Without doubt Cloud technology is the latest trend being embraced by organisations to manage their infrastructure (IaaS), applications (SaaS), and development platform (PaaS).

It is a trend that will only gather pace over the coming years as increasing pressure is brought upon IT budgets across all industries and Cloud delivery and costs models mature.

An argument in favour of cloud assets is the ability to shrink the IT footprint and transfer commodity services to others whilst keeping your specialist skills in-house. For example, your development and deployment environments may be delivered via PaaS, but the development expertise stays within your internal teams.

As a result, organisations are increasingly looking for project managers who have experience in delivering Cloud projects.

But do Cloud projects require new techniques or specific expertise or can the tried and tested approaches to project delivery be readily translated to Cloud projects?

Transfer of technology, retention of knowledge
The industry-accepted definition of Cloud Computing is the delivery of infrastructure, application and data services to organisations using the Internet as the network.

The management and security of the IT platform and services is essentially outsourced to 3rd parties with the physical sites being remote or ‘in the cloud’. A Cloud solution can therefore be a series of moving parts across infrastructure, networks, applications, data and outsourcing.

From a project delivery perspective, the key components of a Cloud project are well known and would be nothing new to an experienced project manager.

It is however the blend of the solution and heightened importance of some of these elements that set a Cloud project apart from a traditional Infrastructure or Application project.

These include:

1. A greater focus is required on change and stakeholder management around security of data
Whether fact or fiction business will become nervous with the thought that their data will now be stored off site and managed by a third party and is therefore at greater risk of compromise.

Project managers delivering Cloud projects need to take this into account and ensure their testing cycles are fit for purpose and the management of stakeholder expectations is given priority to adequately address heightened concerns around data security.

2. By using the Internet, the network access takes on greater importance
Project managers need to ensure the internal and external gateways are reliable, secure and well supported and can cope with the expected increases in data heading in both directions.

3. Service Delivery Models
SLAs and the service delivery model need to be both very well understood and steps taken to test and ensure that they are fit for purpose.

With the support being largely outsourced for the cloud component it is imperative that stakeholders are comfortable the SLAs will meet the needs of the business in terms of business continuity and support and the IT organisation knows who is on point for addressing an issue no matter where it occurs in the end to end business process.

4. Understanding total cost of project takes on added importance during the business case phase
Cloud solutions can be cost effective to set up but may become very expensive once operational due to the common use of transactional costs models. It is important these BAU operational costs are accurately modeled and clearly understood and communicated to stakeholders for approval.

Cloud projects are set to become more prevalent over the next decade if current industry trends continue.

By following some of the above steps project managers should be better equipped to understand what makes a Cloud project unique and therefore take suitable actions to ensure their projects are set up for success.

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Quay Consulting
Quay Consulting is a professional services business specialising in the project landscape, transforming strategy into fit-for-purpose delivery. Meet our team ...