Project Management in the Cloud


Cloud computing is today the Next Big Thing in technology. It holds the promise of an omnipresent, flexible and dynamic computer power as available and easy to use as electricity. Does this new computing paradigm pose new challenges to us, the IT project managers though?

Expectations are sky-high. Cloud services must be fast, elastic, secure and cost efficient. This is the future of computing and it must be perfect, right? We just plug in and get what we need.

Well, this is a hard call. A lot must happen behind the scene before we can reach such state of transparency and user friendliness of the service. And while technology solutions and automated processes can be standardized and designed to deliver as required, the real challenge comes when people are involved and when they need to perform non-routine tasks. Now we are talking projects.

Cloud projects can be divided into three general types: Migration into the cloud, Change of the cloud services consumed, and service De-provisioning – moving out of the cloud. Of these three the first one – Migration – is usually the most challenging and resource consuming, so let’s explore it. One example of such a project is when one organization wants to migrate from traditional in-house IT infrastructure to third-party hosted cloud services.

The three general types of cloud projects apply to all types of cloud services which can be: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Business Process as a Service (BPaaS).

What are the specifics of cloud migration projects? Cloud projects are:

–      Complex – from both business and technical perspective. Unlike traditional IT projects, much of the customer organization would be involved in the cloud project. Many people may even not anticipate the range of efforts needed to migrate from traditional IT infrastructure to cloud.

–      Time sensitive – this comes from the expectation that everything in the cloud will happen at the blink of the eye.

–      Virtual – when sourcing computing power from all over the world, we can hardly expect that the cloud project teams will be co-located.

How to make sure our cloud projects do not become cloudy? Methodology for this new type of projects is still to come; there is not much track record in that either. To be successful we the project managers should appreciate the specifics of the cloud projects, stake on proven project management best practices, and… be ready to overcome challenges creatively. After all it is so exciting to be shaping the future!

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