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Cloud Expo: Article

Cloud Implementation: Ensuring Success

Like any other solution implementation, service providers need to focus on four key areas

Deploying Cloud infrastructure is not a typical technology project. Success of a Cloud implementation depends on governance, policies, constraints and business relationship management.  This article focuses on some basic important areas that cannot be ignored while implementing a Public Cloud solution. To keep it simple, let us focus on green-field implementation of a public cloud infrastructure.

Like any other solution implementation, service providers need to focus on four key areas: Strategy, Business processes, Technology and people skills. Quite often, cloud implementations focus on infrastructure (and forget processes) and then see if the deployment meets their overall strategy or not. Such an approach results in unsuccessful implementations. Investing in business management, people and processes before the technology will ensure success with your cloud computing. Even in a green-field implementation, the right approach is to build and agree on the strategy first, ensure that business processes are aligned to meet the strategy; then focus on technology and people skills aligned to overall strategy. Such an approach ensures that the Cloud implementation meets the overall strategy and results in success. HP has a proven methodology, called Solution Consulting Services (SCS), to help Service Providers get better alignment of strategy, processes and technology while taking such a customer-centric journey. While taking any architectural decisions or at any change in technology, it is beneficial to evaluate impact on the overall strategy and service delivery to customers. For this reason, it is prudent to involve the marketing team during the implementation.

Let us now take a look at these areas and summarize key important points while planning deployment of Public Cloud service.

Strategy:

  • Leading the organization: Cloud is a new way of delivering traditional services and to take the organization through this change, leadership and sponsorship of senior management is critical.
    • Understand the market, clearly define the desired end state, build a pragmatic roadmap to achieve the goal and rally the organization towards the future goal; communicate the vision and create buy-in throughout the organization; agree on approach to the market
    • Build a living strategy document and a road map to achieve desired measurable business outcomes
  • Leverage your strengths and strategic assets: Leverage networking, a key strategic asset, which can differentiate CSPs from other services from IT companies by demonstrating end-to-end value and quality of service. The strategy should be to offer bundled services that include typical IT centric services along with communication as a service.
  • Understand acquisition and operational costs: Have clear understanding on how to measure agility, cost and quality of service; understand and agree on any compromises in these areas
  • Based on market study, clearly define required functionality, scalability etc. to be competitive; Leverage best-practices and lessons already learnt by others
  • Avoid vendor lock-in: Standards are evolving for Cloud inter-operability. It is best to go for open architecture based on industry standard products and avoid vendor lock-in

Process

  • Define end-to-end Service Delivery: Technology is the easiest component of a cloud deployment. According to a Gartner report, technology is less difficult than the changes required in processes, funding models, organization culture and politics, and service definition and delivery.
  • Define Business Policies: Public Cloud implementation requires you to think through and decide on policies, governance and allocation models; the software itself cannot do all this for you. There are software products available in the market to implement business policies. But a lot of attention must be given to define those business policies, charging options, SLAs etc.
  • Changing business relationships: Cloud computing brings in automation in service delivery as well as in service consumption; both service providers and consumers will have to change their existing processes to accommodate this. Understand the impact of Cloud computing on operational processes and manage the changing relationship between you and your customers.

Technology:

The architectural requirements of cloud computing include following key areas:

  • Standardization:
    • Standardize and automate as much as possible from the start to keep the operational costs low
    • Customers typically expect the same level of service quality, flexibility and control as in the traditional dedicated physical environment.

- The cloud environment is far more complex and dynamic than the traditional dedicated physical environment. There are many more servers to manage because of the ability to rapidly create virtual servers. Cloud services are continually being created, moved among physical resources, and retired by customers.

o  Select products and solutions that give you flexibility, control and automation features needed for today and tomorrow; avoid customized automation

  • Automation:
    • The automation and orchestration layer turns a virtual environment into a cloud environment. A special focus is needed on automation and efficient use of resources.
    • Rapid provisioning; speed of delivery
    • Ability to create, launch and terminate cloud instances as needed
    • Resource optimization: Manage service levels across applications and a virtual infrastructure, and allocate resources based on business needs.
    • Integrated Service Management: Monitor and manage services and not just infrastructure components.
  • Service catalogs:
    • Self-service portal to present service catalogs

- Transition from an infrastructure-oriented approach to a service-oriented approach for service delivery and management is needed. This includes providing a catalog of standardized IT services and supporting self-service and automated provisioning of standardized services. In addition, it's important to integrate IT processes and tools and be able to support multiple service sourcing options.

o    The cloud environment may include services from a variety of external providers, greatly increasing the number of vendors for SP to manage. This also increases risk of software license and compliance violations.

  • Identity and subscriber management:
    • Privacy and Compliance requirements

- Compliance with security-related issues is very important in the cloud. IT must ensure that information, data ownership, and billing/accounting information are secure. In addition, it is also critical to protect the physical storage of information from privacy and security point of views.

  • Charging/Billing: Service charging, billing and integration with CRM: Even in a green-field implementation, we have to have clear understanding, based on market analysis, on how each service will be charged and how CSRs will be able to support customers. Some services are offered at fixed price whereas others are billed based on usage. Each market is different and the architecture should be able to give flexibility to marketing units.
  • Industry Standards: Consider standards in areas such as public cloud interoperability, chargeback measurements, service-level definitions, etc. We are in the early days of cloud computing, and there will be new standards defined as cloud computing matures. For this reason, investing in technologies based on open and industry standards is of paramount importance.

People

  • As Cloud computing is a new way to deliver traditional services, organizations and people skills must shift to reflect the changes required in becoming a service provider. New skill sets are required in areas like modeling service architectures, building and testing automation, and scripting interfaces. With increase in level of automation and agility, the emphasis shifts to monitoring utilization, understanding trends etc. for more proactive steps. Training sales teams to sell Public Cloud computing as well as other bundled services cannot be emphasized more.

With the right approach, one can align implementation to meet the long term strategy of the organization. It is worth spending a bit more time planning deployment and understanding its impact on the strategy and end-users.

More Stories By Kapil Raval

Kapil Raval is an experienced technology solutions consultant with nearly 20 years of experience in the telecom industry. He thinks ‘the business’ and focuses on linking business challenges to technology solutions. He currently works for HP and drives strategic solutions in the telecom vertical.