CIOs and IT leaders are increasingly acknowledging that cloud services are here to stay and have a desire to proactively start taking advantage. However, to get this right requires the right approach to application portfolio optimization, according to James Staten, principal analyst at Forrester.
Staten noted that one of the key questions during this move is: what apps to move to the cloud? The answer is complicated but starts with a very simple premise based on two key thoughts:
- Which applications are we wasting company resources running ourselves?
- Which of these applications fit what type of cloud deployment?
Answering these questions, especially the first one, is not as straightforward as it might seem and can be fraught with political and cultural barbs, said Staten. "It's easy to jump to a conclusion for the first question - commodity services. But what applications are really a commodity? And by whose standards?
"E-mail can easily be lumped into the commodity category and may be a logical place to start at your company. But how you configure, manage and integrate with this service is what will really determine how much of a commodity it really is to your organization," he pointed out.
Staten aded that questions to consider include whether your e-mail is uniquely secured? Have you built key workflow processes that tie into your implementation? Do you have a rich library of e-mail templates and forms used to kick off internal processes?
"These questions can turn what looks like a commodity into a key internal system that is configured, customized and operated so uniquely that you couldn't find anyone who could run it better than you do. Let alone consider switching to a SaaS-based solution," said Staten. On the other hand, it may pay off to go on the cloud if the current system is convoluted and bogged down.
Which perspective is right? That answer might lie in the eyes of the beholder, he said. "Get both sides of this argument in the same room and you may never come out with a conclusion either way."
Staten added that one way to find those answers is using Forrester's Strategic Rightsourcing tool, an Excel-based decision tool that gives an objective assessment of an application portfolio.
It includes a series of questions about the application's use, operations, management, security, and architecture. The answers spit out scores for each application helping you determine which apps are your best moves to the cloud. "Be strategic and don’t just outsource but rightsource," he pointed out.