Like most new technologies, cloud computing can bring significant changes to business processes, application architectures, technology infrastructure, and operating models, and all must be properly understood.
Having a well thought-out strategy can mean the difference between success and failure, so the first step in understanding the challenges cloud computing can incur is by taking the readiness assessment.
The purpose of the readiness assessment is for customers to determine (a) the scope of what needs to be done to ensure a successful transition (b) whether they can take a "do it yourself" approach or need/want a fully managed application service.
Prior to any cloud or hosting engagement, cloud service providers should have a team of personnel scope the project from the outset. Normally the team will include an engagement manager, representatives from sales, solutions architects, an executive sponsor and representatives from product management and service delivery.
Product management and operations help ensure the cloud service is supportable and sustainable over the long term, however the entire team will help to determine the need for any special SLA (Service Level Agreement) requirements or compliance issues during the sales process.
For those service providers taking this approach, each team will remain involved throughout the entire project to ensure the implementation is set up correctly, that it is secure and compliant, and that the client gets what they need, when they need it.
The integral components to the readiness assessment are:
Technical analysis: IT infrastructure and applications are reviewed to identify services best suited to the cloud. The assessment covers key scalability and architectural issues, including modular design; server and application processes; and database transactions and I/O. Critical application interfaces such as Web services also need to be assessed to determine the optimal cloud migration path.
Economic analysis: 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 GLBA.
(Ed: you can also read the previous article in this series, Simplifying Cloud Deployment: Questions you need to ask).