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Larry Carvalho

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Related Topics: Cloud Computing, SaaS Journal, IT as a Service, Platform as a Service

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Integrated Solutions – 2004 vs 2011

Cloud technology's effect on customer solutions

Back in 2004, I worked for IBM, which offered end-to-end solutions that few other technology vendors could provide.  An automotive customer in Australia had a myriad of disjointed processes connecting them with their end users and wanted to achieve tangible cost savings by improving operational effectiveness. To accomplish these goals, the client wanted to deliver services to their dealers, suppliers and fleet customers through a single portal interface. This was going to be achieved through the integration of information, people and processes to help maintain more effective relationships.

Without the availability of cloud services, this project started with the typical waterfall approach, i.e., collecting requirements, developing the infrastructure, and delivering the first components of the solution. Building a hosted solution took about 12 months. Building the total functionality took an additional 18 months. As a hosted solution, the final solution had support costs.

If such a project were being delivered now, here is where I see cloud functionality changing many aspects of such a project:

  1. Security: Handling data in a manner that enables the customer to meet regulatory needs while measuring risks.
  2. Requirements gathering: After requirements, the first step would be to match solution needs to existing SaaS solutions. SaaS solutions give you immediate benefit with attractive payment models as well as reduce time-to-market.
  3. Architecture: Proper architecture is crucial to be able to handle unexpected outages of consumed cloud services.
  4. Integration: Cloud integration solutions like Boomi (Dell) and Castiron (IBM) would be used to connect SaaS with on-premise software.
  5. Deployment: Extensive use of public cloud offerings would reduce time-to-deploy as well as handle scalability based on adoption.
  6. Development: Use of the appropriate platform would remove infrastructure headaches and allow quick development of solution components that are not available as SaaS solutions. New PaaS offerings will allow an application owner to deploy an application without having to worry about the IT infrastructure.
  7. Chargeback: Assigning costs to appropriate business units would be possible on a granular level that helps measure the effectiveness of the solution with benefits gained.
  8. Multi-tenancy: Components of this solution would reduce costs from sharing infrastructure with multiple customers.

If such a solution were going to use cloud technologies, there are a couple of aspects that organizations need to be aware of:

  1. Skills: Identifying in-house talent supported by consultants would be appropriate in such an endeavor.
  2. Vendor lock-in: Make sure you have an exit strategy if for some reason a vendor providing any of the services does not meet its obligations.

In 2004, the cost of this solution was roughly $8 million. I can foresee such a solution costing between $1-2M dollars for development and $500K per year for a pay-as-you go model. The real benefit will come from being able to upgrade such a solution with minimal effort, matching changing customer requirements with unparalleled agility.

Cloud computing has brought a whole different way of delivering information technology. Organizations leveraging these capabilities will stand out ahead of their competitors in delivering unique solutions in a way never possible before. Are you ready?

More Stories By Larry Carvalho

Larry Carvalho runs Robust Cloud LLC, an advisory services company helping various ecosystem players develop a strategy to take advantage of cloud computing. As the 2010-12 Instructor of Cloud Expo's popular Cloud Computing Bootcamp, he has already led the bootcamp in New York, Silicon Valley, and Prague, receiving strong positive feedback from attendees about the value gained at these events. Carvalho has facilitated all-day sessions at customer locations to set a clear roadmap and gain consensus among attendees on strategy and product direction. He has participated in multiple discussion panels focused on cloud computing trends at information technology events, and he has delivered all-day cloud computing training to customers in conjunction with CloudCamps. To date, his role has taken him to clients in three continents.