Reaching for the Cloud: The Right Way

commissioned by CA Technologies

By Andy Jordan, PMP, gantthead Research Analyst

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Executive Summary
A lot has been written on cloud computing. Much of it highlights the tremendous benefits that can be realized by moving to the cloud, and readers can be forgiven for thinking that all they have to do is implement a cloud-based infrastructure model and suddenly they will see tremendous cost reductions and efficiency gains. Unfortunately, life is never that simple, and a decision to implement a cloud-based infrastructure may be one of the most complicated facing an organization today. In this paper, we look at the factors that go into making the business commitment to move to the cloud (and it should be a business-driven decision, not a technology-driven one), consider some of the major elements that have to be decided on and – most importantly – consider how to make the transition. Throughout this piece, we want to focus on the correct management of the process, and that means embracing effective and efficient project and portfolio management (PPM) concepts. A migration to the cloud is a major decision for any organization regardless of its size, industry and location, and it needs to be carefully planned, executed and managed for the long term to ensure that it delivers all of the expected benefits without jeopardizing the business today or tomorrow. Yet too often, the migration is simply seen as an IT responsibility that is not subject to the same scrutiny and management as other businesscritical initiatives. PPM brings a more strategic level of management to the process. PPM is concerned with ensuring that the overall mix of projects (the various elements of a cloud migration plus the other initiatives that an organization needs to execute) is structured to maximize the chances of success, where success is measured in terms of organizational goals and objectives – the bottom-line benefits of the initiatives. PPM begins with the initial planning of these initiatives – the consideration of alternatives, the business cases and reviews. It then needs to be part of the decision-making process that determines the final makeup of the project portfolio, and finally it needs to manage the execution of those initiatives: independently, within their programs and as part of the overall portfolio.

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Laying the foundation
Before a decision on whether cloud computing is right for an organization can be taken, that organization needs to establish what it is that they are trying to achieve. This sounds obvious: you never undertake a project without understanding what the expected benefits are. But with a cloud migration, this can be a more complex process. The concept of cloud computing is so prevalent today that there are few business leaders who do not have an opinion on what it is, what it can deliver and whether it is right for them. These preconceived biases have to be overcome in order to develop a strategy that works for the overall business, not just some departments.

FOUNDATIONAL GUIDES

 DO
Establish cloud decision-making criteria in the context of the larger portfolio. Most mission-critical systems are far too integrated to consider in isolation.

 DO
Base all cloud decisions on documented business objectives.

This shouldn’t begin with the process of defining cloud elements; that’s like  DO NOT building requirements without objectives. Instead, there has to be common Make important judgment about the cloud agreement on what a move to the cloud is designed to achieve for the entire based on any individuals' bias about the technology. organization. The CIO is clearly looking to realize the cost savings that can result from not purchasing and maintaining new hardware on a regular basis, and he or she will also make a strong argument for the reduction in business continuity and business recovery risk that exists in the event of a major hardware failure of an internal infrastructure. Those benefits have to be mitigated by concerns (real or perceived) over security, data privacy, compliance, etc. Some will argue that this is too early in the business planning cycle for PPM to be involved, but I don’t accept this. The decisions made here are the foundation of the entire work, establishing and agreeing on the drivers for a migration. This is exactly where PPM can help to initiate the process of making cloud transitions successful. PPM can help to quantify the business value associated with any likely transition by providing an analysis of key factors including (but not limited to) business criticality, market differentiators, financial projections and required resources. A skilled project management resource (solution) can help to facilitate this process and ensure that the organization is consistent in its decision making, identifies and prioritizes the project constraints and balances business needs with legal, regulatory and governance requirements.

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By creating the right cloud decisioning criteria in a PPM solution, CIOs will have a holistic view of the entire portfolio – which will assist their decision making and will allow for central management of the entire transformation effort at every key stage, including:

 Defining the strategy and goals both in business and IT terms  Mapping the current and target IT state post-transformation  Establishing a transition plan and identifying the resources and costs involved  Managing the execution of transformation projects  Monitoring and reviewing progress both at a project and program level.
Once this initial work has been completed, the organization needs to detail how to make the transition. And to return to our project analogy, that has to begin with the objectives – again, something that a PPM function can help to manage. The factors driving our project have to be given metrics that will ultimately establish whether a cloud migration has been successfully completed, and whether the post-migration environment continues to be successful in delivering all originally defined benefits. These metrics will vary by organization, but will likely include some variance on the following (plus many more):

 Return on investment. Clearly, cost saving is a major factor in a cloud migration, and the goal for ROI needs to be
established early. The ultimate success of the project will be measured by its ability to achieve the ROI goal when considering the cost savings from reduced infrastructure and support costs, but also from any increase in governance, risk mitigation, security audit and tracking, etc.

 Ability to support the business. This is a harder metric to measure objectively, but it is arguably far more important

than simple ROI. Technology is a strategic element of the business, not a tactical one. If the technology strategy is incapable of supporting the business strategy, then the cost savings are (almost) irrelevant. Organizations have to ensure that any solution will be capable of growing and evolving in response to the ever-changing needs of business departments. availability. The organization should be looking for improved compliance with existing SLA standards, or compliance with improved standards, as a tangible measure of the benefits from a cloud solution. risks associated with a physical onsite data center and reducing other risks associated with business continuity / recovery. At the same time there may well be an increase in other aspects of risk – increased reputational risk in the event that a cloud partner has issues with data being compromised for example. The organization needs to establish metrics to ensure that the overall risk exposure, as well as the profile of how that exposure is spread across different aspects of the business, is acceptable.

 Service level agreements. A move to a cloud-based solution should not require a compromise in performance and  Control of risk. Moving to a cloud based infrastructure will change the business risk – potentially eliminating some

I could go on – utilization, security, risk, privacy, etc. – but the point is made. Before any cloud project is initiated, there needs to be clearly defined goals and objectives that will ultimately be used to measure success. Only then can you start looking at the detailed elements of a cloud solution. Traditionally, once this work is complete the project and/or program managers will be appointed; but by incorporating a more progressive PPM approach that recognizes the advantages that project professionals can bring to earlier stages, an initiative reaches this point with the individuals who are responsible for execution having a much better understanding of the business drivers behind the migration.

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Scoping the program
Once these key drivers have been established and the targets quantified, the organization is ready to look at the elements that will make up the program (the size of a migration will require the work to be broken down into a number of distinct initiatives). Often this is where organizations make the fatal mistake with a cloud migration – they hand the initiative off to IT and allow the business to walk away. To understand why that is the wrong approach, let’s consider a more common project – a new product development. The business unit that is commissioning the product still drives the process of defining the ”what” – the features, functions, look and feel, and only hands off to the technology team for the ”how” – the process of turning requirements into an end product. Just because business units likely have less awareness of the details involved in a cloud migration, they shouldn’t be handing the ”what” elements off to IT.

SCOPING GUIDES

 DO
Apply a strong PPM methodology to the scoping process.

 DO
Consider IT an "expert partner" in the process.

 DO NOT
"Hand off" cloud projects to IT.

IT will have to provide more of an ”expert guide” role on the scoping efforts, and this requires careful management to ensure that the advice is unbiased. Constant reference back to the objectives is needed to ensure that personal or departmental biases aren’t introduced. This scoping effort is absolutely vital in determining the success (or otherwise) of any cloud migration. The decisions made at this point will determine how successful the organization becomes at creating an agile, flexible technology approach that can react quickly to the changing needs of the business. If the wrong decisions are made then the organization can end up with nothing more than an “outsourced current state” model that suffers from the same challenges that they are facing today. It may take several months to complete, with many rounds of debate, but it’s a process that simply cannot be cut short. Managing this process is perhaps the single most important element of the initiative, and the area where PPM really comes into its own. Failure to correctly scope the initiative will result in missed business expectations, bad investment decisions,and an investment in IT enabled business that fails to deliver on ROI. Typical scoping exercise will likely include an early drill down into which applications to migrate and how to sequence them, and this may on the surface sound like a solid way to proceed. However, engage a PMO with a strong PPM methodology and we get a much more complete approach that may also lead to additional projects being launched. Here are a few examples:

 Conduct an inventory of current systems and applications. If you don’t know where you currently are then you can’t

build a reliable plan to get to where you want to be. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a thorough technology inventory to uncover applications and infrastructure running outside of the organization’s formal technology model with unapproved applications, servers sitting under desks, etc. Work needs to be undertaken to fully identify each of these situations so that a formal plan can be developed to manage them. be considered. Not all applications are appropriate for a move to the cloud, and alternatives should be considered. This may be maintaining the status quo, but it may also include modernization, retirement, consolidation, etc. Scoping is just as much about what is out of scope as it is about what is in scope; however, elements that are out of scope for the cloud migration may have their own projects initiated to deal with them, and this is again where the PMO can drive the work. private cloud. But there are also hybrid versions as well as decisions to self-manage a private cloud or partner with a third party. Some alternatives may be rejected by the organization for risk or cost reasons, while some other options may only be considered for some applications due to concerns over security, data privacy, regulatory requirements, internal governance, etc. It is not necessary at this stage to finalize the model for every application that will migrate, but you do need to establish which options are to be excluded completely and which ones have restricted use.

 Consider all options. This may be a scoping for a cloud migration, but that doesn’t mean that other options shouldn’t

 Consider migration alternatives. There are a lot of different cloud models – at a basic level, the concept of public or

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Of course there also need to be decisions made on prioritizing and sequencing, vendors to partner with, etc., but these decisions require this larger framework to be in place if the likelihood of success is to be maximized. With this framework in place, scoping can move forward with a more traditional approach and evolve into requirements gathering and project planning.

PPM and the portfolio
A cloud migration is likely to involve a significant amount of work, and will probably need to be conducted in a number of phases – not many organizations will feel comfortable with a ”big bang” style deployment of hundreds, perhaps thousands of applications into the cloud. This will result in the need for a program to be developed, a series of related projects that are executed over a period of time to achieve a shared goal – in this case, the many elements of a cloud migration where an individual project may be responsible for only one or two applications, or one single deployment to one cloud platform. At the same time, the organization will be conducting many other initiatives – business cannot stand still simply because a cloud migration is occurring. Some of those projects will also require work by the IT teams who are working on the migration, and that’s where the importance of managing the entire portfolio down to the resource level comes in.

PORTFOLIO GUIDES

 DO
Let business need and competitive advantage drive projects.

 DO
Ensure portfolio-level metrics are in place to track strategic impact.

 DO NOT
Drive project execution based on resource availability.

PPM needs to consider the relative priorities of all initiatives (where does the cloud migration fit within the entire project portfolio of the organization?) and make decisions based on that – resource allocations (people, budget, logistics), scheduling (allowing more time for some tasks to allow for parallel work vs. shortening timeframes at the expense of other initiatives), etc. This must again be business driven – the launch of a new product should be driven by the need to gain and/or maintain competitive advantage, not by when resources are available to work on it. PPM also needs to be able to manage portfolio level metrics – PMs are used to tracking status, but PPM requires that to be taken to a much more strategic level (resource utilization and productivity, project success when measured against business objectives, etc.).

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Only the PMO has visibility into this level of information, and only then if it has strong PPM in place. So there is a vital need for the PMO to be an active participant in any program – and cloud migration is no different. Some of this involvement will occur during the program launch – working at an organizational level to secure vendors rather than on a project-by-project basis, for example. Much of this work though will occur during the project and program execution. Project and program managers will be managing the work on their initiatives and dealing with the issues that arise, but they will always have a smaller focus – concern about the cloud migration itself, or their elements of it. By engaging with the PMO and taking a PPM view of the challenges, better solutions can be uncovered than by simply trying to manage things from within the program. For example, a PPM-based approach will allow the PMO to identify how an issue on one project may have an effect on other initiatives, how a delay on one project may cause opportunity to reallocate resources to recover from a delay on another initiative or how the realization of a risk on one project may require reassessment of similar risks in related projects. Additionally, PPM can uncover some issues that the program may not be aware of – overall organizational risk tolerance may have changed as a result of something that has absolutely nothing to do with the cloud migration. However, this change in tolerance will require the migration program to update its risk assessments and potentially change some project elements in response.

PPM beyond the project
Typically in project management, the hand-off of the final product is seen as the end of the project. There may be some administrative elements to finalize, but to all intents and purposes the project is considered complete. In IT projects this is especially true as responsibility generally shifts to the customer or business unit that commissioned the project. Often there is a brief transition period before support moves to the help desk, but resources generally move on to the next project. In a cloud migration this is even more likely to happen. The sheer volume of migrations that are likely required will mean that resources have to have a rapid turnaround to move on to the next application to migrate and leave the completed work behind.

POST-PROJECT GUIDES

 DO
Gather and leverage lessons learned on cloud-specific projects.

 DO NOT
Release resources too early.

This approach is problematic for the organization as a whole. The objective is not simply to complete a migration; as we saw earlier in this paper, we are looking to generate significant benefits from the move in terms of ROI, risk reduction, etc. Project teams are not monitoring to ensure that these benefits are truly occurring, so PPM has to fill the void. PPM needs to be able to support the organization in measuring whether the expected benefits are being achieved. While some of these benefits may only occur over time, it is important to validate as much as possible, as soon as possible. This will mean monitoring trends and identifying and analyzing any early variances from expectations. It will also mean ensuring that expected internal benefits are occurring – if a migration was to result in a reduction in required infrastructure resources, then are those resource reductions actually occurring at the speed and rate that was projected?

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It is vital to monitor and analyze any anomalies early on, because if they are indicative of an inherent problem then steps need to be taken to correct that issue. For example, if a particular approach was approved based on performance metrics and the actual performance of the application after the migration is considerably worse than expected, then any further migrations of performance-sensitive applications will need to be reviewed and possibly modified. Additionally, work will need to be undertaken to identify the root cause of the performance problem with the migrated application and potentially undertake corrective actions. Once more, the PMO has a critical role to play here through effective PPM. The outcome of the analysis of any variances will be changes to the project portfolio in the form of additional initiatives, changes to the scope and/or timeframe of remaining migration projects, revisions to risk assessments, adjustments to migration priorities, etc. In severe cases, the results from early migrations may drive an alternative migration strategy for later applications.

Managing PPM
In this paper we have discussed many different aspects of a potential migration of an organization’s infrastructure to the cloud, and we have suggested that PPM is a vital tool in managing the overall process. That’s an easy thing to say, but how do we manage PPM itself? The discipline of PPM is much more than just project management – and that’s complicated enough. An organization cannot simply develop a PPM methodology and expect the PMO to be able to manage everything successfully. PPM itself requires a support infrastructure, and that’s where PPM tool suites come in. Of course when we talk about cloud migrations there is the issue of how a PPM suite should be managed, but let’s set that issue aside for now and focus on what an organization needs to be able to achieve in its PPM suite. I don’t want to focus purely on product “features”; let’s look at the business challenges that a PPM solution needs to help solve:

 Portfolio Management. At the most fundamental level, the solution needs to support the business in the decisiono Investment planning with the ability to perform “what if” analysis to project outcomes under different investment alternatives.

making process for where to invest the limited amount of investment dollars available. Much of the points below are an extension of this core requirement, but a tool suite also needs to support business functions like:

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o o o

Evaluation of different portfolios based on cost, return, risk, alignment, etc. Capturing and management of new proposals to avoid losing ideas from within the organization. Real time status reporting.

 IT Services cost tracking. In an ideal world, organizations will already have an accurate way to measure the cost of IT
services. But in reality, that is unlikely. If a significant investment is going to be made in migrating to the cloud, then we need to also ensure that we gain a strong understanding of what our costs are under that model. PPM software can assist here in a number of ways: o Tying costs to specific services – showing current costs, cost savings after a migration and allowing for specific savings to be tied to each migration element and thereby helping to answer questions on whether ROI targets have been achieved, and where further work is needed. Identify services that will offer the biggest “bang for the buck” when it comes to a cloud migration. Putting objective measures on the services that are shared across multiple business functions, that consume the most resources (effort, time, money), etc. Allow for analysis of the applications and services where a cloud migration is unlikely to offer significant savings, thereby allowing for better allocation of investments

o

o

 Demand management. One of the key benefits that needs to come from a cloud migration is the ability to eliminate

some in-house support resources, thereby driving infrastructure maintenance costs lower. However, cloud migration also drives different resource needs into the organization – management of an in-house private cloud, vendor management, data and security audits, etc. A PPM solution needs to be able to assist in managing the demand for these skillsets, both during the projects and afterward. Demand management functionality should provide: o o An ability to measure and manage all work (demand) coming to the IT organization regardless of whether it is project related or operational, planned or unexpected. The ability to predict and project demand, both overall and by function/specialization to assist in resource planning, training, etc.

 Resource management. Related to the above point, a PPM solution needs to be able to assist in managing

resources. While this is predominantly a project-related activity (because that is where the greatest shift of resources occurs), your tool suite should also be able to manage operational/support resources. It is also worth noting that while we generally think of resources as people, this can also include other IT resources – test labs, for example. This functionality needs to include: o o o Resource utilization rates, both overall and individual – understanding how busy each resource is and also how effectively the pool of resources is being used. Availability of resources – what or who is available, when, and for how long. Skills management – which skills are available in order to assist with planning and scheduling of training and skills development activities.

Of course, beyond each of these functions the PPM suite also needs to act as a more traditional project management tool allowing for the tracking of initiatives; the capturing and management of risks, issues, changes, etc.; and the consolidation of information into project status reports and program and portfolio dashboards. The tool should also have collaboration capabilities to enhance the capability of team members from different departments and locations to work together more effectively, and there needs to be robust, subscription-based reporting to allow business leaders to get the information they want, when they want, in the format that they want it.

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Conclusions
Cloud computing is clearly here to stay! The CIO who is asked to move their organization into the cloud is faced with high expectations from the business who are anticipating agility and speed to become the new norm all while there exists significant risk of failure if the migration is not managed successfully. In order to stand any chance of success, a CIO (and by extension the organization as a whole) needs the right kind of support infrastructure – information and processes available when needed, in a format that can easily be consumed. PPM tools can provide much of that framework, and when implemented and managed correctly (and supported by strong business processes), they can be the difference between success and failure. The organization that does not think that such investment is necessary (or worse, thinks that it doesn’t have time to implement the right process infrastructure) is gambling not just with the budget for a migration but with its very survival. In the 21st century, it is impossible to manage a business effectively without a strong IT infrastructure. If a cloud migration fails, then the business will be faced with not just wasted investments, but a technology framework that leaves it uncompetitive at a time when agility, speed and flexibility are the keys to success.

Modern PPM solutions are so much more than simply “super project” tools. The right PPM solution can help the organization to make faster, more informed investment decisions about the future shape of the portfolio and provide comprehensive IT governance capabilities – something that is vitally important in defining, delivering and managing a cloud-based infrastructure. PPM isn’t just a nice tool to support a cloud migration; it’s a whole new way of looking at the business and provides CIOs with the insight, control and flexibility to turn IT transformation ideas into real value-added business services – as well as the ability to adjust the service portfolio as market or business conditions change.

Andy Jordan, PMP is a gantthead Research Analyst and Subject Matter Expert. He is also the founder and president of Roffensian Consulting. Andy is a seasoned business professional with experience in many industries on two continents. After a career managing high profile, business critical projects for many organizations, Andy moved into leadership of project management offices and built a reputation for building, rescuing and improving this key function. Moving beyond direct involvement in project, program and portfolio management and into consulting, Andy focused on working with companies to improve their capability to identify, prioritize and track the progress of key initiatives whether they were part of an ongoing evolution or to revolutionize the company through integration of an acquisition, organizational change management, etc.

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