Getting The Right Confidence With “Go Cloud” Strategy

vittal

From the cloudiness that has, for quite some time now, surrounded the “whether to go on Cloud or not?” dilemma, more than a handful of Indian businesses have embraced the cloud as the way to go and also reaped significant rewards.

Besides the general visibility of optimism on more Indian businesses taking to the cloud, several surveys too point to optimistic trends around adoption of cloud by Indian enterprises in 2014. Gartner predicts at least two-thirds of Indian CIOs expect the majority of their information technologies to run in the cloud by 2015 with Indian spend on cloud services expected to touch $3.9 billion by 2107.

Skepticism on the Cloud

Despite high optimism on the cloud, there is yet significant skepticism surrounding the confidence in migrating mission-critical applications onto the cloud. If one were to carefully look at the underlying reasons for such lack of confidence in the board rooms and audit committees with decisions on going to the cloud, the primary causative factors arises from the adhocness underlying the run up to the decision of going cloud and lack of clarity on how risks would be managed. Such concerns are rooted in several questions that relate to operationalizing, security and risks in going to the cloud that various stakeholders within these businesses find yet unanswered affirmatively.

Investments in emerging IT such as the cloud, in majority of the Indian enterprises are characterized by either impulse decisions driven by cost savings, not well thought out unstructured approaches or “wait and watch” approach arising from the often unfounded skepticism that surrounds adoption of cloud.

With more complexities and challenges that surround the operating environment that Indian enterprises are faced with, what is required is clarity on business drivers as regards risk balanced benefits, operational effectiveness in adopting technology and not merely adopting the cloud for the apparent benefits. This starts with clarity on how the cloud offerings would benefit in supporting the business goals and strategies specific to your organisation and move on explore if the cloud holds the potential in enabling and extending the organisation’sbusiness strategies.  COBIT 5 from ISACA/ITGI is a business framework for enterprise IT, which provides much needed guidance to every organisation on their need for structured approach to business aligned technology decisions, such as decisions and strategy on going cloud, which will deliver to the goals.

Drawing up a structured approach

Thus, cloud adoption, to start with, requires clarity and business conviction at the board and director levels. ISACA/ITGI’s document on Cloud Governance: Questions Board of Directors need to ask, provides the much needed guidance for clarity on cloud in the board rooms. To achieve the benefits of cloud computing, adoption drivers must be aligned with enterprise goals and objectives, and business and cultural factors must be favorable for adoption. Like any investment, cloud projects should be guided by the board of directors to ensure value creation and optimization of risk.

Once there is conviction at the board rooms on adoption of cloud, there is need for a systematic readiness assessment that can help management identify the operational dependencies, additional costs/investment and risks that need to factored into the strategy. Cloud failures often results from unstructured, inconsistent approaches. 

Of course, no technology is without risks, and cloud for one does have its fair share of risks, but the trick is the see how much cloud and how to manage the risks around what is put on the cloud. Amongst the several risks include issues surrounding service provider continuity, contracting and SLAs, data protection, regulatory compliance, audit and assurances etc.

In ensuring that the organization’s cloud strategy will deliver the promised value in the long run, what is required is a governance based approach that aligns the management and operational requirements underlying cloud operations with the enterprise cloud strategy. Amongst others, the factors that would need particular attention include policies and procedures that guide the adoption, management and effective use of the cloud offerings, processesthat may need tweaking to encompass the cloud operations related activities, organization structures that may need modification to IT operational and support roles, changes in culture and behavior arising from factors specific to day-to-day use of cloud services, required upgradation/modification in skills and competencies to manage, operate and use cloud services.

In other words, the need of the hour is with inhouse or consultant expertise, organizations must draw up a structured approach to adoption of cloud computing and achieving the benefits.