We’ve written before about the benefits of moving your application portfolio to the cloud. The benefits can range from cost savings and a higher level of innovation to strategic advantage in the case of business-critical applications. With the worsening economic conditions, the maturation of companies like Salesforce and the growing drumbeat of successes at large enterprises, more and more CIOs at large enterprises want to evaluate cloud computing.
- Complexity of current IT portfolio: Any large IT organization has a plethora of custom and packaged applications, multiple databases, one or more types of middleware and lots of datacenters. Given such complex application and infrastructure portfolios, it’s not clear where to start or what the right path forward is.
- Size and scope of the cloud ecosystem: The ecosystem of cloud applications, platforms and infrastructure has grown rapidly over the past few years. TripleTree research estimates that there are 2000+ SaaS applications, let alone all the platform, infrastructure and service providers.
- Confusing marketing messages and FUD: The growth and interest in cloud computing have led everyone from IBM to SAP throw their hats in the cloud ring. Each company has their own spin on cloud computing ranging from IBM’s “private clouds” to Microsoft’s “software + services”. Since every vendor talks about cloud computing from their own perspective, it’s hard to parse what it actually means to the customer.
The Cloud Portfolio Mapping Approach
We’ve worked with a number of large enterprises to build the business case for cloud computing, map their application and infrastructure portfolios, and help them chart their path to the cloud. Based on this experience, we’ve identified 3 things that every enterprise can do to get started on the path to the cloud.
1) Current State Assessment:
2) Opportunity Identification and Prototyping:
After developing a baseline understanding of cloud platforms and use cases, you can identify opportunities in your own portfolio. It’s best to develop a long-list of opportunities (based on your pain points and priorities) and get started with a prototype. We’ve typically focused prototypes on areas that address an immediate pain point and are relatively self-contained. Examples range from an IT project portfolio management application (shown in the screenshots above), to a floor-level manufacturing capacity management application to a Gmail or Salesforce pilot.
Prototypes are critical to demonstrate the impact of cloud computing. We can talk about the benefits of cloud computing, but it’s completely different to experience it in your organization. Whether it’s the speed and ease of development on Force.com or the search experience in Gmail, experiencing the benefits first-hand creates significant excitement and drives momentum.
3) Roadmap and Impact
The final step is prioritizing the long-list of opportunities. We’ve typically done this by looking at the risk and reward associated with each opportunity and then sequencing the projects based on your appetite for risk and financial objectives. Turning the roadmap into reality will require a solid business case as well as a change plan for your organization. Prototypes go a long way toward demonstrating the benefits and can be used as real-life data points to support the business case. This makes the business case far more impactful than if it’s based on academic assumptions.
Cloud computing is a significant mindset and skill shift within IT and more broadly within your business. To ensure success, it’s critical to develop a communication and change plan, as well as a training program for your staff. When this is done well, we’ve seen IT teams energized and excited about the possibilities. Unlike traditional models like outsourcing, cloud platforms help IT teams get closer to the business, so there’s plenty to get excited about.
Force.com Free Edition and Force.com Sites make it easy for companies to get started building applications in the cloud. We’re excited to offer “Day in the Cloud” workshops to help accelerate this process. These 1-2 day workshops help you accelerate the cloud portfolio mapping process and quickly realize the benefits of cloud computing – quantifiable ROI, rapid time-to-value and innovation that drives the business.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us with any questions about getting stated with cloud computing. We look forward to hearing from you!