AIIM’s Real World Cloud Strategy


This morning I was on a call with a vendor. Doesn’t matter who it was. Suffice it to say they wanted to sell me IT services of some kind. The conversation was quite similar to conversations I’ve had over the past six months.

Vendor: I’d like to talk to you about X.

Me: No thanks. I’m getting out of that business, moving everything to the cloud.

Vendor: Oh? Who is your provider?

Me: We are taking different approaches based upon the application needs. [Some examples here.] If something changes I’ll be sure to give you a call.

It is amazing that they all think that going to the cloud is a one vendor style of approach. This leaves me wondering, are a lot of people taking that approach? Why?

AIIM’s Approach

When I arrived at AIIM in January the directive was clear, Close the data center by the end of the year. In reality, it meant by Thanksgiving because I had to have time to clear out the hardware.

Since then, the dictate has changed to As-Soon-As-Possible (ASAP). The reason is that the space will remain but we want to re-purpose the space for something besides servers. What this has done is allow me to make the end of the year a soft deadline, pushing one or two applications back a quarter to allow more consideration on the correct approach.

Still, everything must go. Anything new has to be cloud-based by default. The LAST thing I want to do is install a new application and migrate it a few months later.

imageSo what are we doing? A sampling of our major systems, giving you a flavor:

  • Our new Association Management System (AMS): SaaS/Managed Service hybrid. It is architected like a Managed Service but on all the critical SaaS definitions, it measures up.
  • Our email/calendar tools: SaaS, one vendor.
  • Collaboration/Content Management: SaaS, two vendors.
  • Our website: Moving to a hosting provider that specializes in hosting our Content Management System (CMS).

For everything else, a similar mix to the above. A few systems are still to be determined as we have a couple extra months to finalize our needs and evaluate options. I’ve determined that there is no need to burn my staff out without a pressing business reason.

Why the Party Mix?

Why not take the same approach for every system? Simply put, each application’s cloud decision is being driven by different business needs.

  • For the AMS, it is a new solution so an open, SaaS-like system was required. The goal was to make it accessible from every system with minimal IT support required.
  • For our email system, the goal was keeping the migration and user transition as seamless as possible.
  • For our collaboration and CMS, it was all about expediency. We weren’t looking to dramatically improve what we were doing, just move it offsite. We could definitely improve our productivity but not at the expense of other efforts.
  • As for our website, we want control but don’t want to manage the infrastructure anymore. This is leading us to more of a hosting option.

The individual applications are being dealt with in a manner that best meets the needs of the business. For each system, we measure the market, business criticality, level of required control, and how the solutions can inter-operate.

We are getting away from being technicians and move to being knowledge workers for the business. We don’t want to have to pay staff to keep systems operational 24/7.

Our move to the cloud isn’t about saving money. It is about moving IT’s efforts from providing support for the technology to providing support for the members of AIIM.

Or to put it succinctly: Moving to the Cloud is being done for the Business, not IT.

3 thoughts on “AIIM’s Real World Cloud Strategy

    • I haven’t researched heavily. Been busy which has limited my networking. I do know that in the Federal Govt, when they consider their responses to the Cloud-First initiative, they are typically tackling things one application at a time, focusing on new procurements.

      The reality is that SaaS is great for commoditized features. After that, every move is a trade-off. I have multiple business reasons for closing my data center so I’m being forced to find answers for each application. I can’t wait for every application to reach maturity in the SaaS world, so we are moving forward as best we can. If I had much more time, I’d likely serialize my efforts a bit more and do the following:

      – New systems go into the cloud.
      – Easy to migrate systems that had good SaaS solutions would move to the cloud.
      – After the easy ones, we’d start broadening the cloud answers.

      I general, I’d take a 2 year approach instead of my 1-1.5 year approach. Larger organizations would likely need closer to 3-5 years to make sure that so much wasn’t changing that it was impossible to track.

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