Cloud-ed thinking

picture of cloudI joined an excellent workshop this week looking at how organisations think about their journey to the cloud.

There is a need to move beyond a simplistic “everyone else is doing it” rationale. But to create a compelling case for change, you have to connect the scalability, resilience and flexible cost opportunities that cloud gives you to some real customer needs or outcomes. Otherwise, it’s just another IT-led, cost reduction project. And we all know where those end up.

The smart answer is not to start with cost. That’s not to say there isn’t a cost opportunity, but the real-world complexities of sunk costs, enterprise licensing and transition expenses mean that it is unlikely to compelling, at least in the short-term. A much better place to start is to look again at the inflexibility in your activities. One of the challenges, though, is that we’re so used to putting up with the compromises that we can’t see them anymore. We need to step back and remember the e-commerce sites that slow down at Christmas, the management information portals that creak under the Monday morning load, and the price and promotion change “limits” that protect overnight batch processing. With proper planning and execution, all these become a thing of the past. It all about looking for the peaks and troughs of activity.

Our real challenge comes in migration. Small-scale “proofs of concept” are great for warming up, but they’re not the big prize. We need to find the first sizeable domain to migrate. And when you think about it, if you have a sizeable, transactional web presence, it’s a strong contender. Of course, migrating this capability will have its challenges. The systems won’t have been designed to take advantage of the near-zero to near-infinite capacity that’s on offer. And beyond the impressive Netflix and Amazon examples, they aren’t that many case studies on offer. Of course, that’s where picking the right partner can help …

Cloud-ed thinking

Rob works with technology start ups and leading retailers on the impact and opportunities of digital technologies