Adding cloud to your IT outsourcing contract? Here’s where to begin

IBM cloud icon“…a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” —Lao Tzu  

What would the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu know about helping companies that outsource IT move to the cloud?  It turns out quite a bit.

Lao Tzu’s observation that every journey must begin with a single step offers sage advice for companies that have yet to incorporate cloud into their outsourcing contracts.

But what should that first step be?

(Click to enlarge) Cloud Bound Study -
(Click to enlarge) Cloud Bound Study –

Last fall, our Cloud Bound study chronicled five “rules of the road” from forward-leaning CIOs and leaders who have implemented cloud services with their outsourcing providers:

  1. Know your traveling partners well
  2. Protect your passengers
  3. Keep everyone on course
  4. Chart the itinerary together
  5. Plan for arrival
Hector Hernandez, IBM Cloud Expert and author of
Hector Hernandez, IBM Cloud Expert and author of “You Don’t Need Talent to Succeed” (Image credit:

To find out more about how companies typically start these journeys, I spoke with Hector Hernandez, an IBM cloud expert and IT veteran with 30-plus years of experience. Hector has traveled the world, working with companies of all sizes on transforming their businesses through cloud, business process management and service oriented architecture.

When working with his clients, Hector suggests they begin by identifying a single promising workload or application for cloud deployment and mapping out stakeholder and provider requirements, including:

Operational requirements: What are the characteristics of the application or workload and how will it run in the cloud? What are the right levels of standardization? How will this impact governance and corporate culture? How does it inform service level agreements? How will they be met?

Operational responsibilities: What processes are to be managed and who will manage them? For example, how will backups be handled? Who will handle patch management, intrusion detection, etc.?

Security policies and practices: It’s not enough just to understand who’s responsible for security. Companies need to confirm what specific security policies are needed and how outsourcing providers will handle these requirements in the cloud. Hector recommends that companies focus on three key elements in their conversations with outsourcing providers—users, network and data—and understand how each will be secured in the cloud.

Fully exploring requirements for a specific workload or application helps companies ask outsourcing providers the right questions, uncover security risks, prepare for transitions and identity any gaps.

Putting one foot in front of the other

One step, or in this case, one application or workload, can quickly lead to another and another. Hector shared a story of chemical company executives who struggled to identify a path forward with cloud. After meeting with some early adopters, the chemical company executives initiated their journey with a single workload. Success with that workload quickly led to a second and then a third workload. Their journey is now well on the way thanks to one small step.

To learn more, you can listen to my full interview with Hector or read more about the five rules of the road in “Cloud bound: Advice from organizations in outsourcing relationships.”

And stay tuned to the IBM Center for Applied Insight blog for advice and stories from companies who have traveled this road already.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s