Cameron Chehreh asks:

Where can I find a true vendor-neutral methodology that allows me to understand how my current portfolio will move to the cloud and what delivery models optimize my portfolio delivery?

CIO Questions by Cameron Chehreh, Fri, 04/13/2012 - 13:41




I see this , at least initially, not so much a matter of methodology as one of strategy. Before one can address "how" parts of your portfolio will move to the cloud one must first ask "what" can and should move. I see this as a thoughtful planning process where one examines the age, operational costs, complexities and support limitations of applications in the current portfolio and makes priority decisions about which ones need to be modernized. That may mean in place upgrades or replacement with some other type of offering which may or may not be cloud based. The next step is, of course, evaluating the options and making decisions based on what is available and meets your needs. I believe some of the most compelling cloud-based applications today are those that address core business processes that are common across industries such as HR, collaboration, even e-mail.

As far as the actual migration itself, I personally don't know of a tested and published methodology. I'm sure that the major consulting firms have or could develop a methodology but I believe that this is a competency that IT organizations need to learn and develop internally because it is really the first step in managing these vendors and I believe that this will be a key function for IT organizations in the near future. Gartner even has a term for this calling this function "service brokers.". I see migration to a cloud-based application as first and foremost a project that needs to be planned and executed using good project management principles. The big "gottchas" in these migrations are usually, in no particular order, data migration, performance, compatibility and interoperability with your environment (no, everything isn't always "plug and play" regardless of what the vendor tells you). Most vendors have a basic migration plan that, if properly managed, will work well. Rigorous testing is critical of course. So, use the vendor's migration tools and process but manage the project yourself using sound project management methods.

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Paul Muller 119 Points | Wed, 04/18/2012 - 00:20

The tried and true method for me is to adapt the Application Portfolio Management methodology with a pragmatic Enterprise (Service Oriented) Architecture approach. 

Starting with understanding what services you're providing, to who, at what benefit and cost.

One of the key elements that most methodologies ignore is the visible and hidden costs of training and enablement. Besides the visible cost of re-educating you users in the new services and processes, you should confirm is you are also liable for a salary/award bump triggered by employees gaining new skills?

This has been a particular concern with heavily unionised or public sector enterprises I have worked with.

Paul Oliver 1 Point | Tue, 04/17/2012 - 19:14

I'd reflect on Pearl's response and look at why you want to make the move. At present, in my opinion, cost is unlikely to be a major factor if your services run 24/7, although if you have a substantial batch requirement that could, perhaps run for 8 hours and then be shut down that may save some costs.

My view is that the cloud presents a different delivery model, it's ubiquitous, the services it provides tend to be one size fits all, it can achieve high levels of availability, if that's taken into account in application design, and it's Opex rather than Capex.

That being the case, I'd look at the business capabilities the IT portfolio is supporting and at their non functional requirements. They might suggest that cloud would be the better delivery platform.

Perhaps if the organisation carries out R&D activities, not necessarily in the IT space, and so rapidly provisioned infrastructure that can be torn down in a few weeks or months could be useful. Or, if the organisation is small / medium sized and wants to access some ERP or CRM capabilities it may provide a solution that wasn't previously accessible.


John Dodge 1535 Points | Tue, 04/17/2012 - 19:18

Paul, welcome to the Enterprise CIO Forum,

So better access and delivery of the app are tipping points for moving to the cloud? 

Christian Verstraete 429 Points | Mon, 04/16/2012 - 18:53

Cameron, I tend to agree with Joel. The first step, deciding where to put what application is fundamentally a strategy discussion. It is related to the nature of the application and the data. The second step, reviewing if the application can be migrated to where it is supposed to be (private, managed or public cloud), the discussion becomes technical. Does the application consists in a series of loosely coupled "services" tied together through data sources? Again, none of this is vendor specific. The third step, performing the appropriate transformation (re-host, re-architect, re-place, encapsulate) is vendor specific as you have to take into account the technology provided. But that's the last step and it has more to do with implementation than with the actual doing.

John Dodge 1535 Points | Mon, 04/16/2012 - 19:05

Christian, excellent and clear response...but that third step looks like a very big one. Would you have chosen a vendor before you begin that step? I also thought Bill Laberis point about choosing an existing vendor you already trust was a good one - one that will stay with you when there's bumps in the road.

Also, where do ROI and TCO calculations fit into these steps? Or should I say, cost of non-ownership!

Pearl Zhu 90 Points | Mon, 04/16/2012 - 18:07

Hi, Cameron, timely discussion which represent the similar concerns for majority of CIOs today, is cloud the opportnities or the risk, I agree with Joe, before exploring How, define the "What", I may add, before defining What, start with WHY? Why do you need step into the cloud? through deep analyzing the biggest challenging facing in your IT, for example, statistically now many organizations spent 70%+of their resources on legacy infrastructure maintenance & operational projects, worrying about upgrades to hardware and software, IT has the reputation as cost center to play the role as firefighter or controller, many other noble purposes regarding value/people/profit  such as: how to improve customer satisfaction and employees' roductivities.etc.

Going back to the HOW, prestigious consulting companies may have some handy framework to take advantage for, on the other hand, CIOs need orchestrate their Cloud architecture framework/methodology to harmonize with their own enterprise architecture/business capability map regarding the flavor of cloud and the speed of adoptation. In the other word, CIO need become the master of Cloud, to explore both strategy and methodology step by step with solid footprint. thanks

Bill Laberis 161 Points | Mon, 04/16/2012 - 13:54

I am not sure if you would ever find a totally cloud neutral provider or for that matter an 'anything neutral anything' in this business. Even if a provider is not branding their own products per se, they still have very tight, interlocking relationships with a variety of secondary providers that do. But I do believe that when it comes to the cloud, CIOs have to be very wary of not getting bogged down dealing with a myriad of providers. In many cases I think it makes most sense to deal initially with a large trusted partner, then leave the management/selection etc of the smaller partners to them. It is in both their interest and yours - theirs to be sure the third parties are reliable and yours so that you don't get caught up managing too many providers. You have better things to do with your time.

Jason Noel 1 Point | Fri, 04/13/2012 - 21:44

I am so glad you asked this question!  Full disclosure up front: this type of question was the genesis behind the start of the company I work for - Adaptivity Inc.

Your question specifically asks "Where can I find...".  I would love to be able to point you to a list of methods that you could choose from but unfortunately I am simply not aware of any methods or tools other than Adaptivity's that do this.  There are of course plenty of firms that offer cloud consulting but its tough ensure you do not end up with expensive shelfware or a protracted consulting engagement that does not provide near term results.

That said I promise I will try my best to answer your question as objectively and concisely as possible to point you in the right direction. J

First off, I want to compliment you on the application-centric perspective you are taking here.  Taking an application centric approach is absolutely the right way to approach cloud migration. It is applications that directly support a business, not the gear in the datacenter. Too often when planning and executing cloud migrations people only look at current state infrastructure usage for decisoning.  In my experience this is bad news.  This assumes that an application is 100% fulfilling the demands of the business and there is no opportunity for improvement.  Also, taking an infrastructure-centric approach does little to address the risk of “breaking” application dependencies and potentially impacting the business.

There are a few ways to approach this, top down (business driven) and bottoms-up (current state application deployment).  Both are valid but for this example I will use a, admittedly simplified, top-down approach. If I were to highlight the major steps to consider they would be as follows:

  1. Document your key business functions and activities, then quantify what’s important to them and what demand they place on your portfolio: Reduced risk? Agility? CapEx cost savings? High level of global availability? Strict regulatory requirements?
  2. Inventory your application portfolio and align it to your business activities:  This should include collecting information about the applications such as demographics, implementation and business relevance. The goal here is to understand what applications support what business activities and to have the information necessary to make fact based informed decisions.
  3. Understand the applications key workload performance characteristics: Low-latency? Intense Numerical Processing? This can be difficult and time without leveraging a toolset or method but I must say is very important. The reason I say this is that ALL CLOUDS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL. I think I actually preach about this every day.  But my point is this: getting two virtual machines from two different cloud providers with the same configuration on paper (e.g. 2 CPUs 4GB of RAM attached to 1TB of storage) does not mean they will perform the same.  They will absolutely have different characteristics so it is important to quantify what the required performance characteristics will need to be for an application to be supported properly.  This is critical when choosing a cloud provider.

So, after completing these three steps you should have collected enough information to intelligently decision as to what application you would like to move, and have the basis of the performance capabilities required by the future state cloud platform.  One more suggestion for you, if you have applications that are complex, not well documented, or business critical you may want to consider building out a current state deployment blueprints that highlight application inter-dependencies and shows infrastructure dependencies.  This will help mitigate unnecessary risk as you migrate those applications.

I hope this helps!


John Dodge 1535 Points | Fri, 04/13/2012 - 16:08

Great question, Cameron. I searched "cloud evaluation services" and found several links promsing to deliver on what you requesting. I certainly cannot vouch for their neutrality. But one thing is you might to get an outfit which evaluates your cloud needs, but does not sell cloud services. No vendor can be truly objective.



Cameron Chehreh 21 Points | Tue, 04/17/2012 - 00:43

Thanks for all the comments...the purpose of the question was to stimulate the discussion around the strategy and methodology for moving to the cloud and the inherit benefit of that approach vice exploring vendor specific best practices. Great answers and many thanks!