I’ve never attended an Open Group event before, but apparently interactive customer requirements workshops are part of what they do. We’re doing a business scenario workshop to gather requirements for cloud computing, led by Terry Blevins of MITRE, also on the board of the Open Group. The goal is to capture real business requirements, with the desired outcome to have the vendors understand and respond to customers’ needs. The context presented for this is a call to action for cloud vendors to develop and adhere to open standards, and we were tasked with considering the following questions:
- What are the pain points and ramifications of not addressing the pain points, relative to cloud computing?
- What are the key processes that would take advantage of cloud computing?
- What are the desired objectives of handling/addressing the pain points?
- Who are the human actors and their roles?
- What are the major computer actors and their roles?
- What are the known needs that cloud computing must fulfill to help improve the processes?
We started with brainstorming on the pain points: in the context of cloud computing, given my critical use of Google Apps and Amazon S3, I found myself contributing as an end user. My key pain point (or it was, before I solved it) was the risk of losing data in a physical disaster such as fire/flood/theft and the need for offsite backup. There were a ton of other pain points:
- Security – one person stated that their security is better since moving to cloud applications
- Sizing and capacity
- Flexibility in bundling and packaging their own products for selling
- Complex development environments
- Pressure to reduce capital investments
- Operating costs
- Ineffective support
- Functional alignment to business needs
- Need to align IT with business
- Cost of physical space and energy (including green concerns)
- Cost of failure discourages innovation
- Compliance standards
- Difficulties in governance and management
- Incremental personnel costs as applications are added
- Infrastructure startup cost barrier
- Time to get solutions to market
- Hard to separate concerns
- Operational risk of using old equipment
- Resource sharing across organizations
- No geographic flexibility/location independence
- Training cost and time
- Loss of control by users provisioning cloud resources on their own
- No access to new technology
- Dependency on a few key individuals to maintain systems
- Being stifled by in-house IT departments
- Need to understand the technology in order to use it
- Do-it-yourself in-house solutions
- Lack of integrated, well-managed infrastructure
- Overhead of compliance requirements, particularly in multinational context
- Long time to market
- Disposal costs of decommissioned systems
- Cost of help desk
- Legal/goodwill implications of security breaches
- Can’t leverage latest ideas
This is a rough list thrown out by audience members, but certainly lots of pain here. This was consolidated into 9 categories:
- Resource optimization
- Business continuity (arguably, this is part of risk)
- Inability to innovate
- Quality of IT
Things then got even more participatory: we all received 9 post-it notes, giving us 9 votes for these categories in order to collaboratively set priorities on them. We could cast all of our votes for one category, vote once for each category, or anything in between; this is intended to be from our own perspective, not our customers or what we feel is best for enterprises in general. For me, the key issues are business continuity and security, so I cast three votes for each. Cost is also important, so I gave it two votes, and timeliness got one vote. I’ve seen this same voting technique used before, but never with so much ensuing confusion over what to do. Blevins pointed out that it sometimes works better to hand out (fake) money, since people understand that that they’re assigning value to the ideas if they’re dividing up the money between them.
The three winners were 1, 2, and 3 from the original list, which (no surprise) translate to better, cheaper and fast. The voting fell out as follows:
|Category||# of votes|
|Inability to innovate||29|
|Quality of IT||16|
Great session, and some really good input gathered.