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Updated by Charles Bystock on 03/27/2014

cloud computing service providersExecutives responsible for managing both government entities and large global private enterprises continue to look for ways virtualization can help cut IT operating costs, increase efficiencies and eliminate wasteful redundancy throughout their operations. They know they can accomplish much of that by partnering with cloud computing service providers. But change has to come in an orderly manner.

That requires prioritizing your IT infrastructure needs, so that “orderly” goes hand-in-hand with “effective.” Incremental adoption makes the most sense, both practically and financially. Moving to the cloud can bring significant savings, but it’s still an investment. Choosing the right applications to migrate and the right cloud computing service providers will assure the strongest return.

Where will change do the most good?

Most companies give extra weight to customer-facing improvements, because pleasing and impressing increasingly picky customers is the best way to grow your business. Employees are customers, too, and these days retaining the best and brightest on your internal team requires catering to their desires for electronic mobility and device-of-choice.

Assessing and prioritizing applications to migrate to the cloud should consider:

  • Specific infrastructure traits can affect the performance of applications.
  • Overall business goals, and ability to support achievement of near-term implementation strategies.
  • Possible transition or post-deployment problems – you want to be prepared, but also consider whether problem areas should receive lower priority, to give you time to prepare or make corrections.
  • Your organization’s most troublesome inefficiencies or gaps in service delivery or quality that a cloud application could improve.
  • Business management or production problems that could be solved or streamlined with cloud applications.
  • Resource allocation – not just financial, but human and physical assets, too.
  • Security -- Gartner predicts cloud computing service providers will become pivotal for prioritizing security in the next few years and that the federal government will soon develop national infrastructure regulations with which public clouds will have to comply.
  • Other government or industry-specific compliance issues.
  • Disaster recovery planning and execution.

Assembling this information in a matrix will make prioritization easier.

Evaluate the risks.

What could happen if you don’t adopt cloud-based IT infrastructure solutions? There are potential business risks as well as design and development risks associated with migration, and they can affect prioritization. A professional IT sourcing consultant can help you strategically assess your situation, so your priorities are based on complete, accurate data and marketplace understanding.

Establish success metrics.

Priorities have a way of changing. Choosing incremental transition to the cloud enables you to assess as you go. Measuring progress of early implementation efforts will help you strengthen later transitions, and what you learn along the way – or changing business conditions -- could cause you to reorder your priorities.

Harness the versatility of cloud computing service providers.

One of the prevalent trends in IT transformation is hybridization. As the marketplace expands and becomes more sophisticated, it’s only natural for enterprises to look for the specific provider characteristics or niche services that support company-specific tailoring.

But hybridization offers more than simply combining a particular selection of cloud-based services. Because providers have different capabilities or specialties, hybrid systems often work best when multiple providers come into play. Engaging multiple providers could enable your company to tackle multiple implementation priorities at once, too, assuming budgetary considerations can be met.

A multi-pronged approach might allow you to transition more functions or services to the cloud in less time. In turn, that faster transformation could help save even more money and speed completion of new product development or other important business initiatives, boosting your bottom line and your company’s competitive position.

Cloud computing service providers can deliver functionality and resources you can’t generate yourself. But change merely for the sake of doing something different is a wasted effort. If switching to cloud computing service providers won’t save money or assure greater efficiency, agility or scalability, it’s not a priority.