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January 9, 2012

Enterprise Cloud Adoption Strategic Roadmap

Adoption of Cloud in an enterprise is more of a strategic decision than an operational or tactical. Cloud adoption needs to be seen more from enterprise architecture strategy perspective rather than an isolated application architecture specific strategy for the simple reason that it has several short and long term implications on enterprise strategy which may be beyond the specific application's business or technology footprint.

So far many enterprises have experimented and played around with Cloud, done successful pilots and learnt their lessons but when it comes to cloud adoption as an enterprise strategy, they are still in a Go, No Go kind of state. The reasons could be several from where to start, what to move first, what are the risks, etc.

The following figure depicts how an enterprise can approach adoption of cloud, which areas can be addressed first and where adoption can happen slightly delayed.


Source: Infosys Research

To broadly look at this, the above figure depicts various segments as segment 0 to segment 5, each specifying what the segment indicates,

Segment 0 "Support Services"
In this, early adopting enterprise can look at leveraging cloud to capture low hanging fruits such as hosting applications as is on cloud, migrating applications which are easy to migrate(less complex and easy to fit in cloud architecture), or could be for tasks as simple as just for storing data backups.

Segment 1 "On-Premise to Off Premise Integration"
Leverage cloud for having part of your application on cloud for example only database or for building integration kind of scenarios such as partner integration. These scenarios need establishing data/application connectivity between on-premise and off-premise components.

Segment 2 "Offload to Cloud"
This is an offshoot of Segment 1, in this approach you offload compute or data intensive operations of an application on the cloud as against the complete application.
e.g. NY Times converted more than 130 years' worth of articles (11 million articles in TIFF format) into PDFs using Hadoop and Amazon EC2 thus improving compliance and saving substantial costs in a very short time.
e.g. Harvard's Laboratory is using Cloud to simulate various genome analysis testing models to expedite their experiments in research laboratory.

Segment 3 "Multi Channel Scenarios (Smart Phone, Kiosk, Web, etc.)"
Building multi-channel applications that are available across various form factors such as Desktops, Web, Kiosk, smartphone, etc. and provide value added services such as rich reporting, dashboards, context exchange, etc.
e.g. Nike+ Cloud based multi-channel applications to improve customer engagement by providing value added services.
Apple iCloud based apps. is another example.

Segment 4 "Social, Elasticity on demand Apps"
Building applications for which the user base is not pre-determined or profiles identified. Architecting such applications needs significant different approach than traditional ones to take care of counter spikes in usage like product launch or social apps, providing federated authentication, etc.
e.g. Nike+ is using Cloud based multi-channel applications to improve customer engagement by providing value added services.

Segment 5 "Specialized Services"
When enterprise wants to provide a specific functionality as an end service to its users or customers such as HPC, mobility or Analytics as a Service where users can upload their datasets and run these services falls under this segment. This is different from what is mentioned in Segment 2 in the sense that these services are abstracted at the same time specialized to highest extent and meant for providing " a Service" as against running only a specific component in cloud.

As depicted, the architecture complexity and associated risk gradually increases from segment 0 to segment 5 and hence it is recommended that enterprise should take a phased, step by step approach while weaving cloud in an enterprise architecture strategy.
While the above segments are for guidance, depending on enterprise risk appetite, process and technology maturity, an enterprise can also directly start from segment 2 or 3 as deem fit.

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