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Cloud Computing: Article

What Will Cloud Computing Bring to Your Bottom Line?

Approaching Cloudsizing – Part 2 of 4

As you remember from Part 1 of this article series, there are 17 steps to Cloudsizing, including:

  1. Assess the business.
  2. Assess the culture.
  3. Assess the value.
  4. Understand your data.
  5. Understand your services.
  6. Understand your processes.
  7. Understand the cloud resources.
  8. Identify candidate data.
  9. Identify candidate services.
  10. Identify candidate processes.
  11. Create a governance strategy.
  12. Create a security strategy.
  13. Bind candidate services to data and processes.
  14. Relocate services, processes, and information.
  15. Implement security.
  16. Implement governance.
  17. Implement operations.

We covered the first two, so let's continue down the list.

Assess the Value
What will cloud computing bring to your bottom line? That's what we will determine in this step. In essence, this is the process of calculating the ROI for the formations of clouds around your enterprise. However, keep in mind that not all systems make sense to outsource, and you have to be honest about the real costs and the real benefits.

The first step is to determine the "as is" state of a particular application and / or business system, including the cost of operations, maintenance, design, development, testing, deployment, etc. From there you determine the "to be" state with cloud computing resources.

In addition, you need to define the value of agility and expandability, or the ability to change the information systems quickly as business needs change, and the ability to scale or expand the systems as the processing load needs to increase to support the business.

Finally, you need to consider the "network effect" or the ability for your applications to take advantage of other services, information, and applications that exist on the platform of the Internet. Make sure to document all of this, and come up with an ROI that the business can expect, or not expect. You determine the need to proceed at this point.

Understand Your Data, Services, and Processes
The next three steps - understand your data, services, and processes - are really about defining what you already have, and thus you will have a complete understanding of what to outsource. Those who just toss applications out onto cloud computing platforms without this type of deep analysis will find that it's more difficult and time-consuming at the end of this process.

Understanding the data refers to the process of defining all relevant metadata within the candidate applications, new or old, that you're looking to outsource to a cloud platform. This means where the data is now, its structure, logical model, physical model, security issues, data definitions, etc. At the end of this process you should have a populated metadata layer.

The services are actual Web services, transactions, or APIs that are externalized by the existing candidate systems. The purpose of this process is to list them, understand them in detail, document them, and link them back to the metadata we defined in the previous step. Again, we're attempting to understand existing or new services that will either be placed on a cloud computing platform or will interact with resources hosted in the clouds. Services provide a more granular way to deal with applications, since you can mix and match services that exist within the enterprise and on cloud computing resources, all bound together using processes (discussed next).

You need to define and list all business processes that exist within your domain, automated or not. This is important because, now that we know which services and information sources are available, we must define higher-level mechanisms for interaction, including all high-level, mid-level, and low-level processes. In many instances, these processes have yet to become automated or are only partially automated.

You should also consider the notion of shared versus private processes. Some processes are private and thus not shared with outside entities (or, in some cases, they are not even shared with other parts of the organization). Other processes are shared, meaning that others leverage the same processes in order to automate things inter-enterprise. Private and shared processes can exist in the same process space with the process integration technology managing security among the users.

We'll move on to the next steps, next month.

More Stories By David Linthicum

Dave Linthicum is Sr. VP at Cloud Technology Partners, and an internationally known cloud computing and SOA expert. He is a sought-after consultant, speaker, and blogger. In his career, Dave has formed or enhanced many of the ideas behind modern distributed computing including EAI, B2B Application Integration, and SOA, approaches and technologies in wide use today. In addition, he is the Editor-in-Chief of SYS-CON's Virtualization Journal.

For the last 10 years, he has focused on the technology and strategies around cloud computing, including working with several cloud computing startups. His industry experience includes tenure as CTO and CEO of several successful software and cloud computing companies, and upper-level management positions in Fortune 500 companies. In addition, he was an associate professor of computer science for eight years, and continues to lecture at major technical colleges and universities, including University of Virginia and Arizona State University. He keynotes at many leading technology conferences, and has several well-read columns and blogs. Linthicum has authored 10 books, including the ground-breaking "Enterprise Application Integration" and "B2B Application Integration." You can reach him at david@bluemountainlabs.com. Or follow him on Twitter. Or view his profile on LinkedIn.

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Most Recent Comments
bslook 12/30/08 11:27:49 AM EST

I like the methodology and think it covers all the bases but with today’s economic reality I think it will be tough to get the budget to do anything that strategic. I think there needs to be a CC lite approach that identifies so quick hits that can demonstrate value. Rarely do organizations want to spend the time or money to do thing right. That’s where having the right experienced people come into play.

The trick is thinking strategically while acting tactically to find the right quick hits without making a bad choice or making things worse.