ATN is a company that provides network equipment to telecommunications industries across the globe. Over the years, ATN has grown considerably and their product portfolio has expanded to accommodate several acquisitions, including companies that specialize in infrastructure components for Internet, GSM, and cellular providers. ATN is now a leading supplier of a diverse range of telecommunications infrastructure.
In recent years, market pressure has been increasing. ATN has begun looking for ways to increase its competitiveness and efficiency by taking advantage of new technologies, especially those that can assist in cost reduction.
Technical Infrastructure and Environment
ATN’s various acquisitions have resulted in a highly complex and heterogeneous IT landscape. A cohesive consolidation program was not applied to the IT environment after each acquisition round, resulting in similar applications running concurrently and an increase in maintenance costs. In 2010, ATN merged with a major European telecommunications supplier, adding another applications portfolio to its inventory. The IT complexity snowballed into a serious obstruction and became a source of critical concern to ATN’s board of directors.
Business Goals and New Strategy
ATN management decided to pursue a consolidation initiative and outsource applications maintenance and operations overseas. This lowered costs but unfortunately did not address their overall operational inefficiency. Applications still had overlapping functions that could not be easily consolidated. It eventually became apparent that outsourcing was insufficient as consolidation became a possibility only if the architecture of the entire IT landscape changed.
As a result, ATN decided to explore the potential of adopting cloud computing. However, subsequent to their initial inquiries they became overwhelmed by the plenitude of cloud providers and cloud-based products.
Roadmap and Implementation Strategy
ATN is unsure of how to choose the right set of cloud computing technologies and vendors—many solutions appear to still be immature and new cloud-based offerings continue to emerge in the market.
A preliminary cloud computing adoption roadmap is discussed to address a number of key points:
IT Strategy – The adoption of cloud computing needs to promote optimization of the current IT framework, and produce both lower short-term investments and consistent long-term cost reduction.
Business Benefits – ATN needs to evaluate which of the current applications and IT infrastructure can leverage cloud computing technology to achieve the desired optimization and cost reductions. Additional cloud computing benefits such as greater business agility, scalability, and reliability need to be realized to promote business value.
Technology Considerations – Criteria need to be established to help choose the most appropriate cloud delivery and deployment models and cloud vendors and products.
Cloud Security – The risks associated with migrating applications and data to the cloud must be determined.
ATN fears that they might lose control over their applications and data if entrusted to cloud providers, leading to incompliance with internal policies and telecom market regulations. They also wonder how their existing legacy applications would be integrated into the new cloud-based domain.
To define a succinct plan of action, ATN hires an independent IT consulting company called CloudEnhance, who are well recognized for their technology architecture expertise in the transition and integration of cloud computing IT resources. CloudEnhance consultants begin by suggesting an appraisal process comprised of five steps:
A brief evaluation of existing applications to measures factors, such as complexity, business-criticality, usage frequency, and number of active users. The identified factors are then placed in a hierarchy of priority to help determine the most suitable candidate applications for migration to a cloud environment.
A more detailed evaluation of each selected application using a proprietary assessment tool.
The development of a target application architecture that exhibits the interaction between cloud-based applications, their integration with ATN’s existing infrastructure and legacy systems, and their development and deployment processes.
The authoring of a preliminary business case that documents projected cost savings based on performance indicators, such as cost of cloud readiness, effort for application transformation and interaction, ease of migration and implementation, and various potential long-term benefits.
The development of a detailed project plan for a pilot application.
ATN proceeds with the process and resultantly builds its first prototype by focusing on an application that automates a low-risk business area. During this project ATN ports several of the business area’s smaller applications that were running on different technologies over to a PaaS platform. Based on positive results and feedback received for the prototype project, ATN decides to embark on a strategic initiative to garner similar benefits for other areas of the company.
Answer the following questions in a substantive manner:
What drove ATN to consider using cloud computing?
Was cloud computing the right option for ATN considering their services and products? Why or why not?
What are some of the concerns that ATN has about cloud computing and are they justified? Why?