Business Needs Should Drive Cloud Adoption Strategy
Every ISV and software-centric organization nowadays is thinking, "Cloud, cloud, cloud."
There's good reason for that because cloud computing in its many forms (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS) offers significant, tangible benefits in terms of cost reduction, speed to market, and accelerating innovation.
Of course, the question is not whether your organization should be migrating its products to the cloud or incorporating the cloud in your development process or anything like that. The cloud, at the end of the day, isn't about the cloud.
The real question is: What challenges does your business currently face? The cloud may indeed help you overcome some or even all of these challenges, but you don't start by exploring the universe of cloud-based solutions. Instead, you should start by considering these three things:
- Your actually business needs;
- Your current business model; and, finally,
- The benefits and risks associated with the many available solutions.
The goals that typically drive companies to consider cloud adoption or cloud-focused application development are:
- Innovation and new product development
- Accelerating release cycles and speed to market
- Prolonging legacy applications
- Reaching new marketing with existing applications
- Operational efficiency
Although there are certainly ways to address these goals without resorting to the cloud, customer demand for applications as a service, on the one hand, and pressure exerted by competitors who have begun taking advantage of cloud-based offerings on the other, can often stack the deck in that direction.
Your Current Business
The cloud is not "one size fits all." Indeed, determining whether your organization is cloud-ready, or if cloud solutions are even appropriate for your business, depends to a great degree on the answers to questions such as these:
- What kinds of technology does your product use? Java, C++, J2EE, .net? Something else?
- What kind of architecture does your product have - 2-tier, n-tier?
- Do you have geographic distribution requirements?
- Performance/SLA requirements?
- Integration needs such as cloud-to-cloud? Cloud-to-client? Hybrid cloud?
- Security or regulatory requirements?
- Implementation customization requirements?
The list could go on but, as you see, there are a number of dimensions to consider as you enter into the process of selecting the solution that best maps to your specific business objectives.
Picking the Right Cloud Service
Organizations can currently access cloud-based services at three different layers. Depending on your business, these services can have the following benefits and risks:
- Platform as a Service
- Primary Benefit: Fast development and deployment
- Main Risk: Vendor lock in
- Application as a Service
- Primary Benefit: Flexible technology and ease of portability
- Main Risk: Less "elastic" than platform approach
- Infrastructure as a Service
- Primary Benefit: Low cost
- Main Risk: Security
Although the overview we've provided here is fairly high-level, it should at least give you a framework for developing a cloud adoption strategy. It should also highlight that this strategy needs to begin with your business.
Our basic message is this: No one should adopt the cloud for the cloud's sake. However, everyone should carefully consider if it makes sense to move to the cloud, at whatever level, for the business' sake.That kind of careful consideration can be challenging in itself, but the effort is well worth it.
Image Source: Max Z - Licensed via Creative Commons
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