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How do private cloud projects succeed?
Lately, there seems to be a bit of discussion in the blogosphere around private cloud projects failing. Although, there is rarely a clear definition of “failure” in these discussions, I did want to offer an alternate perspective – How do private cloud projects succeed?
Much of the discussion seems to be architecture and/or technology focused. No doubt, having the right architecture and making smart technology decisions are critical to sustainability of your private cloud project. But, I believe, like many IT projects, we’ve seen that the key to success starts not with the technology, but with the people—focused on the motivations and needs of the proposed consumers of the cloud service. Remember, above all else, cloud is a consumption model for IT services. No matter how well it performs or how well it scales, or how long it stays up without a crash – if it doesn’t meet the needs of the service consumer, it is dead on arrival. I have seen so many clients’ private cloud projects start as a tools selection/implementation, focused on capabilities first, and needs second — as an afterthought. I’m not sure that’s the best path to success.
I’m suggesting that the cloud initiative that starts with alignment with the needs of the proposed consumers is the one that is destined for success.
So, what does this mean and what do we do about it? Two ideas:
One – When you’re working with your customer to envision or design their cloud initiative, help them keep their thinking grounded in aligning with the needs of the proposed consumer(s) of the service(s).
At IBM we have a proven approach for creating alignment of business capability with the needs and motivations of the consumer. The basic premise is simple – put the consumer at the center of your market, sell, support and supply capabilities and build your strategy around the consumer experience across the complete life cycle of their interactions with you – from discovery, to shopping, to buying, to consuming, and finally to advocating on your behalf. For me, it’s the same thing as a consumer of services in your cloud (private, public, or otherwise). My suggestion – When your customer starts their cloud project, ask why, and I perhaps more importantly, for whom. And, what’s their why? What’s their motivation? Let’s raise the bar. Don’t settle for a list of capabilities. Push for a list of motivations and desired outcomes. For cloud solution delivery specialists, the Cloud Computing Reference Architecture (CCRA) has a module for this aspect of the Cloud design (see below). My point is, spend the time to get the consumer part of it right.
Two – why is it Public or Private? Why are we even comparing the two at all? With the advances in hybrid cloud technologies, why not have your cake and eat it, too. Public and Private – HYBRID.
I’m suggesting that the best approach is to not pit private against public, but rather combine private and public into an effective hybrid IT environment to give the consumers of the services access to a complete portfolio of services to meet their needs. I see so many folks start their cloud initiative as private, but then focus on technology capabilities and measurement against public cloud capabilities. I would recommend to first focus on the specific use cases and motivations of their consumers and build to their needs, pulling services from internal AND external sources based on the required functionality and QOS characteristics that best meet the consumers’ requirements. .
From my vantage point, the distinction between public and private is blurring, and this is an area where IBM is truly one of the leaders in the market. Our enterprise customers are looking to us for guidance. With Cloud Orchestrator, SoftLayer, Urban Code, PureApp, CloudBuilder Professional Services, and the new Hybrid Integration features of Bluemix, we can handle pretty much any use case, and new capabilities arrive almost every day. Hybrid is the new paradigm.
So, as I read blogs about Cloud failure, I can’t help but want to respond. I firmly believe we can help our enterprise clients grow by leveraging the strengths of cloud. I believe when you put the motivations of the service consumer first, and consider the capabilities possible with hybrid cloud, then we and our clients are on the road to success.
For more info what IBM is doing with Cloud, click here to read the IBM SmartCloud: Building a Cloud Enabled Data Center white paper. And don’t forget to let me know what you think by using the comments feature below.
Derek Catlin is a Cloud Advisor for all things IBM Cloud within the IBM Cloud Business Unit. He has 31 years of experience in information technology, all with IBM, supporting customers and engagements in General Business and Public Sector. Derek, will be presenting at the upcoming Midsize Enterprise Summit – Spring 2015