IT Process Institute IDs Private Cloud Success Factors
The private cloud market is gathering momentum, with $40 billion expected to be spent on cloud services in 2012, but with IT projects averaging a 37% failure rate, getting it right the first time is not easy, according to Kurt Milne, managing director, IT Process Institute. He has just released a cloud computing study that identifies key success factors.
The study took an outcome-based approach, asking what respondents were trying to accomplish, their previous state, project friction points, and identifying who were top performers and what strongly predicts better performance in that group. “The key takeaway? These cloud projects are really business projects, and are not internally focused. Top performers do do things different from others that help them be more business oriented.”
A new IDC white paper reported that the US respondents intend to increase the number of servers in their private cloud infrastructure from 15% now to around 45% in five years time. Within two years, the survey sees the use of bare-metal servers, virtualised servers and private cloud servers at the same level, with around 33% each.
According to a Cisco-sponsored IDC report published in May, getting started with private cloud automation can be challenging, particularly for organizations that have limited experience with defining standardized templates and automated workflows. “Despite the many expected benefits, IT organizations often find the introduction of self-service private cloud automation can be highly disruptive to many existing processes and policies… (and) it can often take days or weeks, rather than minutes, to fully provision and activate requested resources due to the flurry of internal work orders, approvals, and manual handoffs that are needed to coordinate all the separate required activities.”
IT departments are racing to get in front of their users’ demand for quick, easy and low cost provisioning through cloud services, said Milne. The study found that top performers don’t focus on cost reduction or operational efficiency, but on higher level concerns like agility and scalability.
The top performers are more likely to have C-level or line-of-business executive as project sponsor. Besides strong executive support, the things driving top performance are really agility related, said Milne. “This is the opposite of what we thought about cloud computing 18 months ago, when the focus was more about cost savings and efficiency.” Today, private cloud is all about trying to achieve business outcomes, better results, not more efficiencies, he said.
The next critical success factor was about the user, user training and acceptance. Including users before, during and after deployment was a strong predictor of success.“People want to turn on an environment and get to work, not turn on a server and start installing things before they can get to work.”
While IT departments want to leverage existing on-premise data centers, the top performers were more likely to deploy a hybrid approach and start workloads externally and then bring them on premise for production. The “external first” strategy is an effective compromise between the need for business agility and the need for cloud security.
Similarly to the IDC findings, Milne reported that experience with advanced data center functions, i.e. automation and orchestration, helps. Also expect to have to refresh your IT infrastructure. “A dirty little secret… you had to upgrade.”
The bottom line, he said, was if you’re not trying to use cloud to achieve business outcomes, assume your competitors are. Milne also had some advice for the cloud vendors, including service providers. “How can you start making things easier? If you don’t make this stuff easy, it won’t be adopted.”