A compelling cost proposition is just the ante for providers of cloud computing services. When considering costs for cloud services, it’s tempting to look only at the cost per drink. However, as cloud offerings become more sophisticated and more robust enterprise and industry applications become available, the cost of the hosted service will become much less important and replaced by discussions we in the enterprise IT management realm are already very familiar with concerning people, processes and architecture.
There are 5 questions that we are hearing now from our clients as they consider taking the next steps into the cloud – whether they are already users of simple infrastructure services or have started the cloud-based application journey with GMail/GDocs for the enterprise or Salesforce.com:
- What are the viable paths to move my application into the cloud?
- What architectural changes are required to integrate cloud and non-cloud systems?
- How should my infrastructure and operations processes change to take advantage of different procurement, provisioning and management models?
- How can a private cloud give me more flexibility than current hosting approaches?
- Who is responsible for managing identity and privacy in environments that mix cloud and non-cloud systems?
These questions follow the obvious transition from cloud applications to cloud systems. For example, Salesforce.com is a great cloud application that tracks targets and prospects through your business development, sales and relationships cycles. When an application like Salesforce.com really takes hold in your organization, the conversation quickly jumps to the “systems” conversation – in this example, a customer management system. Added into the mix are questions like (replace Salesforce.com with “any cloud app” if you like):
- How do I make sure all of the customers in Salesforce.com are synchronized with those in my customer management application, my billing application and my 6 product systems?
- Should I add custom application logic into Salesforce to validate customer and company information against my master list or should I do it externally?
- What kinds of skills and other organizational considerations should I make for the IT staff supporting my customer systems?
As cloud services and their underlying architectural platforms become more robust, so too will the discussions around the true costs of the “business systems” that incorporate them. So, it’s important to quickly get beyond the usage costs for a cloud service and spend enough time to understand the total costs to migrate, implement, integrate, train, and redesign the surrounding and supporting systems and processes.
If you would be interested in joining a deeper conversation on cloud computing, consider joining me and my colleagues John Sviokla and David Reed in Chicago on November 5 at Diamond’s Seeing Thru The Clouds event.
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