If Cloud Computing is the Future, Who Owns It? Infra or Apps Group

by Punish Malhotra, Vice President - Banking & Financial Services

I was on a call recently with my colleagues and a partner, and the discussion prompted me to write this article. 

Often an organization moving forward with a Cloud transformation is focused on cost cutting by replacing the infrastructure and the operating model (including the ownership of the program) is an afterthought. But if you look at Cloud Computing holistically it's a paradigm shift, and that's where the disconnect starts. 

Cloud by itself is a fairly broad term with a suite of capabilities - SaaS, PaaS, IaaS - and every time this definition changes the ownership changes. Hence there is no straight answer to the ownership question, however I will share a blueprint which you can use for your organization to arrive at an operating model which will also define the ownership for your enterprise. 

SaaS is fairly simple. Application team is the right owner for the SaaS program. It can be a horizontal focused application or supporting a key business process within a line of business or a cloud based product like Salesforce / Workday etc. 

Where it gets tricky is when we start talking about PaaS or IaaS (for the sake of simplicity, lets keep them together) - AWS, Azure, Google Compute Engine, Redhat, Rack space etc. Typically the Cloud program is aiming to replace the existing infrastructure - at least that's where it often starts - and the initiative is run by the infrastructure teams, which makes total sense when you just think of it as data-center replacement, however when you start engaging the application / product teams to migrate, adopt and change to cloud. Hence, once the initiative is already in flight they start to ask question and everything you thought about the program was right, turns out to be wrong - operating model, objective, risks etc. And the consumer has the power and authority to say NO to the platform if it doesn't meet their requirements. 

Define the target operating model upfront, spend time and money in analysis to ensure the common architecture is supporting everyone.

If you have been in this situation already you know what I am talking about and for those who are yet to embark on this journey will go through the same, UNLESS you start from the top and engage the applications group from the beginning. Start putting together objectives and key KPIs for the program, define the target operating model upfront, spend time and money in analysis to ensure the common architecture is supporting everyone (but not necessarily everything), and clearly define the ownership of different pieces. 

Finally, you wont end up with one owner but a collaborative approach which will help you -

  • avoid resistance from apps owners and businesses 
  • support every part of the business, take you closer to your dream of creating a centralized and shared infrastructure best practices
  • alleviate risks and security concerns, help everyone achieve their KPIs, foster common tools and best practices
  • you can create that best in class operations and devops you always desired 

Cloud Programs are not about just the cost cutting by replacing DCs but they are about agility - faster time to market for client facing products or internal applications and systems to support your business.