Every industry and company has adopted cloud in some format. Cloud adoption is going to go up from here due to ease of procurement, anywhere accessibility, and improved productivity. As per the survey from RightScale 95% of businesses already have cloud footprint. Other reasons for the growth of cloud products are that they are more user friendly, have shorter update cycles, and get hassle free updates. Hence, software product companies are focusing to bring mature applications on the cloud.
Key drivers for the adoption of cloud applications are business need, friendly payment plans to start with, best return on investment (ROI) right from day one, and zero or low IT expenses in owning cloud applications. Other aspects to consider cloud applications are modern look and feel, ease to customize as per requirement, and high availability. All these benefits give more time and focus on the actual business.
Structured analysis of cloud applications is extremely important before making purchase decision. Some of the points which should be considered during the evaluation process are:
1. API Management—Does the cloud application provide application programming interface (API)? More is better.
2. Flexibility & Scalability—Ability to ramp up or ramp down quickly with lowest investment.
3. Service Level Agreement (SLA), Reliability, and Performance.
4. Integration—Data silos created by cloud applications should be handled.
5. Security—Able to connect to application securely.
6. Cost—Hidden costs and others.
7. Exit Strategy—Should not be locked in.
8. Support—To be fit as per business need and community support.
Rapid adoption of cloud imposes challenges to understanding the architecture of application, integrating with other applications—both on-premise and other SaaS applications, security, building and aligning the business processes towards business and IT goals of the organizations, keeping pace with changes in cloud applications, etc.
Primitive or Overlooked Criteria is integration of all. It is unrealistic to validate the integration at the very beginning. Even the business may not know all integration requirements at the kick off. Integration does not merely mean providing the connectivity between applications; but uniting them in a way that helps business processes produce the common goal with greater efficiency. This should further help to reduce the overall total cost of ownership (TCO) which was the original reason for adopting cloud application.
Facts show that organizations invest more to find solutions for integration related problems.
It is strongly recommended to take advice from an expert before adoption of cloud applications. And the key here is to choose the expert cautiously. Choose one who understands the challenges one may face, and has working experience on key cloud constituents. Here are some important aspects to consider. The expert/vendor:
1. Should understand Private, Public, and Hybrid cloud and segregate them and present the best model suited for the organization.
2. Should have excellent working experience on APIs, SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.
3. Should have working experience in resolving issues related to integration (real-time, batch, and bulk) and data duplications between cloud to cloud applications and cloud to on-premise applications.
4. Should have the domain expertise to understand the business requirements and establish the expected business processes to get the maximum ROI.
5. Should be able to propose and work both on short term and long term strategies to align IT with business objectives.
6. Should have working experience of API management.
7. Should be able to make informed decisions based on the current requirements and experiences; not based on intuitions or assumptions.
8. And MOST importantly, should be committed to execution.