I’ve covered the lack of cloud ROI here a great deal, so I don’t want to continue to harp on it. Although the opinions vary greatly on the causes, a few things are clear to me.
First, these are mostly self-inflected wounds. If the cloud did not ever have the potential to return ROI back to the business, nobody would use it. However, there are businesses that are very successful with cloud, even changing the business around the use of cloud computing. These companies are leveraging cloud as a true force multiplier to build innovative solutions, as well as to provide agility and scalability.
However, many cannot find business value with cloud computing. Most disturbing, they are not finding value while spending about the same amount of money as those who are finding value. We must therefore conclude that bad decisions are being made. Cloud computing technology has been relevant for about 15 years. We understand it’s what you do and your company culture that makes you truly successful with cloud computing, not what you spend. Why are we still seeing winners and losers?
Second, cloud computing winners are disciplined with architecture and operations. They are not looking for the solution that everyone is using, but the solution that is optimal for their use cases and the overall company vision.
They spend the time needed to evaluate existing systems, including data and applications. Then they look at the changes that need to be made over time to meet the objectives of the business. They evaluate the correct and optimal enabling technologies to achieve those objectives. Often, this is overlooked due to a lack of talent or leadership to solve these harder problems. More frequently, technology is picked based on preexisting relationships or other criteria that are not relevant to solving the ultimate business problems.
Again, success does not seem to depend on the size of the budget, an excuse I often hear. We’re seeing data where enterprises are spending about the same amounts of money, but some come up short when it comes to the value returned to the business by cloud computing.
Third, cloud operations is another point of contention when it comes to cloud ROI. First, bad architectures need to be fixed before they can operate properly. You can have a disciplined and highly automated operations team and technology stack, but if the solution is poorly designed, the result is going to be less than stellar, no matter what.
On the other hand, I also see good solutions that move to a poorly staffed cloud operations team and an underwhelming cloud operations technology stack. This leads to outages and security risks that quickly erode any value the solution may have.
Of course, there are other factors, but these are the major causes from the data we have now for business not seeing ROI.
I understand these are tough problems to solve. Fixing architectures—cloud and not-cloud—often requires major surgery and political will. However, if you’re in a hole, you should stop digging. This means coming up with better designs and thinking in terms of innovations that take your IT and cloud computing game to the next level.