Think of your exit strategy before you enter…

 LED Exit sign, test sku

You always have an out. An exit strategy to make sure you don’t get hurt. You always walk away. You walk away before they can walk away from you – Unknown

Over the past few days we have seen news of both Dropbox and Apple shifting their public cloud architectures. The interesting part here is that both businesses are well respected by their consumers and their public cloud was performing as planned with no major issues. The fact is that their business dynamics changed and they needed to shift their architecture in order to support future growth plans.

I find this news especially interesting because it really is an omen and a reminder to all enterprises to “look before you leap” when it comes to public cloud. These days there is a maniacal focus around quickly transforming to Digital Business and many enterprises are in a race to deliver new “Systems of Engagement” and “Systems of Intimacy” to their end consumers. In the heat of this race major architectural decisions are being made that will be borne for the next generation. In many cases some of these decisions are foundational and will require significant time, effort and risk to change should the need arise down the road. So how can an organization hedge this potential risk while still supporting the need for accelerated time to market?

I’ld propose the following –  When approached with a new digital business opportunity the decision process hinges on high level logic –

  1. What is the best architecture for this application (flexible, portable, secure, high performance)
    • How long will it take me to deliver it?
    • How much will it cost?
  2. What architecture will drive my quickest “Time to Market”?
    • How long will it take me to deliver it?
    • How much will it cost?
  3. What is the delta in cost and timeline between the best and quickest architecture?
  4. What is the perceived “time to market advantage” (As measured in revenue, customer satisfaction or cost savings)
  5. What is the cost and risk associated with an Exit Strategy?
    • Moving the application to a different application platform?
    • Moving the application to a different cloud or back on-premise?

Having answered these key questions an enterprise can intelligently look at the risks and returns of driving forward their key digital initiatives. Each situation may demand a different solution but a little bit of time spent thinking about these elements ahead of time could save millions later….

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