Early cloud adopters have realized significant IT cost savings, efficiencies and service innovation, but many companies have struggled to get out of the starting blocks. One reason is that too much emphasis has been placed on the delivery model (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, public, private, hybrid, etc.) rather than focusing on the business value of a cloud-delivered solution.
A company evaluating cloud should bring "workload" (IT applications, functions or services) to the forefront of the discussion: Which workloads are inefficient, too expensive, and impede business innovation when delivered through traditional means?
While not a complete list, application development and test, virtual desktops, collaboration tools, analytics, infrastructure (storage, compute) are all viable workloads that can be delivered effectively through a cloud model. The technology behind the delivery is a secondary discussion.
The goal is to improve consumption and/or delivery of a specific business workload. The cloud benefits will manifest in cost savings, efficiencies, service and business innovation. Evaluators should ask these questions:
What workload(s) need to improve?
Is this an internal (IT consumption) or client-facing (IT service delivery) discussion?
What benefits can be realized through a cloud computing model for "this" workload?
Workload characteristics will also dictate the rate of cloud adoption for IT and business services. Complex transaction and information management processes, for example, will likely present challenges and risks of migration to standardized cloud services. Other workloads will move faster, presenting rapid return-on-investment and productivity gains.