Putting Strategy into Cloud Computing (Part 1 of 2)

Pam Coffey

by Pam Coffey

I was talking with one of my long-term customers the other day around the topic of cloud computing and whether it was right for his company.  He also wondered how to tell what kind of cloud computing model would be a good fit and how would he, as an IT professional, control all the workloads that could literally be anywhere if he wasn’t careful with his approach.  We decided to hold a strategic session with him, his managers, and representatives from his key customers (business units requesting services from IT).

In preparation for the session which would be to create a strategic plan for IT’s ability to achieve better alignment with business requirements (no mention of products or technologies at this point), I asked him to answer the following questions:

  • Do you know the costs associated with each business unit and their utilization of shared infrastructure? This is critical for aligning infrastructure to appropriate business units.
  • Do you know a cost per VM? This cost is useful in comparing to that offered by cloud providers and as a baseline for marking cost and operational improvements.
  • Can you list the areas where the business units would say IT isn’t responsive and/or flexible enough to meet their needs?
  • Do you use a set of standard “builds” or “offerings” for provisioning for the business units?
  • Do you have written Service Level Agreements or Service Offerings and are they exposed to the business units along with their associated costs?

Like most customer’s that have experienced explosive growth due to the success of their initial virtualization efforts, my customer had to say “no” to the questions above.  In my experience, this isn’t surprising and there is good reason for this lack of information.  However, these are some of the common questions that have to be answered prior to making a wise decision about leveraging cloud computing.

For example, if you don’t have thorough and detailed cost information for your business units and associated costs per VM, how can you know if putting those workloads in the cloud is economically feasible?  Similarly, without standard offerings and associated SLAs, IT will find it difficult to select the appropriate cloud providers and broker workloads to these providers.