Whether software development or infrastructure, the manner in which cloud computing projects are delivered is different enough to require a slightly different approach to project management. So while the same elements exist on cloud computing projects as any other, the sequence that they need to be done in is a bit jumbled up, the focus is higher on some areas than usual and additional risks present themselves. The instant availability of computing resources solves some problems, such as the dependencies on procurement and provisioning of resources, but replaced with far more legal and contractual issues that need to be managed earlier on as some sticking points may get in the way.
Moving Activities Upstream
The on demand availability of resources presents interesting opportunities to move activities, which have traditionally been downstream activities, to be moved forward. Testing on a ‘production platform’, security, billing and operational handover, which should be moved forward, reflect the areas of focus on cloud computing projects that are either glossed over or taken for granted on traditional projects. Clearly security and regulatory concerns that would normally be wrapped up in the incumbent datacentres credentials will have to be dealt with in detail, both technically as well as the management of perceptions around them. The project manager will need to spend a lot of time allaying fears, proving the solution and generally providing assurance and answers where few exist.
Dealing with New Risks
With any new set of technologies and concepts new risks emerge. The biggest risks to cloud computing projects may be non technical and may result from a senior stakeholder reading a sensationalised story about data loss in the cloud and, fearing litigation or brand negativity, wants to move the new cloud computing initiative on premise. Other risks include problems that result from vendor platform and tool immaturity, availability of skills, increased engineering costs, inability to satisfy certain requirements (such as latency), compliance issues and a whole host of other problems waiting to ambush the unsuspecting project manager.
Cloud Computing Projects Will Be Different
While vendors will go to great lengths to tell us how familiar cloud computing is to their existing offerings, things are different and, in many cases, significantly different. While project managers are equipped with the general skills to manage a cloud computing project, most project managers would not have thought about cloud computing in sufficient detail to foresee what needs to be done on the project and will manage it as he or she would manage any other project until it all falls apart. There is a need and an opportunity in the cloud computing world for project managers who at least have a conceptual understanding of the issues.
Disclaimer: This is not a complete list and good project managers are wary of advice from developers
The ‘Who Should Know About Cloud Computing’ Series
This post is part of a series of posts for non technical roles, which you can follow from the links below