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Making the most of the maturing cloud marketplace

Cloud computing, through its promise of cheaper and more flexible IT, has changed both the way CIOs contract for IT services and engage with their businesses. As the cloud market matures, large enterprises are increasingly deploying cloud-based services within their organisations. However, many organisations are unsure whether they are getting maximum value from the cloud.

PA helps leaders understand their business’ individual needs to show them how, and where, cloud computing can be integrated most effectively alongside existing IT platforms to create exceptional results.

Contracting for cloud – defining a strategic sourcing approach to maximise the value of moving to cloud

There are many commercial and capability decisions to make when considering cloud services, particularly as the products are relatively new and there is little consistency in the market in terms of what is offered or how it is priced. All cloud contracts are not created equal so organisations need to understand the issues of sourcing in the cloud.

Unlike outsourcing, real cloud solutions enable almost unlimited flexibility and scale, so it is vital to understand how any minimum volume commitments are translated into term and volume discounts, and making sure you’re really only paying for what you consume. The flexibility provided by cloud is contrary to the concept of a fixed term, so agreements should be exit-able at any point with close to zero notice and without big penalties.

Some suppliers are also still on a learning curve, so make sure to select one that accepts the new commercial risks around providing cloud services rather than attempting to pass them back to the customer. For example, you must ensure the supplier does not charge for stranded infrastructure costs if services are switched off – in this new world the cloud supplier is responsible for maximising their investment by sharing infrastructure across clients effectively.

In late 2010 PA was engaged by a multinational pharmaceutical organisation to help shape some of the first enterprise-wide contracts with major cloud providers, resolving a myriad of commercial, legal and regulatory constraints to define the basis of a worldwide transition to cloud service

Operating in the cloud – creating the right business and enterprise architecture for your organisation in a cloud environment and migrating to it

Not all cloud services are suitable for every organisation. Each business has its own set of constraints, such as legal and regulatory restrictions, that must be considered in conjunction with the desired business outcomes to shape the best approach to working with the cloud. Integrated ‘ecosystems’ of cloud services help organisations deploy the best and lowest cost tool for each purpose, but require careful business and technical integration to be effective.

Getting migration right for cloud services is key, with strong business relationships and an eye for detail being prerequisites to ensure a smooth transition, particularly where new technologies and suppliers are involved. Organisations need also to define operating models to-be that enable business and IT to maximise the value of adopting cloud services and implement robust governance mechanisms that provide appropriate protections in the new cloud environment.

PA supported a large insurer in evaluating their use of development and test services in the cloud to improve business responsiveness. We also worked with a major international provider to define their strategy for extending internal IT services into a public cloud offering.

Organisations also need to understand the data security issues they face and how to deal with them.

Innovating with the cloud

Enterprises of all sizes are increasingly taking advantage of the power of established cloud platforms to create and roll out innovative new capabilities rapidly and at very low cost. The low entry barriers and inherent scalability of pilot solutions to meet worldwide demand almost instantly means that innovation is fast becoming “business as usual” for any organisation that needs to engage better with its customers.

For example PA worked with the Met office to build the Weather Observations Website (WOW), the first government app in the world to appear on the Google AppEngine cloud platform. It has enabled weather enthusiasts in over 150 countries worldwide to share more than 40 million readings online. WOW provides the Met Office with extensive and valuable data for improving forecast accuracy and has created lasting impact by helping the organisation maintain its position as the world’s pre-eminent weather forecaster, improving its services to government, industry and the public.

For more information on how PA can help you help you unlock the potential of cloud computing, please contact us now.

Anita Chandraker
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