Cloud: Build IT, Fix IT, or Buy IT?

Absolutely and undoubtedly the most critical and common question I hear from IT leadership today in regards to Cloud Enablement (double buzz word score!) is – “Should we build the infrastructure ourselves, fix what we have, or just hand over the project and buy it from someone else?”

The marketing translation is private-cloud, hybrid-cloud, and public-cloud.

Just in case you want to save some time and skip the rest of this post, the short answer is –“it depends and/or combination of all three.”

I know, it is both a frustratingly noncommittal response and a lazy answer at best, but unfortunately, this is the world we live in today.

Why? Because (warning controversial statement) “The Cloud” is still very early in its maturity stage and making long term decisions based on something that is in constant flux is difficult. Even further, your envrionment is nothing like anyone else’s so every evaluation point is literally a unique variable in the decision process. This means every choice you make is pretty much a guess.

How then can anyone ever get anything done if we never know the correct answers? First step is to narrow down the options with questions like:

  • Does the team have enough cycles to learn about, understand, and compare all the different options in the market while keeping up with their daily responsibilities?
  • If not, can you dedicate the appropriate amount of resources (people and/or money) to fully architect, deploy, and maintain an environment on time and within a set budget?
  • Is your primary business in developing and deploying applications? If not, do you plan on moving in that direction?
  • Will there be a chance to monetize the solution or expand into a new market?
  • Do you already have enough in your environment to modify to meet your near term requirements?
  • Can someone else do it for less cost at the same or better quality?
  • What is the backup plan or “get well” strategy if someone else cannot deliver on promised SLA’s?
  • What is your tolerance for risk?
  • Can you demonstrate accurately the operation cost of keeping your infrastructure on premise vs. moving it to a hosted provider?

Second step then is to look at this answers and assess if it meets desired outcomes and goals. If it does, you have a great jumping off point. If it doesn’t, you need to continue to ask questions.

One thing I do want to make clear is that these questions are not trying to steer the conversation into any one particular solution. Like I mentioned above there are several ways to solve this challenge and making the best recommendation always comes down to digging in and finding out as much information as possible and try to make the most educated guess as possible.

Remember, no solution is ever perfect, but asking tough and sometimes uncomfortable questions will provide a good starting point for you to move in the right direction!

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