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8 project risks in public enterprise cloud

Rob Livingstone
September 30, 2011

3. Marketing and delivery misalignments

Be aware of the marketing message versus what you actually end up with in your public cloud. For example, a leading public cloud provider’s website states: ‘you only pay for what you need’ and ‘scaling up or down is easy’, while the contract states: ‘the number of user subscriptions purchased cannot be decreased during the relevant subscription term’ (which is 12 months).

4. The ‘hype’ scares away the cautious

The ‘cloud huggers’ or self proclaimed evangelists are happy to be early adopters, and drive their organisations to be ahead of the curve. On the other hand, organisations who are risk averse, and with a modicum of good governance are adopting a more considered approach, preferring to wait until the industry matures. This delay may also mean missed opportunities.

5. Most public cloud providers are overseas entities

The most popular and widely used public cloud providers are overseas entities. For organisations concerned about the location and international legal jurisdiction of their enterprise data, this fact may limit the en masse deployment of cloud.

6. Public cloud vendor contracts lack balance

Earlier this year, University of NSW Cyberspace law and policy professor Roger Clarke reviewed the terms of use for six well known public cloud applications. The result was anything but complimentary: “None of the nine providers satisfy all of the reasonable expectations of users” (see source).

The majority, if not all, public cloud contracts favour the provider and not the user, so beware of what you sign up for in the public cloud if it’s important to you and your business.

7. Risk-reward curve uncertain in the long term

Invariably, a short-term and well defined business need can be met by a cloud point solution with defined boundaries and integration points. On the other hand, the project management rigour and governance needed in achieving tight integration with other applications at the enterprise level takes a bit longer, increases cost and complexity. This in turn decreases your ability to switch providers at no cost, at a future date.

8. Immaturity in industry standards

Steve Diamond, who chairs the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Cloud Computing Initiative, sums this up the current situation well: “Cloud computing today is very much akin to the nascent internet—a disruptive technology and business model that is primed for explosive growth and rapid transformation. However, without a flexible, common framework for interoperability, innovation could become stifled, leaving us with a siloed ecosystem.” In respect of the standard project management methodologies such as PRINCE2,  how, if at all, are these standards to be amended to cater for the cloud computing paradigm?

These are indeed interesting times for organisations in that, for the first time they have real choices, however making these choices based on perceptions and opinions without the sage advice and council from your trusted IT and other advisers could well result in you not achieving the expected benefits of cloud.

The message for project managers is clear: become well educated and fully informed on all the issues surrounding the implementation of cloud computing solutions in the enterprise, and in doing so, help avoid stressed projects, and ensure the project management profession remains on the front foot with this new paradigm.

Rob Livingstone
Rob Livingstone is the owner of Rob Livingstone Advisory Pty Limited. He is a highly respected and experienced CIO, with more than three decades of professional experience in the corporate world, including a number of multinational companies. He is the author of 'Navigating through the Cloud'.
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