Thursday, January 23, 2014

Technology Decision Factors

When making a decision about what technology to use for a project, product, or service architecture there are many factors to consider that will impact the total cost in ownership for a company.

Skilled Workforce

Risk: Availability, Salary Cost, Training Cost, Churn Cost

Commentary: The skilled workforce factor sometimes gets forgotten in the hunt for a technology.  If a technology is highly specialized it will decrease chances of hiring someone with the appropriate skill level to deal with the technology.  It will also increase the cost of training and/or salary.  There can be a high churn rate for the skilled resource as they can get head hunted by other companies or they become concerned about their career as the skill set exercised is too narrow for their long term  career goals.  Skill sets must span both Development, Test, and Operations as well as training for end-users of the technology if necessary.

Technology Support

Risk: Code Stability, Documentation Quality, Tech Support, Market Survival, Backwards Compatibility

Commentary: If a technology is bleeding edge or produced by a one man band, it can suffer from poor documentation, poor technical support, instabilities, and may not survive its incubation period.   It is also important to have the assurance that the company producing the technology are committed to backward compatibility so you don't lose your coding investment.

Operational Cost 

Risk: Deployment and Provisioning Costs, Maintenance Costs, Stability, Tech Support, Hot Patch Support

Commentary: The day to day operational costs of technology is very important to take into consideration.  On-Site hardware costs, installation costs, backup costs, failover costs, global data and processing distribution costs, tuning costs, hardware maintenance costs, Software upgrade costs, hot patch costs, production trouble shooting costs, and operation staff costs is a lot to calculate.  On-Site may have a much hire cost of ownership then subscribing to cloud services.   Cloud Services provide a much simpler and predictable cost model and usually provide elastic provisioning to grow or shrink to your needs.  Something to really contemplate when selecting your technology platform.

Security Cost 

Risk: Customer Safety, Business Safety

Commentary: Data and processes in the hands of the wrong people can cause irreversible damage to a customer or the business.   Personal Identification Information (PII) and Business Critical Information must be secured and not taken lightly.  Is the usage of the technology managing such information?  Can the Technology tightly secure the information?   Can it keep up with latest security features and patches to protect against security breaches?  Can it detect security breaches?  Same questions for any sensitive processes.

Business Functional Requirements

Risk: Functionality,  Elastic Scalability, Reliability, Availability 

Commentary: I placed this last because these are the most obvious factors to consider.  Does the technology provide the proper level of functionality to support the business?   Can it scale with the company as its needs grow and shrink through out time?  Its is stable and reliable?  Can it deal with the 99.9, 99.99, 99.999 uptime availability requirements?   What is the Mean Time To Recovery (MTTR)?

Bottom Line: Remember that you get what you pay for, but don't pay for more than what is warranted.  And in a competitive world, the total cost of ownership of your enterprise technology balanced with the need to enable your company to compete is critical to get right.

Please See the following docs for the cost benefits for cloud technology solutions.
Cloud Economics
Cloud Platforms for Business Owners
Cloud Optimization - A Framework for making business decisions about cloud computing

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