Talking today about Nimbus.  Hey, don't freak out!  We are only talking about the cloud.  One of the most frequent questions we are asked about the cloud, and specifically Azure, is the standard “What's in it for me?”  While this is a good question, the only answer that is consistently accurate is “It depends… why do you want to use the cloud?”  Any other easy answer is most likely marketing fluff.

The journey to the cloud can have many varying levels of value or pain, depending on what you want to use it for. This evolution is more akin to adopting an abstract custom platform or a new IT mindset than it is the implementation of a single product with a single defined value. Given the varying products, services, and capabilities the answers to this golden question could vary dramatically.

Here's Nimbus

Our Azure Accelerator program, “Nimbus” attempts to understand your motivations or why you are considering the cloud. During the course of this readiness assessment, we first try to answer an alternate question of is any Cloud (Public, Private, Azure, Amazon, or others) actually a good fit for your organization. We then leverage our three-day assessment & readiness process to answer the golden question of business value. In many cases, this question also requires a series of one or more short POCs to fully answer that question.

Readiness Assessment

The rest of this article conveys our approach during the readiness assessment as an example of how you can leverage this approach to evaluate the value of the cloud in your organization. Any feedback on this process is greatly appreciated. Please feel free to use the comments section below thoughts or questions.

Determining Cloud Value

During our assessment process, we start with your vision for the Cloud. We then work to frame this vision within an executive level conversation which focuses on 4 key areas that help us evaluate cloud options that may make sense:

  • Business Drivers: Those high-level business objectives that you would like the Cloud to advance; Meeting customer needs, Enable Innovation, Speed & Agility, Reducing Costs or Complexity, etc…
  • Applications & Services: Those key IT Services that could possibly be deployed to the cloud to advance business objectives; BI, CMS, Desktops, Productivity, E-Comm, the line of business applications, etc…
  • Key Attributes: Those properties of a provider that is important to you; Continuity, Elasticity, Security, Mobility
  • Constraints: Limiters that may prevent cloud adoption; Security, Compliance, Risk, Ability to Change, etc…

Armed with this information, we dig into a portfolio whiteboarding where we attempt to understand the basic constructs (Tech architecture & Business Value) of your IT portfolio and gauge the scale of your current IT infrastructure in terms of raw servers, desktops, supporting team size, etc…

Architectural Effort

Using Oakwood's Nimbus framework, our architects evaluate a variety of solutions that would meet the client's key objectives. These solutions are compared to the current state systems to identify pros, cons, technical roadblocks and a gap analysis for each solution. It then applies TCO standards within a variety of industries and the market as a whole to estimate cost savings and the TCO of each potential solution. While based on industry standards, it does present a solid gauge of comparative costs from one solution to another.

Output of the Nimbus Framework

Once the data is aggregated and processed, the following types of outputs are available to help refine a corporate Cloud strategy and answer the question: “What's in it for me?”

Those outputs are as follows:

  • High-Level Workload-Portfolio Alignment
  • Financial Estimates * All Financial Estimates comply to Forrester's TEI methodology
  • Technology Maturity Gaps
  • Industry Relevant Cloud Services (Not pictured) includes suggesting cloud services related to Business, Infrastructure, & Productivity solutions

Combine these outputs answer the various aspects of that question and help determine ways the cloud could increase technical focus & agility, realign your portfolio for maximum optimization, possible services that could augment or replace current workloads, & various costs savings associated with each of these solutions.

Sample Outputs

The remainder of this post demonstrates and describes samples of the output of this process.

High-Level Workload-Portfolio Alignment

One version of a cloud-integrated future state for your IT portfolio. The following is a sample output based on inputs from a customer & molded to fit their vision for Cloud utilization.


Financial Estimates:

Financial Estimates compare costs & TCO based on industry standards across various approaches to the cloud:

Projected Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) over 3 years SAMPLE ONLY
On-PremisesPrivateService ProviderMicrosoft CloudHybrid
Savings/(Loss) over On-Premises Ownership – SAMPLE ONLY
Return on Investment (ROI) over 3 years – SAMPLE ONLY
Shows the ROI of moving from On-Premises to each cloud type
PrivateService ProviderMicrosoft CloudHybrid

Technology Maturity Gaps:

Gaps in the technical maturity of each solution, as well as, pros & cons of each potential approach.

Technology Maturity Gaps – SAMPLE ONLY
Private CloudService ProviderMicrosoft CloudHybrid
3 CoreIO
2 CoreIO
3 CoreIO
0 CoreIO
2 CoreIO
3 CoreIO
0 CoreIO


* FORRESTER COMPLIANCE STATEMENT: Microsoft commissioned Forrester Consulting to review the methodology, assumptions, and calculations of the underlying ROI/TCO analysis using its proprietary Total Economic Impact ™ methodology. Forrester Consulting deems that the underlying analysis conforms to the TEI fundamentals and principles of a sound business case. See the section “Forrester Compliance Statement” at the end of the analysis report document for information on the compliance statement and disclaimers, and disclosures.

Next Steps

Review our case studies and engagements where we helped companies just like yours solve a variety of business needs.

About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong.

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