There are many vertical markets that are seasonal, selling or serving the bulk of their annual turn-over in a single quarter. It is often cited by the analyst community that these markets are the ones that should be major cloud computing adopters. There is no doubting the technology argument for moving to cloud computing takes off. CIOs in seasonal, some call it peaky, markets can rent the extra technology provision they need as and when required.
However, and isn’t there always a however in technology. These are the very same industries that over the last 20 years invested considerable sums in building impressive technology infrastructures to cope with the seasons. This investment is deeper than technology hardware; it’s also in partnerships, internal skills, analysis and relationships. All of that gets neatly boxed up by the analyst community as legacy. Legacy can be expensive, it can be complicated. But it can also be essential, reliable and a security blanket for our nervous CEOs and CFOs.
Major technology strategy changes in organisations should include a decommissioning cost and benefits analysis. CIOs replacing major ERP systems will instigate decommissioning analysis as part of the project. So too must the same rigorous analysis be carried out when cloud computing is considered.
I have yet to see, and I challenge the market to do this, anyone really analyse the results of a CIO taking the bold step and switching to cloud and decommissioning systems. All too often this analysis may be done once a legacy system has reached the end of its useful life, or as a result of a merger or acquisition. But cloud computing can only really be seen to be a “game changer” if organisations can tell if the switch to cloud would change their game – for the better. No CIO or organisation will attempt the switch on a hunch, so a clear decommissioning analysis has to be created and delivered to the community.
The results will vary by sector and may startle many observers. Public sector CIOs report that the switch to cloud is held back not by the technology it offers the public sector, but by the low wages the public sector offers, thereby making cloud a more expensive option for adoption. But a decommissioning analysis could well challenge this notion.
Just as some vertical markets are analysing the cost benefit of leaving the high street for the .com street, organisations must analyse leaving traditional IT for cloud computing.