IT transition is never easy. The move from mainframes to desktops caused friction; the trend away from workstations to mobile devices remains problematic for many companies. And now many enterprises face their largest transition challenge: Moving to the cloud. Some, such as the United States Department of Defense (DOD) are looking for outside help to find the best cloud solution, but is there a better way to streamline this move?

Not As Advertised

As noted by a recent ITBusinessEdge article, companies are struggling with cloud transition. Almost half of all companies that launched a cloud strategy in the past year have now halted hosting implementations, with 70 percent of these companies citing the need for a design change. More telling, perhaps, is that just 27 percent of those asked said they were “extremely satisfied” with their cloud vendor. So where’s the disconnect between cloud promises and reality?

There are two factors at work. First is the specter of initial migration. If companies take on too much, too soon or don’t effectively educate front-line workers, the results can range from dragged-out deployments to cloud services purchased but never used. There’s also the issue of cost savings and resource efficiency, often heralded as keystone benefits of moving to the cloud. If companies provision too many resources or allow users to create “cloud sprawl,” ROI can quickly suffer. Neglecting add-on tools like load-balancing and automated shutdown features, meanwhile, can limit the process-slimming promises that often attract cloud interest.

Solving For “X”

According to Defense Systems, the DOD is trying to solve this problem by “cloudsourcing” its transition. The idea here is to ask multiple commercial providers for their opinions and insight and then have them develop cloud services in line with an agreed-upon set of security standards. The model is gaining ground among private enterprises as well, many of which now prefer to contract specific cloud vendors to supply unique services rather than opting for a catch-all cloud provider. But there’s a catch: While this may provide services better tailored to business needs, it can complicate the problem of transition, since each vendor comes with unique implementation requirements.

Understanding the Impact

Cloud services can’t be ignored, and the growing specificity of deployments means that companies face the prospect of transition and transformation challenges on a regular basis. Smoothing this transition requires better information; data about how end-users are interacting with cloud services, using resources and the types of dependencies that exist between applications. What’s more, this all has to happen in real time, since it doesn’t take long for a cloud deployment to get rough around the edges and impact total quality of service (QoS).

Simply put? Companies can’t help but transition to the cloud, even if it’s at small scale. But little changes can have big impacts, especially when cloud-based services both connect with and depend on resources beyond your control. By understanding the impact on end-users — and gaining valuable data about how they interact with the cloud — companies can better weather the storm of transformation.