One challenge that many IT organizations undertake when looking at vendor-provided cloud products is determining which products best meets their business needs. After products have been chosen, it is another effort to turn the vendor-provided products into cloud solutions that meet the business needs of the organization. Going through this process for a number of customers, I have found that several common lessons can be learned to allow quicker time-to-value and overall success of a customer’s cloud project.
First, it is critical for customers to have clear requirements of what they are trying to achieve with the cloud products they are purchasing. Often, separate parts of the organization have different goals that influence the scope and design of the solution. This can be detrimental to the success of the project. One example that has come up many times at various customers is the IT department looking to build an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) solution offering while the business unit really needs a development test cloud solution that includes platform as a service (PaaS) type solutions. Gaps in expectations and requirements should be addressed early in the project to avoid larger problems later in the project. I have encountered many customers that have had to re-work much of their cloud solutions with additional products and customization because they did not have clearly defined requirements.
Another key to successfully turning cloud products into cloud solutions is having clear standards and policies. This approach is critical from a service catalog perspective, when a service is planned for delivery through a public or hybrid cloud. A complete and clear set of policy statements is required, so they can then be automated to permit the flexibility that is usually required for cloud solutions. Furthermore, the service catalog should clearly state what the cloud solution will provide and the service levels around these services. This way can help ensure that expectations are met from users and customers of the cloud solution. If a customer has good standards or policies around certain aspects of service management, it is recommended to leverage those already existing policies and standards if possible. Many times this can save a lot of time in a project and allow for best practices, which might already exist in an organization, to be reused.
Finally, it is recommended that organizations partner with their vendors when creating cloud solutions. Many times, customers leverage components from a vendor ; those components might not always best fit the customers’ use case. This leveraging can lead to unnecessary custom development by the customer. Many times this leveraging occurs because of a lack of knowledge by the organization of vendor product capability. An example of this issue is in the development and test cloud use case where components from, IBM Rational, Tivoli, and WebSphere make up a complete cloud solution:
For organizations to turn vendor cloud products into cloud solutions, customers must have clearly defined requirements. In addition, it is critical that they have clear policies and standards around the services they plan to provide. Finally, partnering with product vendors ensures the best solution for a customer’s use case, by ensuring the right products are put together to make up the final cloud solution.