Effective Cloud Management
Cloud computing continues to be a major breakthrough in the field of information technology and in the way organizations design and deliver the business services. Companies that are considering cloud technologies along with enhancing their reliance on outsourcing, are rising beyond the organizational and technological constraints and as a result of this, significant new business opportunities are generated.
However, in case of the internal IT function, the cloud indicates new challenges. For almost two decades, the IT field has witnessed a revolution and it has transformed from being a back-office technical function to a service oriented and crucial business resource. This service orientation needs different skill sets across all levels of the IT organization. It is important to have efficient management skills especially in the case of leveraging the cloud capabilities. A research was conducted that shows many CIOs and IT professionals lack the complete knowledge and experience for taking the right decision to move towards cloud computing. In practical terms, it is found that this knowledge gap is the main reason for the organizational delays in terms of moving to the cloud.
Four important capabilities come up for effective cloud management:
- Governance, comprising of leadership, organization and co-ordination
- Business and function vision
- Architecture planning and design
- Delivery of services
In each of these four dimensions the sub-capabilities are also equally important, they are explained below:
The main leadership task of cloud management is to plan the organizational arrangements and engage in them – these include structures, processes and staffing. Unlike the virtual hosting server, these functions are responsible in successfully managing the internal and business interdependencies delivered by the technology functions; this delivers business value for money. Another research done into innovation has found that the role of a ‘business innovator’ for the in-house functions is the key to transferring any external sourcing agenda in the direction of innovation for the business that is eventually done with the suppliers needed for realizing the complete business potential of the cloud.
Business And Function Vision
Cloud management requires a high amount of business-facing skills. One such skill is called ‘business systems thinking’. The business system thinkers greatly focus on aligning the aspects like structure, strategy, processes, people and technology. The business system thinkers have to be deployed on the cloud projects where they can act as a connection between business demands and technical architects.
Another important function is relationship building that facilitates a wider concept and creates understanding, trust and co-operation among the business users and the cloud specialists. The relationship builders help in creating the user understanding of the technology and cloud and the capacity that cloud technology has for business.
Architecture Planning And Redesign
In terms of cloud, the architect capability is a critical aspect. The cloud architect has to be comfortable with the SOA (service oriented architecture) because most of the clouds utilize a service approach for delivery. Functioning in the overlap between the challenges of IT architecture design and the delivery of IT services is the integral capability of making the IT process work, technology fixes are required to address the problems and identify how to cater to the business needs that cannot be properly satisfied with the standard technical approaches.
Delivery Of Services
The fourth competency incorporates the capabilities required for ensuring the external supply. They include the following aspects:
Informed Buying : In an organization that intends to outsource a major part of its technology services, it is important to have informed buying capabilities as they are crucial for gaining success. Informed buyers analyze and benchmark the external market on a regular basis for IT and cloud services. It is important to establish 5 – 10 years sourcing strategy in order to meet the business needs and address the technology issues.
Contract Facilitation : This capability is important for establishing a smooth relationship between suppliers and the business users. This is done by ensuring that issues and conflicts are taken care of within time.
Contract Monitoring : This includes creating inputs for the development and maintenance of a powerful contract for creating the base of a sound governance framework. The role is then extended to holding suppliers accountable for the existing service contracts and developing performance standards of the services in the market.
Vendor Development : This capability comprises of leveraging the long-term potential for the suppliers for adding value and creating “win-win” situations. In these situations, the revenues of the suppliers are increased as a result of providing services that drive greater business benefits.
Addressing The Challenges Of Cloud Management
There are two major challenges in creating these cloud management capabilities. First is the recruitment and retention of the small, highly skilled group required for managing the cloud efficiently. The second is evolving these management skills for supporting the increase in cloud deployment and external sourcing over time. Once technical reliability is established, the function must become more business oriented and be in a better position to source externally. This makes the relationship building process and business systems thinking capabilities extremely important. Moreover, scaling up on the external cloud-sourcing will require increased investments in the form of buying, monitoring the contract and analyzing the vendor development capabilities.
Irrespective of the emerging pattern of take-up and speed of cloud computing, it is evident that technology continues to be a challenge for organizations and a significant opportunity as well. Determining the success of cloud management requires a huge amount of effort. One contradiction is that people are often blinded by the challenges of technology and they do not realize the real functions of the technology.
The cloud provides with a way to the future. As the technology gets moved out of the way into the cloud, the technology functions can be concentrated on the the real job that is to exploit the capability that IT makes available for business. Initially, this will comprise service, good information management, business analytics, business innovation that is IT-enabled and digital business. Organizations must make sure they have the management capabilities in place to get the complete value from the cloud architecture.