As Published In
Oracle Magazine
September/October 2012

AT ORACLE: In the Field


Success in the Clouds

By Mark C. Clark

 

Here are some cloud tips from experienced IT pilots.

Many organizations are already using or moving rapidly to the cloud to simplify and redefine the way they implement and maintain business systems.

In fact, a majority of respondents to a recent Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) member survey on cloud deployment strategies report that their organizations already have from one to five years of experience with cloud implementations.1

Given that so many additional respondents have upcoming cloud efforts on their radar, I reached out to several influential OAUG members to solicit advice and insight to share with those considering cloud deployments.

Understand and Communicate Business and Personal Benefits

To many of the OAUG members surveyed, strong and clear communication can make the difference between a successful deployment and an unsuccessful one. It’s vital to prepare stakeholders to understand and embrace the organizations’ long-term goals for cloud adoption as well as the personal payoffs. Based on OAUG member responses, here are some critical cloud goals and payoffs: Cloud-based deployments can free internal resources to focus on key competencies that support the business’ strategic, high-value objectives.

The organization and its employees have access to a wide range of services through the cloud that may not be available in traditional data center systems.

  • The cloud may provide access to IT and business talent that is not available locally, allowing the business to leverage specialized expertise.

  • The business gains the ability to stay current on applications, utilizing the newest features and functions that create additional efficiency, comply with new statutory requirements, and maintain the highest levels of support. 

Select the Right Cloud Partners

For many OAUG members, choosing the right partner to support and manage your cloud systems is essential. The search for the proper partner should be treated with the same level of effort that would go into a key executive hire or even the due diligence of a merger or acquisition. While cost savings, speed, scalability, security, and certifications should be absolute minimums, other factors make some providers stand out as a better choice for your organization. OAUG members suggest that you consider how effectively the potential partner will provide

  • Overall responsiveness and the ability to personalize key services

  • A single point of contact to advocate on behalf of your organization, address issues, and provide ultimate accountability

  • A stable, long-term staff, including a dedicated team that understands mission-critical processes and key time frames such as peak season and open enrollments, and that provides the same or better level of support than what was provided internally

  • The willingness and ability to go beyond just keeping the system running, including speed in producing a clone, active involvement in upgrade efforts, the ability to handle change requests, and even crisis management

  • Experience and competence in handling more-project-oriented work such as a merger, a new module implementation, or even upgrades to major releases

  • Financial or other compensation for not meeting service-level agreements (SLAs)

File a Proper Flight Plan

As we all know, going into a major project with a well-thought-out plan greatly improves the odds for successful implementation and adoption. As you map out your cloud project, I recommend adding these checklist items to your cloud implementation plan:

Next Steps


 READ the survey or view the Webcast

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  • Be transparent and make sure that stakeholders in your organization understand pricing models, SLAs, and what types of activities or situations may increase monthly or annual fees.

  • Dedicate internal personnel as liaisons with your cloud provider. Even with the best partners, your organization can’t abdicate responsibility for the systems and the processes they support.

  • Establish conservative expectations and timelines with executives and other key personnel regarding the schedule of cost savings and whether additional expenditures may occur during the transition to the cloud.

  • Understand the challenges of adding off-premises cloud solutions into an environment where all systems had been in your own on-premises data center. Determine the impact on policies, procedures, remote access, support for mobile devices, data integration, master data management, reporting, and analytics.

The availability of cloud-based systems presents IT and business leaders with options, alternatives, and opportunities that only recently came into being. Midsize companies now have access to services, architectures, and other technologies that were formerly reserved for large organizations or early adopters. Consider the advice shared by OAUG thought leaders as you embark on your own cloud journey.   

1 Cloud at the Crossroads, 2012 OAUG Survey on Application Delivery Strategies, sponsored by Oracle and produced by Unisphere Research (March 2012)

Mark Clark Headshot

Mark C. Clark
is president of OAUG and has been an active member since 1992. Clark is a senior partner at O2Works LLC.

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