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10 Dos and Don'ts for Running Proof-of-Concept Projects in the Cloud

DosdontsWith cloud computing increasing its popularity, more and more enterprise IT and development teams are looking to run proof-of-concept projects. Very often though such projects do not deliver results as expected and project managers come back to the leadership teams with either: "We are not ready for the cloud!" or "It will be too expensive to move our applications to the cloud!" However the problem doesn't necessary lie in the cloud or the application portfolio. Most of the times it is in the way the project is scoped and managed. 

 

Here are few DOs and DON'Ts for managing proof-of-concept projects in the cloud.

 

DOs

  • Make a decision what type of cloud options you will evaluate - from a service model point of view and from deployment point of view. If you are going to evaluate private PaaS options try to compare those only to private PaaS providers. Using the well known cliche compare only apples to apples.
  • Clearly define the terminology for the whole project team. For example something that one company calls PaaS may be considered IaaS or just a stack automation by another vendor. You need to have your own definition of PaaS, IaaS, stack automation tools and any other terminology that you will use.
  • Choose only vendors that fit your definition. After you clearly define and socialize what you will be evaluating you need to choose vendors that offer solutions that fit you your definition. 
  • Select application that will be easily migrated to the cloud. Quite often teams select their most complex application but the problem with this is that such applications are very often implemented with legacy technologies and most of the time gets spend on re-architecting the application instead learning what the cloud has to offer.
  • Set clear goals and timeframe for the PoC. You need to be clear what problems you want the cloud to solve for you. Whether it is agility and time-to-market, or efficiency and ease of infrastructure management you need to get the whole project team to agree upon. Next, make sure the project is time-boxed and properly managed to come up with meaningful results.

 

DON'Ts

  • Don not rule out particular technology because you are not familiar with it or it is too new. One of the goals of the PoC should be to become familiar with the technology. In addition new technology may solve more problems for you than you have initially anticipated.
  • Do not select too many vendors. Choose only the best 2 or 3 vendors in the category you want to evaluate else you may fall into analysis-paralysis and not be able to choose among the variety of options you have. In addition the PoC will run longer the more vendors you have.
  • Do not migrate multiple applications as part of the PoC. Migrating one application should be enough for you to learn what the effort is and become familiar with the technology or the vendor. Migrating more than one application is investment that you may not stick with after the PoC.
  • Do not extend the length of the PoC. Even if you think that you will be able to migrate your complex application to the cloud if you extend the PoC with another month it is better to cut the scope instead. The reasons are that 1. you have already learned that you will need more time to migrate your applications to the cloud and 2. extending the PoC postpones the decision and moves you further away from the ultimate goal to get everybody on-board.
  • Last but not least do not make decision that is heavily tailored to the needs of one team. If the PoC is a cross-team effort (IT, DEV, Business) then all three teams should have equal saying on the technology. If one of the teams targets additional goals they can evaluate technology that easily integrates with the chosen one and offers complementary benefits.

 

Making a technology decision has always been tough choice hence having a structured approach to the problem can help you make the decisions faster and last longer.

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More Stories By Toddy Mladenov

Toddy Mladenov has more than 15 years experience in software development and technology consulting at companies like Microsoft, SAP and 3Com. Currently he is a CTO of Agitare Technologies, Inc. - a boutique consulting company that specializes in Cloud Computing and Big Data Solutions. Before Agitare Tech Toddy spent few years with PaaS startup Apprenda and more than six years working on Microsft's cloud computing platform Windows Azure, Windows Client and MSN/Windows Live. During his career at Microsoft he managed different aspects of the software development process for Windows Azure and Windows Services. He also evangelized Microsoft cloud services among open source communities like PHP and Java. In the past he developed enterprise software for German's software giant SAP and several startups in Europe, and managed the technical sales for 3Com in the Balkan region.

With his broad industry experience, international background and end-user point of view Toddy has an unique approach towards technology. He believes that technology should be develop to improve people's lives and is eager to share his knowledge in topics like cloud computing, mobile and web development.

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