Cloud computing is rapidly changing the way both IT and the business work. It is no longer a “should we” question, it is a “when are we” question. Companies are interested in outsourced (“public”) cloud offerings in order to reduce costs and increase business agility. Yes ,there are potential risks which must be addressed. Cloud computing conclusions must be joint between business and IT decision makers. Key players need to define business service requirements first and then decide how to balance the use of internal IT resources and external public offerings. This decision-making process must include the main players, which includes the director of Supply Chain Management.
Global business requires a very “connected” atmosphere: numerous time zones; 24X7; instant access to products, markets, customers, competitors; and costs need to be controlled too. The Internet and mobile computing allow virtual organizations to work together anywhere/ anytime. Management wants to see: more innovation; speedier IT project delivery; better access to information. Priority of IT projects are driven by business requirements. This makes the traditional “build it yourself” approach the wrong way to go. It is just not agile enough. Cloud computing means quicker and cheaper ramp-up of applications and services. Enough said, it is time to act.
Now lets get down to business. You, the senior Supply Chain Manager, is on the team that will select a service provider (hopefully for the extended enterprise). Let's make a high-level list of selection criteria:
(1) Experience Record of the Provider
How long in the business? Reputation? Do all the normal checks you would for any new vendor. Their security policy, like who has access to their facility. Are they familiar with regulatory requirements in countries you operate in?
Can they ramp up quickly if your business suddenly spikes? Will it be cost-effective when they do?
(3) Geographic Presence
Do they have physical locations in geographically dispersed areas? Remember Hurricane Sandy? Well Amazon and Google didn't even blink, but lots of others did. They may also need several centers because of local regulatory requirements.
(4) Data Recovery
Must be automatic, simple and well-managed. Moving data to redundant centers is a “must”. What are the procedures for a single file? For an entire site?
(5) Configuration must be Flexible
How good are they at handling on-premises, Cloud-based and hybrid scenarios? You are looking for all kinds of options ahead of time. What are their backup and archiving options?