Step 2: Evaluation

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Some of the main risks of cloud computing were described, and Chapter 5 provided tips on vendor selection, but before disregarding internal IT solutions you should ensure that you understand the true costs and benefits of cloud-based alternatives. And make sure you fully understand the problem you identified in Step 1 before you choose a solution.

Requirements gathering

Once you have selected a problem to solve you need to gather more detailed, measurable and testable requirements for a solution. You can start by consulting a limited number of relevant operational, technical and management staff, along with any other relevant stakeholders, including customers and suppliers, if appropriate. Discuss the details of the proposed project with these stakeholders and document their combined wish list for features, functionality and process improvements. What will the solution do in functional terms (create invoices, for example) and what will its key characteristics be in non-functional terms (regulatory compliance, for example)? Create a checklist of these functional and non-functional requirements in spreadsheet form and consider assigning a priority to each according to the MoSCoW method, where:

M = must have this;
S = should have this if at all possible;
C = could have this if it does not affect anything else;
W = won’t have this time, but would like in the future.

As for characteristics, document for each requirement a clear description, the rationale behind it, the ‘owner’ and the beneficiaries. And make sure that all stakeholders sign off on the requirements documentation. Now, armed with a spreadsheet you are in a position to compare different solutions to your problem. Are there any cloud computing
services that meet your needs?

Costing clouds

If your business is small with no formal information controls or compliance obligations then the internal costs of procuring cloud services are relatively low. But if you represent a large organization you may have information governance, risks and compliance to worry about so your solution evaluation costs will be higher due to the necessary involvement of your internal security and legal teams. There may also be training and documentation costs if a new IT system is to be implemented. So when you calculate the costs of cloud computing make sure you factor in your associated internal costs as well as your estimated service consumption costs.

Cloud testing

In the case of Infrastructure or Platform as a Service your IT team will be able to test the features, functionality and
performance of these systems and report back. As for Software as a Service, ask some of your operational staff to test the applications, and try them yourself, too, while your IT team tests performance levels. If you have not ruled out a cloud computing solution at this stage then, hopefully, one service will stand out as the best for your business.