Most organizations have faced or will be facing the challenge of deploying and using cloud services in the near future. A significant financial and operational risk is part of the equation. However, the risk can be minimized by addressing critical variables prior, during and after the project, a new study revealed by the IT Process Institute (ITPI) reveals.
According to IDC, about 37 percent of IT projects fail. According to Kurt Milne, Managing Director of the ITPI, the requirement of new skills, and a higher degree of automation is pushing this rate even higher for cloud projects. But there are ways to minimize risks: Milne investigated 143 cloud project deployments, 28 percent of which showed low rates of success, 48 percent of which revealed medium success and 24 percent of which saw high levels of success.
As it turns out, the top performers and their projects share unique characteristics that point to a guideline how avoid cloud project failure.
Indicator 1: AgilityCloud Success Indicator 1: Agility
While backup features are the most commonly deployed cloud implementations, they are not uniquely enabling the success of a project, even if the experience in such projects may be higher than in other fields. According to Milne, top performers use cloud services in categories such as self-service development and resource, as well as scale out/scale up. External first deployments came up as the strongest indicator of project success.
Indicator 2: Project Size
Similarly, the focus area of the entire project also appears to be indicative of the level of the project success. The highest performing organizations were focused on highly visible projects with C-level executive exposure, as well as a business focused objective. If you are wondering whether a small project has a higher chance of success than a much larger development, ITPI found that going big is much more beneficial to organizations as far as the success of the project is concerned. Larger projects have greater chances of attracting the resources and knowledge that is required to lead a project to success.
Indicator 3: Users Matter
Keeping the user of cloud applications at the center of the development has also been found to be a key indicator of a successful cloud deployment. While user experience failure is not the most common issue in all cloud deployments, the absence of user problems is most common among cloud deployments that are rated as successful.
According to ITPI, issues such as late deployment, backscaling, and financial are not indicative of project failure among top performers. As a result, cloud deployments should pay special attention on how to make sure that a service is tailored to the needs of its users.
The focus on the user is a permanent process that accompanies the entire project. During the design phase, users’ needs should be considered, ITPI said. Users should be included on the proof-of-concept team during the development. After the completion of the development, users should be trained and managed to be able to consume IT as a service. ITPI also recommends employing a product manager who monitors changing user requirements.
Indicator 4: FeaturesIndicator 4: Features
Top performing cloud deployment also have a common feature set, and interestingly, they are less frequently deployed than standard features such as managing user rights. According to Milne, all these features used by top performers fall into the advanced feature category, especially relating to data center knowledge.
Top performers typically plan for multiple VM platforms and multiple clouds and already have had some experience in fields such as automation, workload management and database deployment. Milne noted that organizations deploying clouds should recognize that issues such as application lifecycle management and automated provisioning will take care of themselves. In order to ensure the success of a cloud projects the key areas such as end-to-end management, VM diversity, application lifecycle, provisioning, charge-back, multi-cloud and environment awareness need to be addressed to increase the chance of success of the project.
"IT departments are racing to get in front of their users’ demand for quick, easy and low cost provisioning through cloud services," he said. "We were surprised to find that top performers don’t focus on cost reduction or operational efficiency, but on higher level concerns like agility and scalability."
Milne told us that there is no general picture of whether top performers have collected experience or have become immediately successful with their deployments. However, he noted that 27 percent of all those he surveyed have had proof-of-concept failures and that revisions are part of the deal.
ITPI has published a whitepaper that is available free of charge. The full report is available for $395.
Wolfgang GruenerWolfgang Gruener is a contributor to Tom's IT Pro. He is currently principal analyst at Ndicio Research, a market analysis firm that focuses on cloud computing and disruptive technologies, and maintains the conceivablytech.com blog. An 18-year veteran in IT journalism and market research, he previously published TG Daily and was managing editor of Tom's Hardware news, which he grew from a link collection in the early 2000s into one of the most comprehensive and trusted technology news sources.
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