This article was original written by me for the PM Tips website and published there on 8/13/10. To view the original article, go here.
I was trying to wrap my head around this the other day. The cloud. THE cloud. The Cloud. What does that mean? And more importantly, what does it mean for our projects? Anything in the cloud is basically a software or service being used remotely meaning you’re not running that application or storing that data at your site. You’re using a free or paid service via the internet and you’re saving yourself potentially storage space, cost, energy usage, staff, etc.
There are concerns – yes, there are concerns. Main concern – security. Any time you let your data go to outer space there has to be that concern of who can access it and if I have a disaster how fast can I recover? Really, both of these questions have to be directed at whatever service you’re utilizing as part of your cloud service provider. And that needs to be spelled out up front. Ask the tough questions – because no one cares about your needs or your data more than you. If your third party cloud provider doesn’t have a good plan documented for your data’s security or how to get you back up and running quickly in the event of a disaster – run fast the other way and find another one. Don’t wait for the disaster to happen.
But back to my original question – what does the cloud mean right now for our projects? What do we – as project managers – need to know? What do we need to be offering in terms of cloud services to our clients? We’re all interested, right?
Here’s the thing. I sat at an Interop session a couple of months ago and listened to five executives from five different companies talk about their lessons learned and difficulties moving software and services to the cloud and a funny thing happened. I realized that not one of them really had the same interpretation of what the cloud meant. And they all had issues with their implementations – some issues that they were still reeling from and having issues with now months later.
My take is – unless you’re an independent consultant guiding a client toward a project solution that involves cloud services – then you really must rely on your own IT department. If you’re hosting a customer solution then there may be some ways to utilize the cloud for data storage or software services. Or you may see – after fully understanding the customer’s internal processes – ways you can help them utilize the cloud for their internal needs. But cloud usage on projects you undertake must be guided by your own corporate IT mission and directives. Because, in reality, what ‘using the cloud’ means can be different from organization to organization and obviously from executive to executive. The concept of using the cloud as a solution in IT is still maturing and the concept what it means to everyone is still evolving and likely will be for some time to come.
As project managers, we can stay current and on top of the latest technology – that’s a good thing and we should do that. However, we must rely on our IT departments to guide how we utilize available cloud services – if we utilize them at all. On a basic level we can utilize web-based software to keep our projects in check – like Seavus’ Project Planner or Project Viewer. Beyond that, take the issues to IT and work through them for the best benefit of your organization and your customer.