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June 3, 2016

CoMoving to a proprietary cloud: What you need to knowmpanies considering transitioning their operations to a proprietary cloud platform have three bigquestions to answer before moving ahead. As you consider your cloud strategy, do you have the answers?

For many organizations, the calculation of whether to move to a proprietary cloud environment is both exciting (reduced compute costs; someone else does maintenance and upgrade; faster time to market) and risky (loss of control; security discomfort; questions on data storage).

Therefore, it is natural to be both excited and cautious — jumping to aproprietary cloud (orpublic cloud) solution can feel like a baby bird being nudged out of the comfortable nest into a harsh world. The way to make significant transitions such as these is through baby steps, not one big jump. As you evaluate options, I encourage you to consider some of the business benefits of moving to the cloud featured in a recent article in Flarrio by TCS’ Oracle Practice leader, Sunder Singh.

Three fundamental questions in moving to a proprietary cloud:

  1. Do the applications and services being offered go deep enough to take on my critical business functions? Off-the-shelf proprietary cloud software is good at horizontal capabilities, but vertical solutions are another story. Will your critical business functions be supported to the degree you need by your cloud or leave glaring gaps in functionalities? Naturally, it now becomes imperative to understand the ease of building extensions to cater to essential custom needs. Compatibility of the underlying technology platforms and availability of developer-friendly tools are the key.
  2. Will my data be secure? Start by inventorying what data you have, and then what security or privacy requirements are assigned to those items. As an example, storing a person's medical records requires significantly more safeguarding than storing his shirt size. Once you have the requirements laid down, you can start evaluating the security and privacy capabilities of the cloud product.
  3. Who owns the data and who can get to it? When your data is created and stored on-prem, the answers are easier to come by — my roof, my rules, as they say. But if the data is created in Chicago and physically stored in Mumbai, what laws apply? And what about access — can my sales rep download the latest customer list in the field when she needs it? This leads us to consider whether the system possesses robust identity and access management capabilities.

If you or your technology partner can't comfortably answer these questions, you are not ready to consider a move to a proprietary cloud. Where are the answers? There are two sources of wisdom regarding cloud transitions, essentially: Inside expertise or outside advice. If you have a team of internal subject matter experts, then you are well on the way. But if not—and most companies don't have this knowledge in-house—then the best option is to turn outward.

The advantage to this is that consultants or system integrators can apply years of experience working in many domains and products to a customer's specific goals, processes, and budget requirements. A trusted adviser will provide the best experience having done these conversions many times over, looking through the perspective of "outside eyes".

You are likely to encounter resistance to going a proprietary cloud from any number of departments in your organization. Several IT veterans, for example, may be dead set against putting highly-sensitive data on a public cloud, period. They've successfully secured your records until now, so why change what works?

Outside eyes can help you unpack this issue without prejudice. Tested HIPPA-compliant solutions are offered by many cloud vendors, and the world's leading healthcare organizations trust their data to them. Your IT folks' skepticism might be warranted, but it also might be biased thinking and keeping the firm less competitive as a result. Rather than say "never" and close out options, a systems integrator can help you match your risk tolerance with proven public or private solution options, leading to a best-fit hybrid environment uniquely tailored for your needs.

The answers to these three questions should get you started on your path to a proprietary cloud in small, achievable steps. For example, one can choose a functional pillar (for instance, financials) or a new division (for instance, an acquisition) to start the journey towards cloud, adding on extensions to perfect the system, fine-tuning the integrations, and using the learnings to adopt newer cloud solutions for another function or line of business. However, throughout this evolution, the larger picture of the enterprise-wide final 'to-be' state should never get clouded by short-term goals but follow a convergent design.

I invite you to read my earlier blog on theme clouds as you consider your overall strategy in moving to the cloud, and I look forward to your questions or comments here about your journey moving to the cloud.

Suranjan Chatterjee is the Global Head for TCS' Cloud Apps, Microservices & API unit. Suranjan is currently responsible for driving business growth for the TCS' Cloud Apps Practice, delivering digital transformation services covering PaaS/API innovations to global customers, and leading the strategic initiatives to develop next-gen application modernization & integration service offerings on Cloud. 


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