Increasingly organisations are taking to the Cloud to manage their infrastructure (IaaS), applications (SaaS), and development platforms (PaaS).
It’s a trend that is set to continue as organisations look to simply their IT platforms and drive efficiencies and savings. The transition to Cloud-based solutions is leading to an increased demand for project managers with Cloud delivery expertise.
But are Cloud projects that much different to traditional Infrastructure projects and what are the knowledge gaps if any that a project manager needs to be aware of?
The crossover between traditional and cloud infrastructure
Firstly it depends on what type of Cloud solution the organisation is implementing. There are three widely accepted cloud models; public, private or a hybrid cloud combining elements of both public and private. Each has their own unique requirements and challenges.
However, all still retain significant crossovers with traditional Infrastructure Projects. Below we have identified some of the unique challenges project managers need to be cognisant of when delivering a Cloud project as opposed to a traditional Infrastructure Project.
Key data will now potentially be stored off-site. Cloud-based data access requires that additional steps must be taken during the project to test that the data will be accessible according to the agreed SLAs and data accuracy. This additional focus could include greater volume testing, testing for remote access and understanding the Cloud service providers break/fix process when key data is not available.
With Cloud solutions, applications and data could now be stored physically off-site in new or yet to be tested production environments provided by the Cloud service provider. The project manager should take extra steps to ensure the locations are secure and meet the organisations security SLAs.
Particularly with Hybrid Cloud models, there is a greater complexity in the Solution Architecture, often with a mix and match of where the various components (application, infrastructure, data etc) physically reside and who is responsible for them. The Project Manager needs to be aware of this greater complexity and plan accordingly around delivery and testing the various integration points between the organisations systems and platforms and those of the Cloud service provider.
During Cloud implementations, much of the delivery team will be off-site, in multiple locations and potentially overseas in different time zones. Project managers should be mindful of these additional vendor management requirements and plan the project governance and communications accordingly and look to use effective meeting technology (i.e. Skype) where appropriate.
With the reliance on external solution providers instead of in-house teams the path to escalate issues will be significantly different. Project managers need to be much more aware of what are the paths for escalation and make sure they are fit for purpose to ensure issues can be readily triaged and fixed in suitable time frames regardless of the reporting lines or location of the various teams.
The Cloud Infrastructure Checklist
Whilst Cloud projects share many characteristics with traditional Infrastructure projects there are some significant differences. Whilst the above list is not exhaustive it is a sound starting checklist for use by a project manager who may be embarking on their first Cloud project and if followed should help set them up for success.
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