How to Implement Cloud Technologies
This is part 4 of a 4-part series called Demystifying the Cloud. This blog series explores the differences between cloud-based solutions and traditional on-premise solutions, and the potential that the right cloud solution has to impact manufacturing organizations.
When moving away from on-premises solutions, organizations should expect the process to be multi-step to ensure a successful transition. Integrating an enterprise-wide cloud solution can feel daunting to an organization new to cloud-based solutions. However, remember that your service provider can also be a partner. No matter your industry or solution, I recommend following three steps to most successfully implement cloud technologies.
STEP 1: PERFORM A RISK ASSESSMENTS
Assessing risk in deploying a cloud strategy is imperative when making informed decisions. However, many of the engineering and risk management processes in use today are rooted in Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), Department of Defense, and even NASA practices. Though long-standing, many of these legacy processes may not include risk management activities that address cloud concerns.
Over the last several years, multiple cloud-based standards have emerged to help define risk assessment for cloud. Audit procedures such as SOC2 help cloud service providers demonstrate, maintain, and comply with industry best practices. When performing a risk assessment, organizations should ask vendors about audits and compliance measures to ensure the vendor protects and appropriately manages the data.
Beyond data protection, an organization must understand how storing data in the cloud impacts their users’ workflows.This is especially relevant to teams who rely on large-group collaboration on a single piece of content whether it is something simple like a document or slideshow, or more complex like a detailed product design or task that requires immense data transfer between the user’s machines and the cloud. No matter how great the “infinite compute” of the cloud is, users will be limited by their bandwidth. Utilize key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to the cloud paradigm—such as cost and ROI—for the most effective assessment.
STEP 2: DEVELOP A PILOT STUDY
Individuals and organizations can’t change habits or processes overnight. Large-scale organizations are more likely to adopt changes if they can understand tangible benefits first, preferably without disrupting existing operations.
Once determining that a cloud provider’s solution is compliant and will protect from risk, organize a realistic pilot study to understand how new technology incorporates into the organization and provides value. If the technology can deliver as expected during the pilot program—and, more importantly, is utilized properly—then the results will speak for themselves.
Just as with the risk assessment, evaluating a new cloud technology using criteria designed for on-premise solutions provides inaccurate and incomplete results. Companies need the correct tools and a modern mindset to see the benefits. The service provider can help an organization identify the appropriate criteria to understand the solution’s impacts company-wide.
STEP 3: TRAIN THE WORKFORCE
The learning curve associated with a new tool can be steep if a company doesn’t properly prepare for training and onboarding. Compared to familiar legacy processes, flipping to a new paradigm can be challenging both for the trainer and the learner.
But just like any enterprise-level software implementation, service providers are happy to provide information and training to help the customer hit the ground running. The provider can supply the knowledge transfer to your company, and your company can use that information to initiate their own training programs within.
HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH A CLOUD-BASED SOLUTION
Transforming a company into a cloud-powered enterprise suited to Industry 4.0 is no small task, even if it promises to make life easier and offer more value downstream. It all boils down to education, not just in terms of convincing companies to move away from legacy practices, but also in ensuring that stakeholders know what to expect once they have accepted the benefits of the cloud.
When evaluating a SaaS solution, consider the long-term benefits and risks associated with using that solution so you can make a reasonable, data-driven decision on if and how that solution will benefit your company. Evaluating SaaS solutions is no different than looking at partnering with an external company to manage a given process, and you should look at with the same rigor as any other relationship a company might make. You also want to trust the people at the SaaS solution and know that they have process in place to support the usage of their solution and that the relationship will be mutually beneficial.
The cloud is here to stay, helping organizations stay competitive and relevant. I encourage all organizations – from engineering and manufacturing, to education and healthcare: forge new partnerships, train your people, educate yourselves against security risks, and use the knowledge of your service providers as much as possible.