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Cloud Computing: The New Strategic Weapon

Every executive has heard the everyone—including those at the the financial and strategic
pitch for cloud computing, highest levels—truly understands benefits of the cloud.
including the storied accounts of the technology or its advantages.
the huge savings that come with Benefits of moving to the cloud “Project management leadership is
the technology. But unless project include: key on these projects,” says Chris
leaders focus on establishing the McLean, head of capability
strategic value and long-term On-demand: Server or service is enhancement at the Project and
measures of success, these set up and ready for use. Programme Academy at Fujitsu
investments will fail to deliver the Scalable: Organizations can turn United Kingdom/Ireland in London,
expected ROI. the cloud on and off as demand England. “Experience in cloud
ebbs and flows. computing and a background in
Research giant Gartner found that Measureable: Organizations know project management and business
cloud computing ranked as the top precisely what they are getting for sector principles are vital when you
technical priority of CIOs in 2011 , what they are paying. are embarking on such a paradigm
and rightfully so. Transitioning data shift.”
and applications into vendor- Yet the mass migration of data and
supported clouds can cut costs. apps to remote servers can be Eight Key Takeaways for
The U.S. federal government, for fraught with pitfalls. Organizations Implementing Cloud
example, could save US$18.8 that do not carefully plan, execute Computing
billion dollars by consolidating its and monitor the transformation
data centers using cloud using established project Every cloud project should include:
computing. Cloud computing also management best practices will
improves accessibility for not reap the full benefits cloud  A strategic vision of the
employees around the world and computing can provide. organizational benefits,
enables IT teams to focus on whether it is cost savings,
strategic rather than administrative Chief challenges for cloud projects improved flexibility or more
tasks, while remaining agile and include: advanced capabilities
flexible. Meanwhile, organizations  Securing buy-in from
with systems that experience leadership  Selection and prioritization
sudden influxes of traffic are  Assessing risks of the right projects to move
increasingly taking advantage of  Implementing vendor protocols into the cloud, with an initial
the operational flexibility that cloud  Establishing governance focus on those that deliver
computing affords. processes measurable bottom-line
 Instituting data security—both benefits with low security risks
Gartner predicts 43 percent of virtual and physical—and
worldwide organizations will recovery plans  An implementation plan that
embrace cloud computing and includes testing prior to roll-
virtualization in some form in 2011, And, perhaps most crucially, cloud out, a transition schedule with
up from just 3 percent in 2010. project leaders and sponsors must strategies for managing the
Analyst firm 451 Market Monitor effectively measure and data during the crossover, and
forecasts that cloud computing communicate the organizational a backup plan in case the
revenue will jump to US$16.7 ROI. system goes down or data is
billion by 2013, a growth of 24 lost in the transfer process
percent over 2010. Only through strong project
management can organizations
 A change management, or
For all the money being thrown move beyond the hype to reap
communications campaign,
into the clouds, however, not
to educate everyone from
executives to end users about organization needs to consider
why the organization is moving it,” he says. Organizations need someone on
into the cloud, the impact it will the project team who can analyze
have on their jobs, and the Bringing in key stakeholders during the portfolio, prioritize the
benefit it will bring to them and the planning process can help appropriate applications for
to the business hone strategic benefits and build a transformation and identify the
road map for achieving those tasks necessary to make them
 A sufficiently detailed risk- goals. “Identify what you want to cloud-ready.
management plan identifying accomplish and the first thing to
privacy and regulatory move into the cloud,” Ms. Giunta The Project:
concerns, as well as issues says.
relating to data storage, The Organization: m62
protection and replication The initial project is the most visualcommunications, Liverpool,
important because it will be used England
 Careful vendor selection and as the model for future initiatives.
vetting plan that covers cost, Ms. Giunta advises companies to The Sector: Business services
security of data centers and IT choose carefully and to start small. support
processes, interface usability, “A lot of people want to tackle their
backup strategies, regulatory biggest challenges first, but that’s The ROI: Reduced overhead,
compliance, reliability and the wrong way to go,” she says. global access to data and better
customer satisfaction “You’ve got to walk before you quality project management
 An adequate governance
process to assess security, Project leaders should keep in When m62 visualcommunications
and evaluate the quality and mind, though, that the first project decided to move some of its critical
should also be something business applications into the
access to cloud tools and
significant enough to demonstrate cloud, the company knew very well
technologies the value of the cloud for larger there would be risks—including
initiatives. If it is too small, the that all its data would be thrown
 Formalized metrics of ROI to benefits may not be convincing offline.
the business, be it through enough.
bottom-line savings on servers But the company also realized it
or increased sustainability Size is not the only factor. Not would no longer be forced to deal
every application or database can with its clunky in-house
be easily moved to a cloud- applications. “It was difficult to get
computing format. Some systems data in and out of our systems
Walk Before You Run need to be virtualized, rewritten or from remote locations, because as
reformatted. Others are a small business we didn’t have
multigenerational and interwoven the IT team in-house to support
Before launching any cloud with other databases and upgrades and system
projects, organizations must applications, making them difficult management,” says Jo McGlynn,
understand what they aim to gain, to disassemble. Still others may be delivery manager.
says Siki Giunta, global vice at the beginning of their hardware
president of cloud computing and investment life cycle and not a M62 began by moving its sales
cloud services at CSC, a global IT cost-effective choice for early data to the cloud. To address the
systems integration and consulting transition. risk of an implementation failure,
company in Falls Church, Virginia,
the company initially considered
USA. “For some companies, it’s If these issues are not identified transitioning the database slowly
cost savings. For others, it’s early, project leaders may choose over several weeks to ensure the
agility—but every project has to applications that either do not technology worked. Managing both
have a defined benefit driving the deliver significant value or run into systems simultaneously would be
change.” problems and delays that tarnish confusing, require a major time
future projects. commitment and introduce the
Determining the business case
danger of data error, however.
and securing stakeholder buy-in is “In an average company, only
the first major project management one-third of the application So the company decided to
hurdle, says Mr. McLean. “The portfolio is ready for the cloud, transfer the entire database over
challenge with this kind of one-third needs some the course of a single day. “It was
transformation project is virtualization, and one-third will a huge known risk, because if
understanding what the never be moved,” Ms. Giunta something went wrong we would
technology is and why the estimates. have to input all that—and any
new—data back into the old people, cloud computing will To mitigate risk, project leaders
system,” Ms. McGlynn says. trigger a potentially uncomfortable should go in armed with a
culture change. “You are enabling contingency plan for when
As a contingency plan against people to execute business in a something goes wrong. “If mission-
system failure, she had everyone different way,” Mr. Mclean says. critical data gets hacked into
in-house ready to reenter data on “But they have to understand because it’s in the cloud, that’s
the day of the transition. It turned that it’s an opportunity, not a front-page news,” Mr. McLean
out to be an unnecessary threat.” says. “Project leaders need to
precaution. There were no understand what degree of risk
glitches. It is a crucial distinction, they are willing to take with data
particularly among stakeholders and how secure it will be where it
For six months following the who may still be unclear on resides.”
transition, Ms. McGlynn tracked precisely what cloud computing is
the system. When she was and the value it brings. “If That said, many of the data
confident the data was secure and stakeholders have fears about centers run by cloud vendors are
easy to access, she started rolling cloud computing you have to more secure than in-house
out more complex features, address them right away,” says systems, particularly among
including revenue tracking, Bruce Williams, IT manager for the smaller organizations that lack a
timesheets and progress reports. city of Bradenton, Florida, USA, robust data security plan. A
which has several applications and reputable cloud vendor should
“More importantly from a project databases in the cloud. have 24/7 staff and aggressive
management standpoint, we spend physical security measures, as
less time administering our He suggests involving vendors in well as formal plans for data back-
applications and more time running these conversations. “They should up and mirror sites in case of a
projects for our clients,” she says. be well-versed in these issues and shutdown.
“We have greater productivity and ready to respond to your
better-quality project management. questions.” Project executives may still want to
Those benefits far outweigh the see it for themselves. A vendor
risks of implementation.” The biggest concerns for many should give potential customers
stakeholders, particularly those at access to the site where the data
Moving to the cloud also means the executive level, are tied to will be housed, be willing to show
data is updated more frequently security and regulatory issues. A them the security measures used
and the system is accessible to survey from Kaspersky Lab found on the premises and within the
everyone at any project site. that 62 percent of IT managers system, and demonstrate that they
were worried about the security of meet all compliance requirements,
Ms. McGlynn’s strategy is to shift the cloud . The survey also found such as housing data in-country.
all of m62’s applications to the that 60 percent of respondents
cloud. Yet she also wants to be said fears about data protection The contract with the vendor
sure employees do not feel prevent them from moving should also explicitly state who
overwhelmed and that the options mission-critical data to cloud owns the data and how it will be
she chooses add strategic value environments. removed from their system should
while protecting corporate data. the relationship end, says Mr.
The fears are not unfounded. McLean. “The vendor you choose
“There are so many features you Housing critical corporate data today may not meet your needs
can take advantage of,” she says. outside the four walls of the tomorrow,” he says. “You need to
“But it’s important to take it slow.” organization adds another level of be prepared for changes in
risk. And even big players can face business priorities or process.”
technology problems that knock
Winning Over the Skeptics their systems—and the data The Project:
within—offline. In April 2011, for
example, technical problems The Organization: City of
Along with identifying the strategic interrupted Amazon’s cloud Bradenton, Florida, USA
benefits of the cloud project and services for two days, leaving
choosing the right workload to companies with no system backup The Sector: Government
move, the project management plan without access to their own
plan must include a well thought- data. Those organizations that had The ROI: Deliver the same service
out and clear change management geographically diffuse data centers with half the staff and greater
plan for the entire organization. suffered less—another factor for predictability
project leaders to consider when
That communication should choosing a vendor. The city of Bradenton had a simple
acknowledge the fact that for many reason for its move to the cloud:
Less than a year after it was Although it adds an extra step to relationship, as well as a technical
purchased, the server hosting the the process, it keeps the IT team in team on the vendor side. “If
city’s email was almost full. the loop when problems arise and something goes down or you have
reduced the culture shock of the a problem, you need to know who
The city had few options: Every move, he says. “It allows us to act to talk to and where boundaries in
email that goes into or out of a city as a liaison between the people service provision lie,” he says.
agency must be saved for at least and the vendor.”
three years. Not only was all that Especially in those critical first
data absorbing expensive server Since the initial implementation, months after rollout, project
space, the city had to employ a Mr. Williams has transitioned other leaders must also work closely
full-time person whose sole job databases to the remote servers with the user community to identify
was to manage the data. and rolled out a cloud-based potential interface or usability
document-management system issues, says Ms. Giunta. “You may
“From a cost point of view, moving project. He is currently in the find you don’t have enough
email to the cloud was a win-win planning phase of a project to connections to meet user needs,
decision,” says Bruce Williams, IT move the city’s enterprise resource the interface isn’t allowing users to
manager for the city. It cost less to management system to another interact with data effectively, or
pay for a cloud service than to host cloud-based service. there is not enough RAM to
the data in-house, and the support growth.” By tracking
transition allowed for a predictable “That project will be more critical stakeholder concerns, project
fixed cost per month, per mailbox. than the email, so we are taking teams can identify and fix major
our time,” he says. He anticipates problems before they impact
“This way, if we need to cut our moving one department at a time productivity.
budget, we can go through and over 18 months so his team can
identify whose mailbox we can track progress and deal with any Project leaders should also
reasonably cut off,” he says. implementation issues that arise. monitor system schedules to
identify and plan for coming peaks
After two months assessing Starting with the email storage in usage, she says. “If you don’t
vendors, the city chose a provider system helped his team gain know the rhythm of your workload,
with a central Florida-based data confidence with the cloud transition you can’t forecast capacity.” Of
center designed to withstand process while easing stakeholders’ course, one strategic advantage of
Category 5 hurricanes. Compared concerns. “Since the first email the cloud is that capacity can be
to Bradenton’s coastal offices, it is cloud project went so well, added easily and quickly—
a much safer place to store the people have jumped on the organizations can often add
data, Mr. Williams says. cloud wagon,” Mr. Williams says. servers in a matter of minutes.
“Today no one objects.”
And because the data was being No matter how smoothly
saved for public record, security It also freed the city’s IT team to implementation goes, a cloud
was not a big issue for most focus on other projects and project will only gain organizational
stakeholders. lowered staffing requirements. buy-in if the bottom-line benefits
“Today we offer the same can be measured and reported.
“The only challenge came from the support with four people instead
police department,” Mr. Williams of eight,” he says. “At a time when Using the baseline and strategic
says. The provider was able to every position is scrutinized, that’s goals, project leaders should be
quell the police chief’s security a great savings.” able to chart their successes, both
concerns by explaining the through cost and time savings as
company’s encryption services, well as improved performance.
and the project moved forward. Due Vigilance Stakeholders must also be made
to understand how the project’s
As part of the implementation plan, One common mistake companies successes relate to the
Mr. Williams’ team had to decide make in moving to the cloud is organization’s strategic goals.
how to manage the help desk to forgoing governance, says Mr.
support end-users. In the past, all McLean. “The governance process The stakes are especially high for
calls were routed through is critical. You need to know in an organization’s first cloud
Bradenton’s IT department. Rather advance everyone’s role in the project, which often serves as a
than have users contact the project and their boundaries and litmus test for future ventures.
vendor directly, Mr. Williams’ team expectations for delivery.” Proving—or failing to prove—value
continued accepting calls and out of the gate can have a far-
submitting help tickets. That process should include reaching effect.
having a point person at both
organizations to manage the
“This is where it is so important for implementation and beyond. Only stakeholders and end users
the CIO to have a clear when they follow these vital project through the transition.
understanding of the ROI,” says management steps can they
Ms. Giunta. “Support for cloud achieve the greatest ROI in cloud “Project management skills and
projects in the future will always be computing and communicate that competencies are an important
linked to the success of that first success across the organization. part of the framework for this
effort.” paradigm shift,” he says.
“Cloud computing is the
technology of the future. It’s And organizations that attempt to
Summary changing the way technology move into the cloud without
supports the business,” Mr. committing to those best practices
To reap the benefits of cloud McLean says. Yet embracing that risk failing perilously behind as the
projects, organizations must define technology requires strong project IT landscape inexorably changes.
strategic goals, address risks, and management leadership and
carefully monitor progress through technical expertise to ease

2011 CIO Agenda, Gartner. Results based on a survey of 2,014 CIOs representing more
than US$ 160 billion in spending across 50 countries and 38 industries.
Federal Data Center Consolidation Measure to Manage, MeriTalk. Results based on an
online survey of 152 U.S. federal IT decision-makers on 20 March 2011.
2011 CIO Agenda
Cloud Market Overview Report II: ‘As-A-Service’ Market Sizing, The 451 Group,
October 2010.
Kaspersky Lab online survey of 155 U.K.-based IT managers in April 2011.