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Cloud Expo: Article

Partnering for Cloud Onboarding Success

The key to a successful, secure and compliant implementation is a high touch engagement process

Enterprise organizations are looking for service providers to be a trusted partner with them throughout the entire transition through steady state process. The key for cloud providers is to develop ongoing relationships with their customers using hands-on engagement processes from beginning to end. A high touch process ensures that customers engage with various members of the transition team throughout the three stages of the on-boarding process: Business and Technology Assessment, Transition Plan, and Business Reviews.

Business and Technology Assessment
Like most new technologies, cloud computing can require significant changes in business processes, application architectures, technology infrastructure, and operating models that must be properly understood before embarking on any new initiative. Having a well-thought-out strategy can mean the difference between success and failure. The first step to understanding these challenges is the assessment.

The purpose of the business and technology assessment is for customers to conduct a high-level evaluation of the environment, taking into consideration the complexities and nuances of the client's business environment and provide a clear road map of the scope of the project. Once the scope has been determined, the client is able to assess whether they want to take a "do it yourself" approach or select a partner to assist with the transition.

Prior to any cloud or hosting engagement, cloud service providers will have a group of highly trained personnel on the team to scope the project and assess the readiness of the organization. The technical team, which includes an engagement manager, representatives from sales, architecture, understands that each potential customer is unique in their needs and will approach the cloud from a variety of perspectives. The extended business team includes an executive sponsor, representatives from product management, and operations. Product management and operations help with ensuring the cloud service is supportable and sustainable over the long term but the entire team helps to work through any special requirements or compliance issues during the sales process.

As part of a this approach, each of these team members remains involved throughout the entire client lifecycle to ensure the transition is set up correctly, that it is secure and compliant, and the client gets what they need, when they need it.

The complete assessment includes a technical analysis, an economic analysis and a business and application analysis.

  • Technical Analysis: Existing infrastructure and applications are reviewed to identify the services best suited for the cloud. The assessment covers key scalability and architectural issues, including server and application processes, and database transactions and scalability. Critical application interfaces also need to be assessed to determine the optimal cloud migration path.
  • Business Analysis: Business and economic considerations play a major role in the decision to migrate to the cloud. Customers need to build comprehensive ROI and TCO models that provide economic justification for cloud migration.
  • Business and Application Analysis: This analysis determines whether customers need to re-engineer business processes to leverage the cloud and whether their application needs to comply with specific regulations such as PCI, HIPAA, and SOX.

The Transition Plan
Once a potential cloud customer's level of business and technology readiness is understood, a plan is developed that includes the details of on-boarding and steady state management. The plan is essentially a roadmap that defines what the client can expect and when it will be delivered. It includes a detailed custom network design, any type of phased in implementation, escalation procedures, security and compliance considerations, SLA options, training, reporting, a timeline as well as when and how the team will get the environment in a steady state once the transition is complete.

The transition plan focuses on the impact of the customer, which includes the processes, policies and adjustments needed to move them from their current state to a new state. Some examples included in the plan are Service Transition, Change Management, Service Asset and Configuration Management, Release and Deployment Management, Service Validation and Testing, Evaluation, and Knowledge Management.

This is where choosing the right partner can really make a difference. The best partners will have the following capabilities:

  • Tried and true migration methodology
  • Experience in migrating infrastructure and applications to a cloud delivery mode
  • Can specifically address a range of requirements including physical to virtual migrations project management and on-boarding
  • The ability to implement a hybrid cloud model if customers want to migrate some, but not all, of their IT infrastructure and services to the cloud
  • The ability to customize services to meet the need of the enterprise

This plan will also include the change of technologies, processes and policies to transform the organization. It utilizes technology to spearhead the vision, resolve, business case governance, accountability, workable approach and execution model, capacity planning and the ability to implement and operate.

The engagement manager and the implementation manager play critical roles during this phase. The dedicated engagement manager works directly with the client and harnesses the service provider's internal resources as issues arise while the implementation manager manages the day-to-day operational implementation. The client has multiple points of contact beyond the engagement manager including any of the team members such as the account manager, solution architects, sales, executive sponsor, or operations from the business and technology assessment.

Daily, weekly and monthly updates are provided on the progress of the migration.

At the conclusion of this phase, approximately 98% of the project is complete. It is over the next several months where operations fine-tune the remaining 2% of the project.

Business Reviews
With a cloud platform, monthly charges are based on actual compute resources used; therefore it's critical that cloud-enabled applications run efficiently. Periodic performance tuning and load testing are necessary to optimize applications in the cloud.

Reporting to the engagement manager, the delivery manager and his or her team prepare a weekly report that identifies operating trends and specific incidents. The team will review these issues on a weekly call with the customer and develop additional operating procedures in response to the trends and incidents.

For example, a customer's service on a server goes down on Wednesday at 4:00am. The immediate problem is handled by the incident management process. Through the post-mortem process trend analysis, the service delivery team notices that it has happened every Wednesday at 4:00am for the past several weeks. This is when the team may develop additional standard operating procedures that mitigate the risk of the service going down regularly.

On a monthly basis, the delivery team will take a more holistic approach. They will be able to look at the usage patterns and determine how best to utilize the current resources using a number of parameters including consolidating under-utilized resources, and optimize based on time of day usage, on seasonal demand, and on business process usage variations.

Quarterly, the teams meet and look at the initiatives for the upcoming next quarter as well as revisit the business plan. At this time the teams determine the ongoing readiness to scale and support the upcoming initiatives.

Enterprises need to select a vendor that will partner with them through the entire on-boarding process. The key to a successful, secure and compliant implementation is a high touch engagement process from beginning to end.

More Stories By Gina Murphy

As Executive Vice President, Gina Murphy is responsible for all of TriCore’s Solutions, Service Strategy and Sales Enablement. This includes Product Management, Account Management and supporting Sales and Operations with strategic guidance from the customer’s perspective to take TriCore’s products and services to the next level. Sitting between the technical resources and the sales team, her goal is to empower these teams to demonstrate TriCore’s value proposition to its customers as it relates to their unique circumstances.

Prior to joining TriCore, as the Vice President of Solution Architects at NaviSite, Gina managed a global team responsible for providing technical sales engineering solutions to ensure enterprise customers obtain the highest quality of complex and supportable solutions, on time and within budget. She also held management positions in information technology, business management systems, technical training, and operations with Surebridge, TVGuide and Lightbridge.

She holds a Bachelor of Art in Communication from Stonehill College.

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