|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:
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
Dec. 3, 2016 04:30 PM EST Reads: 1,459
Predictive analytics tools monitor, report, and troubleshoot in order to make proactive decisions about the health, performance, and utilization of storage. Most enterprises combine cloud and on-premise storage, resulting in blended environments of physical, virtual, cloud, and other platforms, which justifies more sophisticated storage analytics. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Peter McCallum, Vice President of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor, discussed using predictive analytics to mon...
Dec. 3, 2016 04:00 PM EST Reads: 4,846
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of Soli...
Dec. 3, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 1,566
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Dec. 3, 2016 03:15 PM EST Reads: 3,215
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service. In his session at 19th Cloud Exp...
Dec. 3, 2016 03:00 PM EST Reads: 452
Fact: storage performance problems have only gotten more complicated, as applications not only have become largely virtualized, but also have moved to cloud-based infrastructures. Storage performance in virtualized environments isn’t just about IOPS anymore. Instead, you need to guarantee performance for individual VMs, helping applications maintain performance as the number of VMs continues to go up in real time. In his session at Cloud Expo, Dhiraj Sehgal, Product and Marketing at Tintri, sha...
Dec. 3, 2016 02:45 PM EST Reads: 768
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
Dec. 3, 2016 02:45 PM EST Reads: 654
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Dec. 3, 2016 02:45 PM EST Reads: 490
Regulatory requirements exist to promote the controlled sharing of information, while protecting the privacy and/or security of the information. Regulations for each type of information have their own set of rules, policies, and guidelines. Cloud Service Providers (CSP) are faced with increasing demand for services at decreasing prices. Demonstrating and maintaining compliance with regulations is a nontrivial task and doing so against numerous sets of regulatory requirements can be daunting task...
Dec. 3, 2016 02:45 PM EST Reads: 684
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to impr...
Dec. 3, 2016 02:15 PM EST Reads: 6,948
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Dec. 3, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 455
Join Impiger for their featured webinar: ‘Cloud Computing: A Roadmap to Modern Software Delivery’ on November 10, 2016, at 12:00 pm CST. Very few companies have not experienced some impact to their IT delivery due to the evolution of cloud computing. This webinar is not about deciding whether you should entertain moving some or all of your IT to the cloud, but rather, a detailed look under the hood to help IT professionals understand how cloud adoption has evolved and what trends will impact th...
Dec. 3, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 2,472
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Dec. 3, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 2,121
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
Dec. 3, 2016 01:15 PM EST Reads: 609
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Dec. 3, 2016 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,864
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 3, 2016 01:00 PM EST Reads: 300
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busin...
Dec. 3, 2016 12:45 PM EST Reads: 3,770
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Dec. 3, 2016 12:45 PM EST Reads: 1,948
[slides] Agility for Digital Transformation | @CloudExpo @NewhouseConsult #Agile #DigitalTransformation
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
Dec. 3, 2016 12:45 PM EST Reads: 729
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
Dec. 3, 2016 12:15 PM EST Reads: 1,504