Cloud computing is a competitive lever, a business accelerator and a cost optimization axis. However, it is essential to be accompanied while getting your information system on the cloud for the following reasons:
Roles and responsibilities
Cloud computing disrupts roles between the CIO and its suppliers and between the CIO and its employees. What was once hosted internally will be now hosted externally - at least for the part which is not strategic.
Cloud computing creates space savings (infrastructure and delocalised servers), time savings (carried over the supplier) and room for money saving. It eliminates internally some maintenance and backup details and redistributes the roles and responsibilities.
The CIO becomes a true change enabler and a coordinator at the heart of social restructuring internally within IT but also in its relations with the business lines
What kind of cloud ?
Do you want a public, a private or a mixed cloud ? with share services or dedicated specialised services ?
The possibilities of cloud computing are huge. You must therefore make its objectives clear and know the reason why you should host part or whole of the IT systems on the cloud, so you do not get lost in a major project.
Knowing that almost all scenarios are possible, you should, in general, host the part of the IS for which the organization has no value to keep it in-house. Hosting can be dedicated to the organization or shared with other companies, depending on whether one favors the expertise and privacy or mass pricing.
As with any outsourcing project , service level criteria should be well defined, especially sizing constraints, bandwidth, availability, large-scale deployment and backup. At this level, you have to compare the performance of a provider to another, taking into account the associated pricing. It is also necessary to inquire into the recovery means in case of failure and ask the question of redundancy link.
Security and privacy
If business continuity is one of the main criteria that drive the move towards the cloud, you should however investigate data security and access control to servers and applications. The use of a certificied provided or the requirement for an external audit of the provider is strongly advised.
As for the confidentiality of data hosted, some players offer files segmentation and distribute data storage among multiple external cloud computing providers to spread risk. The data packets and storage are encrypted. With this type of solution, it thus provides both data backup and confidentiality, through segmentation.
Caution with American providers, even if your data resides in Canada. The Patriot Act has recently forced Microsoft to provide access to the US government for all hosted data , including those residing outside the United States. Selecting a Canadian outsourcer or why not - a European one - since Europe has stricter laws on protection of personal data - can be a better legal option.
By structure, cloud computing solutions and costs tend to be opaque. Cost savings are certainly possible , provided they have been calmly studied previously , in collaboration with the Head of Finance. There are real cost reduction opportunities, but be careful to restructuring costs and hidden costs.
The fees , which can be fixed or by usage , generally provide the opportunity to transform assets ( purchased equipment) as operating expenses through leasing. The possible impact of the use of cloud computing on tax credits should also be studied as well as the reclassification of personnel costs and renegotiation with suppliers.
It is essential to know where the data resides and where the supplier's head office is located to determine the applicable jurisdiction. Depending on the province or the country in which the data resides, regulations may be very different, especially in the framework of obligations or not to have to encrypt the data, and having or not to give data access to a government (including a foreign government ).
Knowing the distribution of roles between the provider and the data owner is also important, particularly in terms of maintenance of information, integrity guarantee and the right to oblivion. Be accompanied by a Lawyer specialised in IT regulations, is important at this level.
Key succes factors
Au final, comme tout projet majeur, une migration vers l’infonuagique doit faire l’objet d’un avant-projet poussé, avec une définition de critères de sélection des fournisseurs et de critères de succès.
In the end, like any major project , a migration to cloud computing should cautiously prepared. Providers selection criteria should be defined as well as key success factors.
This is a project that should be carried out in close collaboration with the business units such as Finance , Procurement and Human Resources, and which requires to start with a pilot project.
Finally, as with any project, a reversibility clause of services should be included in the contract and its impact measured internally.