad Office 365 adoption: According to Kurt DelBene, President of the Office Division at Microsoft, Office 365 is on target to become the fastest-selling server product in Microsoft's history, outpacing all analyst expectations.
- Additional cost savings: With Office 365, organizations pay a monthly fee per user and gain access to ongoing maintenance and expertise to manage servers. That saves them from a huge, upfront operating expense. (We should point out, however, that because SharePoint Online is more of a product and service than a platform, it has more limited capabilities than the on-premises version, so long-term cost implications are not yet known.)
Given these gains, no company should ignore a move to the cloud. However, a full jump to the public cloud without careful consideration is ill advised. Some companies can't move everything to the cloud because they have compliance, regulatory, or government restrictions that limit where data can be stored and who can have access to it. But many companies shouldn't move everything to the cloud, because there is simply not parity between online and on-premise versions of SharePoint. What makes SharePoint compelling for many enterprises is the ability to extend, customize, and integrate with other enterprise systems, much of which is impossible with the Office 365 platform. Until there is parity, certain workstreams should stay in their current environments.
What's needed now is a thoughtful, strategic approach to cloud computing that is based on the needs of your business. Understanding which aspects of your organization's business systems can be moved, and should be moved, to the cloud is an important discussion that leaders must undertake. Although some work streams can be moved easily, many others require customization and management that only an on-premise deployment can support. That's why a hybrid model - comprising on-premise, private, and/or public cloud components - offers organizations the best way to ease into the cloud computing paradigm and leverage the promise of SharePoint Online.
Where to start? As part of readiness planning for cloud services adoption, companies must address seven critical success factors:
1. What are the business requirements?
As a first step, organizations must get their arms around the underlying business requirements of the environment, the key use cases, and the key work streams. For example, it may be possible to build out a lightweight customer relationship management solution, acting as a portal for sales, marketing, and support to connect with customers. But it may not make sense to move development team activities to the cloud due to integration issues with case management or configuration management systems. Outline your key workstreams, and then begin to map each workstream to your on-premise and online models to see which activities can be improved upon.
2. What are the business implications?
Companies must understand the implications of moving each use case and each work stream into the cloud. You must know the answers to these key questions: Can current functionality, security, audits, and reporting be replicated in the cloud? If key functions cannot be offered and supported, what are the risks? Say you have a ticketing system, with SharePoint acting as the front end. Without a full understanding of the architecture of the solution and how data is shared between the ticketing platform and SharePoint it may be difficult to understand the true cost implications of moving to the cloud. You also need an understanding of the performance and cost impacts to the large number of web service calls the platform may make within a pure cloud environment. Depending on the volume of data moved, how it is moved, and the timeframe for moving this important business system to the cloud, it may make financial sense to maintain an on-premise version of SharePoint for your product and support organizations.
3. What are the management ramifications?
Companies must understand the management implications of each work stream. It's not just a matter of "can we move it?" but "should we move it?" In some instances, a move to the cloud may result in added administrative effort and costs. Case in point: In one of the most common hybrid scenarios, a business that uses Office 365 as its extranet while maintaining an on-premise or dedicated cloud SharePoint environment may find that managing permissions, storage, and usage/activity is an extremely manual and time-consuming process. That's because there are no native tools for managing these functions across disparate SharePoint environments. Therefore, it's critical to look at your current metrics and KPIs for managing SharePoint, and understand the implications of duplicating these metrics within a new cloud environment - as well as combining and normalizing this data across all systems.
4. What about the end user experience?
We can't state this strongly enough: Companies must understand what the end-user experience will look like. If a hybrid environment adds effort or decreases productivity for end users, what is the cost? Consider these factors: Access to your enterprise platforms probably begins with a single sign-on experience - you log in once to get to all the tools and systems you need to do your business tasks. Your organization may have made significant investments to brand your internal platforms and put processes in place to maintain consistency across team sites and business unit portals. But, if you add another external system to the mix, what happens to the end-user experience? If permissions are separate, how does that affect end-user productivity? Your imperative is to understand how your primary users will conduct their business, thinking about the end-to-end experience, not just whether key functionality is being met through the new system. Remember: the more difficult a system is to use, the less likely people will be to use it.
5. How will we move?
If part of your organization, and key work streams, are moved to the cloud, what is the plan for the move? Will you move all at once? In waves? What about training? Migration and onboarding strategies vary widely. Your strategy should be based on critical path business use cases, helping those who rely on the new system before the masses. One strategy is to follow the 80/20 rule: concentrate your planning around the 20% of the users who use SharePoint most heavily, giving them 80% of your time, while spending 20% of your time with the remaining (mostly casual) users. However you decide to time moving end users and work streams, you must involve end users as you formulate and communicate your plan. The more you involve people in the process, the more likely they are to support that process.
6. How will we measure success?
Companies must have the right metrics in place to track performance across the entire environment. Companies also need to think about whether or not content needs to be synchronized between environments, or if these use cases can be maintained separately. Most companies fail at this today - because they don't have sufficient visibility into their SharePoint environment to generate and track adequate metrics. Moving to a hybrid model is a great opportunity to correct this trend. One strategy is to begin by identifying three key metrics across both systems, and build from there. An example might be Top 10 Most Active Sites, Top 10 Most Active Users, and Most Active Content Databases. Based on this data, you will gain a much better understanding of who is actually using SharePoint and where, allowing you to better allocate your time and resources to support the sites and users who are most active on the platform.
7. How will we enforce governance?
Ask yourself: Do we have a defined change management process? Do we have our roles and accountabilities defined? Are we actively reviewing and taking action on new requests? Are we giving end users and admins visibility into the changes being made and the priorities of those requirements? Having a governance body in place is crucial. Without automation, manual governance practices (policies, documentation, metrics) need to be extended or duplicated, with appropriate roles defined and assigned. Best practices include running through the document lifecycle across environments and identifying where current policies break. Focus your attention on the governance policies that manage risk - compliance, regulations, retention, or any other legal requirements of a hybrid system. Then define what it will take to maintain minimum security levels, and create a plan for automating and simplifying.
Despite the risks, some companies may be drawn into the cloud by the perceived cost savings, despite their customization or integration needs. This is a recipe for failure. Companies that successfully make the move to a hybrid model are those that understand the business activities that can be offloaded to the cloud, benefiting from its scale and cost benefits.
The beauty of a strategic, hybrid model is that it's not "all or nothing." By addressing the seven critical success factors outlined above, companies will be taking a holistic approach versus making a blind technology decision. By focusing on specific workstreams, and only building out those workstreams that can be supported, your company will end up with a strategic, hybrid model that supports the needs of your business.
For more information:
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...
Nov. 26, 2014 11:00 PM EST Reads: 835
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective ...
Nov. 26, 2014 10:45 PM EST Reads: 976
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrateg...
Nov. 26, 2014 09:00 PM EST Reads: 939
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water,...
Nov. 26, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 970
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 26, 2014 05:45 PM EST Reads: 917
When an enterprise builds a hybrid IaaS cloud connecting its data center to one or more public clouds, security is often a major topic along with the other challenges involved. Security is closely intertwined with the networking choices made for the hybrid cloud. Traditional networking approaches for building a hybrid cloud try to kludge together the enterprise infrastructure with the public cloud. Consequently this approach requires risky, deep "surgery" including changes to firewalls, subnets...
Nov. 26, 2014 04:45 PM EST Reads: 619
DevOps is all about agility. However, you don't want to be on a high-speed bus to nowhere. The right DevOps approach controls velocity with a tight feedback loop that not only consists of operational data but also incorporates business context. With a business context in the decision making, the right business priorities are incorporated, which results in a higher value creation. In his session at DevOps Summit, Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, discussed key monitoring techniques...
Nov. 26, 2014 04:45 PM EST Reads: 640
Want to enable self-service provisioning of application environments in minutes that mirror production? Can you automatically provide rich data with code-level detail back to the developers when issues occur in production? In his session at DevOps Summit, David Tesar, Microsoft Technical Evangelist on Microsoft Azure and DevOps, will discuss how to accomplish this and more utilizing technologies such as Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio online, and Application Insights in this demo-heavy session.
Nov. 26, 2014 04:45 PM EST Reads: 625
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 26, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,006
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device exp...
Nov. 26, 2014 03:45 PM EST Reads: 975
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect...
Nov. 26, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,470
High-performing enterprise Software Quality Assurance (SQA) teams validate systems that are ready for use - getting most actively involved as components integrate and form complete systems. These teams catch and report on defects, making sure the customer gets the best software possible. SQA teams have leveraged automation and virtualization to execute more thorough testing in less time - bringing Dev and Ops together, ensuring production readiness. Does the emergence of DevOps mean the end of E...
Nov. 25, 2014 11:30 PM EST Reads: 1,138
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using ...
Nov. 25, 2014 09:30 PM EST Reads: 1,223
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
Nov. 25, 2014 09:30 PM EST Reads: 1,278
"Verizon offers public cloud, virtual private cloud as well as private cloud on-premises - many different alternatives. Verizon's deep knowledge in applications and the fact that we are responsible for applications that make call outs to other systems. Those systems and those resources may not be in Verizon Cloud, we understand at the end of the day it's going to be federated," explained Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at...
Nov. 25, 2014 09:00 PM EST Reads: 1,336
"For the past 4 years we have been working mainly to export. For the last 3 or 4 years the main market was Russia. In the past year we have been working to expand our footprint in Europe and the United States," explained Andris Gailitis, CEO of DEAC, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 25, 2014 08:15 PM EST Reads: 1,119
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. Acco...
Nov. 25, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,316
The term culture has had a polarizing effect among DevOps supporters. Some propose that culture change is critical for success with DevOps, but are remiss to define culture. Some talk about a DevOps culture but then reference activities that could lead to culture change and there are those that talk about culture change as a set of behaviors that need to be adopted by those in IT. There is no question that businesses successful in adopting a DevOps mindset have seen departmental culture change, ...
Nov. 25, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,007
"Cloud consumption is something we envision at Solgenia. That is trying to let the cloud spread to the user as a consumption, as utility computing. We want to allow the people to just pay for what they use, not a subscription model," explained Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 25, 2014 06:15 PM EST Reads: 981
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps,...
Nov. 25, 2014 04:30 PM EST Reads: 1,318