The corporate landscape is littered with the unfortunate results of failed IT projects. Any number of factors can account for tech initiatives that don’t work out. But it’s a good bet that if a project is launched without any real consideration for business goals or specific problems to be solved, it will not end well or at the very least will not be as successful as it might have been.
While there’s nothing wrong with experimentation for the right reasons and in the proper context, investments in technology for technology’s sake can be huge and costly mistakes. There should be a business reason for deploying a new service or technology, if none other than to evaluate whether it’s delivering on objectives.
This certainly applies to building a hybrid cloud environment specifically, and to cloud computing in general.
According to a February 2015 Forrester Research report – “Justify Your Hybrid Cloud Future With A Solid Business Case,” you can't easily make apples-to-apples cost comparisons between running apps on premises and on a cloud platform, as a SaaS subscription, or with a managed cloud service provider. Your business case must include not only capital infrastructure savings but operational cost benefits such as developer productivity and faster time-to-market. Before asking "Which one?"
CIOs must first answer "Why?"
Organizations must have a clear understanding of the business outcomes they want to achieve with any cloud initiatives they undertake. For example, ask:
- Is the company looking to consolidate its IT footprint and reduce capital expenditures and reduce energy consumption by eliminating onsite servers or storage systems?
- Is it trying to deliver enhanced IT services to employees so they can speed up new product development or provide improved customer service?
- Is the goal to have increased agility and scalability to more cost-effectively address seasonal changes in demand for capacity?
The better connection your company can make between its cloud investments and the desired business outcomes, the greater the chances for success.
In an update on cloud computing projects in 2014, Gigaom Research analyst David Linthicum notes that the challenges enterprises face as they roll out first-generation cloud-based solutions seem to focus on a few key areas, one of which is the ability to define a solid business case and map that to key metrics that are gathered after deployment.
“The bottom line does not seem to be as important as once thought, when it comes to building and deploying cloud computing solutions,” Linthicum says. Return on investment “often takes a back seat. When business cases are defined, they rarely reflect the true business issues around the problem domain.”
Another challenge is being able to fully understand the core requirements, and properly translate those requirements into the right cloud solutions. “In many instances, cloud technology is brought in without a complete understanding of what problem needs to be solved, and thus the cloud solutions may not meet the needs of the business, and/or the ultimate user,” Linthicum says.
Clearly, organizations need to first work out the business-need issues and then move into the cloud.