I was at a roundtable earlier this week discussing the findings of one enterprise cloud research. The findings are embargoed until June 24, but what struck me the most was the numbers around failed or stalled cloud projects.
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And that led me to discuss it more with industry insiders. Here are a few reasons why cloud projects might fail:
- Using cloud services but not using them to address business needs
One joke doing rounds in the industry goes a bit like this – The IT head tells his team, “You lot start coding, I’ll go out and ask them what they want”.
But the issue of not aligning business objectives with IT is still prevalent. The latest study by Vanson Bourne found that as many as 80% of UK CIOs admit to significant gaps between what the business wants and when the IT can deliver it. While the average gap cited was five months, it ranged between seven to 18 months.
- Moving cloud to production without going through the SLAs again and again. And again
If one looks at the contracts of major cloud providers, it becomes apparent that the risk, is almost always pushed out on to the user and not on the provider – be it around downtime, latency, availability, and data regulations. It is one thing to test cloud services and quite another to put it out on actual production.
- Hasty adoption
Moving cloud to production hastily without testing and piloting the technology enough and without planning management strategies will also lead to failure or disappointment with cloud services.
- Badly written apps
If your app isn’t configured correctly, it shouldn’t be on the cloud. Just migrating badly written apps on to the cloud will not make them work. And if you are not a marque customer, your cloud provider will not help you with it either.
- Being obsessed with cost savings on the cloud
One expert says – those who adopt cloud for cost savings fail; those who use it to do things they couldn’t do in-house succeed. Cost-savings on the cloud comes over time as businesses get the hang of capacity management and scalability but the primary reason for cloud adoption should be to grow the business and enable newer revenue-generating opportunities. For example, News UK adopted cloud services with an aim to transform its IT and manage its paywall strategy. Its savings were a byproduct.
- Early adoption of cloud services… Or leaving it too late
Ironic as it may sound, if you are one of the earliest adopters of cloud, chances are that your cloud might be the earliest iteration and may not be as rich in features as the newer versions. It may even be more complex than current cloud services. For instance, there is a lot of technical difference between pre-OpenStack Rackspace cloud and its OpenStack version.
If you’ve left it too late, then your competitors are ahead of the curve and the other business stakeholders influence IT’s cloud buying decisions.
- Biased towards one type of cloud
Hybrid IT is the way forward. Being too obsessed with private cloud services will lead to deeper vendor lock-in and adopting too much public cloud will lead to compliance and security issues. Enterprises must not develop a private cloud or a public cloud strategy but use cloud elements that best solves their problems. Take Betfair for instance, it uses a range of different cloud services. It uses AWS Redshift warehouse service for data analytics but uses VMware vCloud for automation and orchestration.
- Relying heavily on reference architecture
Cloud services are meant to be unique to suit individual business needs. Replicating another organisation’s cloud strategies and infrastructure is likely to be less helpful.
- Lack of skills and siloed approach
Cloud may indeed have entered mainstream computing but the success of cloud directly depends on the skills and experience of the team deploying it. Hiring engineers and cloud architects with experience on AWS to build private cloud may backfire. Experts have also called on enterprises to embrace DevOps and cut down the siloed approach to succeed in cloud. British Gas hired IT staff with the right skills for its Hive project built on the public cloud.
- Viewing it as in-house datacentre infrastructure or traditional IT
Cloud calls for new ways of IT thinking. Just replacing internal infrastructure with cloud services but using the same IT strategies and policies to govern the cloud might result in cloud failure.
There may be other enterprise-related problems such as lack of budget or cultural challenges or legacy IT that may result in failed or stalled cloud project, but more often it is the strategy (or the lack of it) to blame than the technologies.