It is no secret, everyone is thinking & talking about cloud computing and how it is transforming businesses and lives, coming with a strong push from the largest technology research firms to the biggest technology vendors. To a great extent this is true, right from watching the latest movie on itunes to our official emails. However when it comes to enterprise infrastructure, applications and platforms the story takes a different turn altogether, why shouldn’t it ? right ?

In this blog post, we will help you understand different perspectives coming from government & commercial entities, technology research firms like Gartner, Forrester, IDC & technology vendors in and around the world. We hope these insights, observations and the challenges around cloud computing in the emerging markets region will help you consider some critical points, before making the much awaited move to the ‘Cloud’ partially or completely. Answer some of your burning questions such as, Is our enterprise ready for the cloud ? What are the trade-offs ? and does the cloud add value to the objectives and goals of your enterprise as per your expectations ?

Meeting Federal Security Requirements & Government Regulations: Governments across emerging markets are working towards understanding different dimensions associated to the cloud such as usage, pricing, data, privacy and security. However creating an all-rounded robust policy of what’s allowed and what’s not specific to an individual entity and overall nation-wide cloud strategy, will take some more years to come, as it is a continuous learning process.

Almost all government organizations in the region have strict data related policies, which restrict them to float any data out of the country from a security and privacy standpoint, which brings the discussion to involvements of local telco’s collaborating with the government and building private clouds physically present in the region.

“It is worthwhile considering how mature are the Local Infrastructure, Security & Application Providers from the region to create physical private clouds as per your expectations and beliefs”

Specific piece of advice for government, semi government & financial institutions is to watch governmental policies on data, security & hosting very carefully and have them written down as a part of your cloud computing contracts with vendors and system integrators, this will help you de-risk the project and make more cautious decisions around your cloud initiative. This will also open up discussions with the technology firms involved in your projects and will help you understand the situation far better.

Obtaining Specific Talent & Skills: Your enterprise, not necessarily have the tools or resources, such as expertise among staff, to implement cloud solutions. Cloud computing requires a very different set of skill sets & mind-set over traditional IT, irrespective of the physical presence of the cloud in the region or outside of the region. Both Government & Commercial entities CIO’s will need to attract very specific talent & skills from inside or outside the region to sustain this change. This change of course comes with a cost and time imperative to acquire the right people at the right time. Which can either be addressed by outsourcing, contractual & permanent hiring. Based on your organizations hiring, recruitment & human resource policies this call can be made, where by a very tight alignment is required between the human resource and IT departments, since you might be acquiring skills that have never been acquired before in your organization.

“Aligning your IT’s human capital & new organizational structure requirements to this change is the key”

Certifying and Verifying Vendors on Security, Data & Service: Many organizations in the emerging markets who have decided to join the cloud revolution, are currently facing challenges around verifying technology vendors and their respective system integrators specially when it comes to security of data & service level agreements on up-time and response times to resolve issues in cases of business emergencies. Where by a specific internal skill set, individual or a team is required to check if the vendors meet the quality standards for security, data & service.

“Make sure, your enterprise & the IT Team understands SLA’s pertaining to Security, Data & Cloud Services Levels, if not you should employ or contract at least one internal resource to learn the specifics”

Ensuring Data Portability and Inter-operability: For end user clients, you should be in a position to preserve the ability to change vendors in the future, clients should make sure they are not “Locked” on certain products, platforms and technologies, which might make it difficult to switch or extract their own data in the future in case, you decide to move to other technologies and platforms over the years.

For example, a semi-government entity’s official in Saudi Arabia explained that it is very challenging for them to separate from a large vendor, simply because of a lack of visibility into the vendor’s infrastructure and the inability to change contractual terms for the future.

“Your legal and technology contracts should be aligned, when procuring cloud computing services and products, make sure you have the flexibility to change these contracts at least in the next 1-3 years, till you are comfortable enough to have a long term commitment.”

Overcoming Cultural & Mind-Set Barriers: One of the largest challenge is that organizations in emerging markets along with other emerging markets may act as an obstacle to implement & deploy cloud solutions. For the simple fact that irrespective of the NDA’s & SLA’s if any critical public or client information leak has no tangible value associated to the contracts, which makes it even more difficult to measure the tarnishing of the enterprise brand, loss of business and most importantly loss of trust in your organization.

“Your enterprise should deploy certain measurable metrics associated with the vendors as a part of the contract, in case of such an event. An audit & check process should be in place, which needs to be taken very seriously on an ongoing basis based on your business and operations.”

Understanding Pricing of Services & products on a consumption (on-demand) Basis: One of the great advantages of having cloud solutions is hidden in the business model of on-demand, scalable nature of cloud services. However it can at times be difficult to define specific quantities and costs in a given time, which makes the contracting and budgeting for IT, Finance & Procurement departments difficult because of the fluctuating costs associated with scalability of cloud services.

“A good way to counter this challenge, is to allocate your operating expenditures based on each years consumption, to do so it becomes even more critical to understand the demand coming from the business / operations on a quarterly basis to avoid any bitter experiences & service disruptions in the future with your vendors and partners.”

We can conclude that there has been significant progress in implementing cloud systems in the emerging markets, however to be successful in reaping the benefits of the cloud, as a client enterprise the onus lies on you and no one else. To make sure, that you do it right the first time, decisions should be made very carefully in validating, procuring, deploying and integrating cloud solutions in your enterprise.

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