Why the cloud is not a silver bullet for faultless IT
It’s true that cloud technology offers enormous benefits to businesses. It gives cheaper, faster, and better results with less internal infrastructure and reduced workload for everyone especially your IT team. But these benefits won’t be felt immediately and certainly not by everyone. Like any technology, cloud computing may also fail. How is this possible?
Understand that cloud technology won’t work if the business or people implementing it lack understanding of the key areas that are crucial to its success such as pricing, scalability, contracts, resources, and so on. Needless to say, moving your IT to the cloud without clear-cut goals and a solid strategy will do more harm than good to your IT.
Cloud computing casualties
Research conducted by Enterprise Management Associates Inc. (EMA), commissioned by cloud infrastructure providers iland and VMware Inc., showed the staggering “project failure rates” of IaaS implementation experiences around the world with major vendors such as Amazon, Microsoft, VMware, and Rackspace. Based on the said report:
- 63% of AWS projects fail
- 57% of Rackspace projects fail
- 44% of Microsoft Azure projects fail
- 33% of VMware projects fail
This begs the question: are the platforms at fault? Not entirely. In fact, the study specified key areas where most businesses tend to fail. This includes:
- Expensive, difficult to understand contracts: 38% of customers
- Unexpected downtime: 35% of customers
- Confusing pricing: 33% of customers
- Steep resource management learning curve: 33% of customers
- Difficult scalability: 33% of customers
This doesn’t have to happen to your business. Failure can be averted if you are aware of the challenges associated with cloud implementation. This way you can prepare your business as early as the project inception stage.
Here are some steps you can do to avoid cloud implementation failure:
1. Develop a solid enterprise-wide strategy. A success strategy for your cloud computing project(s) should be comprised of realistic expectations to be achieved when you shift to the cloud technology (e.g. Reduce the company’s operational cost by 20%.). It’s also important to create a roadmap or plan for your business that will ensure additional strategic IT efficiencies, using cloud computing as a strategic enabling technology.
2. Have a complete understanding of the requirements. Take for example your internet connectivity. The quality of the internet connection is a key element of how seamless it is to access the cloud. To realise higher productivity and efficiency with cloud, you must always be connected to high-speed internet. Consider that the quality of the connection can vary a lot once you are out of the office (e.g, travelling, working from home, etc.). If most of your team members work remotely, you need to ensure they have access to high-speed internet otherwise your cloud investment will not deliver the efficiencies you had hoped for.
3. Scrutinise your cloud service contracts. All contracts are crucial including your cloud service contract. Do not rush and commit to a contract without understanding what you’re getting into. By giving yourself enough time to scrutinise the terms of your contract (inclusions, limitations, liabilities and obligations, etc.), you can avoid costly overruns, paying for nonessential services and costly add-ons that should have been included in the beginning.
4. Understand the uptime/downtime issue. When your service provider tells you they guarantee “99% uptime”, that doesn’t mean “constantly available”. Service may become unavailable to you for certain periods of the year/month/week. This is called “downtime”. It comes in many forms mostly due to server maintenance. But whatever the reason may be, downtime disrupts business continuity. It can affect your team’s ability to access data and services which could result to poor user experience, decreased productivity, wasted time and IT resources, and lost revenue. A 99.9% uptime is obviously a great guarantee, but it will also cost you more. Make sure to check your service level agreement (SLA) for guaranteed uptime.
5. Study the pricing. Cloud pricing must be understood not only what services and solutions are delivered by a service provider, but also the “other” costs. Keep in mind that no two clouds are the same. Some bundle components whilst others offer more granular purchasing. Others bill in different time increments, whilst there are providers/vendors who offer a variety of payment structures. It’s critical to do a financial analysis of the cloud service to identify the actual cost vs. the perceived cost benefit before you decide to move your IT. Continuous monitoring of costs is also necessary soon after you sign the contract to ensure your spending is aligned with your budget.
6. Understand cloud scalability. Scalability requires a depth of understanding. As a business owner or IT manager, you must have a solid understanding of what’s needed at all times during the project’s lifecycle, and how various pieces of the overall offering work together to ensure that scaling up or down does not negatively affect your users, existing processes, or the business in general.
7. Train and educate staff. What’s the use of investing in a new technology if your people don’t understand or are not prepared to use it? Put the right people in the right positions to mitigate risks. Use all available resources including your in-house talent to educate and train other employees on how to take advantage of the cloud technology and also how to safely work in a cloud environment.
Jumping into the cloud because “it worked with others” could be as risky as sticking to traditional computing. Understand that cloud technology is not a tool that will put your business on autopilot. Treat cloud computing as you would any tech investment. Understand all its aspects including the advantages and risks, and plan accordingly. If you approach the cloud with no strategy, you’re essentially destined to fail.
If you are finding it hard to figure out cloud computing on your own, consult the experts to help you create a cloud strategy based on your budget and requirements.
We can help you understand your cloud strategy options. Contact Centrix today!