3 Different Approaches to Benchmark Your Cloud Adaption Against Other Companies – A Study on Cloud Maturity Models for Enterprises

I normally blog for startups, SMBs and enterpreneurs who build tomorrow’s SaaS services – this one is an exception – one of those flashbacks from the past … Maturity models are used to benchmark yourself against other companies in your industry, measure progress on your initiatives and helps to create a strategy roadmap or prioritize creation and migration of capabilities and investments over time for cloud adoption. This article is a brief overview of some of the Cloud Maturity Models available for enterprise companies today. It is not at all, a comprehensive study of all models and perspectives though. The key objective is to give you a sense of what’s a Cloud Maturity Model and how some of the market leaders use them.

In this article, Cloud means Cloud infrastructure, used by an Enterprise organisation. This study excludes small ISVs who use the Cloud to deliver online services / point solutions in a SaaS model. It also excludes the space of private cloud, although private cloud comes up in some of the models below. The focus of this study is on enterprise and Public Cloud as the extension or replacement of the corporate data centre.

For those who don’t get the point of defining Cloud Maturity Models: you are not on your own. To start with, ZapThink’s Ron Schmelzer debunked the whole idea of SOA maturity models in an essay, “Forget Maturity Models — It’s Time for an Agility Model”:

“It’s becoming clear that the industry doesn’t really need a SOA maturity model. The act of doing SOA properly in itself is an act of architectural maturity that many companies are having trouble grasping. Companies are trying to understand how to best apply SOA and realize the benefits against their own stated business goals. As such, what’s not needed is an abstract, enterprise-wide, industry-wide, artificial measure of maturity that complies with CMMI’s five levels, but rather a way of measuring the state of a SOA implementation against the fundamental goal of SOA itself: agility.”

Looking at Cloud Maturity Models from the perspective of business enablement, agility and revenue potential takes this exercise to a more strategic level and make it more relevant for the business and company as a whole. Therefore, most advanced models consider business agility and capabilities enabled by the Cloud as an essential part of their model.

Another concern Roger Smith at InformationWeek has raised is that if the highest level of a Cloud Maturity Model is a measure of an organization’s overall skills, policies, consistency and practices when developing cloud applications, why do we not rate specific projects? If your Cloud Maturity Models does let you rate specific projects, how do you factor in projects where cloud-less capabilities make more sense?

Here’s a list of some of the market leaders – highlighting the main approaches available today:

I. The Pure Business-driven Approach

I’ve read was in one of the best selling Cloud Computing books on Amazon. The writer looks at the question from a perspective of how easily an organisation enabling their employees to access large computing capacities. The more hassle and bureaucracy it takes, the less mature the organisation’s Cloud adoption. The easier and faster employees can provision Cloud (i.e. large computing or storage) facilities, the more mature the organisation is from the Cloud Computing’s perspective. Companies where employees have to sneak in Cloud bills to the expense reports are probably not on the high-end scale, while companies where Cloud is available in general through easy provisioning, probably stand towards the more developed stages.

* Book title: Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution: How Cloud Computing Is Transforming Business and Why You Can’t Afford to Be Left Behind

II. Business and Technology-driven Approaches

Microsoft begins its Cloud maturity model with the assumption that the client is already using the Cloud and scores their Cloud maturity level on how efficiently they use their Cloud resources and how close Cloud stands to the company’s business priorities – i.e. how the Cloud enables cost control, business agility and new revenue enablement for the organisation. The assessment is delivered by Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) most of the time, to leverage MCS’ learning and experience in working with thousands of enterprises worldwide.

Microsoft's Cloud Maturity Model

Microsoft looks at these maturity levels from 3 main perspectives (Governance, Platform Enablement and Infrastructure) – all relevant and important to a successful Cloud adaption. Within the 3 perspectives, are 3 disciplines each:

Microsoft's Cloud Maturity Model

Disciplines help an organisation to easily determine which level they stand on the Cloud Maturity Model – by precisely and specifically defining the current state of these disciplines. For example, the organisation is at the Rationalized level if:

  • Information & Process: Competitive advantage from information technology shifts toward customer experience, data analytics, and knowledge worker enablement; consequently, information management skills will rise in importance relative to business process design.
  • IT Role in Business: IT roles are embed in business services, evolve into business roles, or be externalized. Remaining IT roles will be housed in a business shared service group. The CIO position will expand to lead this group or shrink to manage IT procurement and integration.
  • Rules and Definition Management: Business has system development processes which are linked to manage repositories to ensure alignment, improve efficiency and maintain knowledge base.

In the model itself, business priorities are shown as drivers and the assessment is driven by assessing mainly the IT capabilities. Microsoft’s model has some similarities to COBIT’s maturity model, so that both look at the organisation’s maturity as a step-by-step process which involves business and technology drivers and benefits.

http://cloudmaturity.com, an IT development, consulting, and training firm, specializing in IT portfolio optimization, simplifies the model and assesses an enterprise’s Cloud maturity model by their technology adoption, while clearly defines Focus, Business Benefits and Success Factors for each maturity stage:


This model is similar to Microsoft’s, slightly simpler and it looks at different Cloud models (SaaS/PaaS/IaaS) and their usage level for the appropriate scenarios.

Oracle’s Cloud Maturity Model includes sixty capabilities that capture the best practices that Oracle has collected over years working with a wide variety of companies. These capabilities provide the detail necessary to measure and guide the progress of a Cloud initiative.

Oracle's Cloud Maturity Model

  • Business & Strategy – Contains capabilities that provide the high-level constructs that allow the Cloud initiative to proceed. This includes such things as business motivation, expected benefits, guiding principles, expected costs, funding model, etc. Capabilities such as service selection and service level agreements gain relevance in Cloud initiatives as well.
  • Architecture – Contains capabilities concerning the definitions of the overall architecture and guidelines for various practitioners to ensure adherence to the architecture. Capabilities fundamental to cloud architectures, such as resource pooling, interoperability, and self service are considered in the model.
  • Infrastructure – Contains capabilities concerning the service infrastructure and tools that provide the technical foundation for the Cloud initiative. Shared services, provisioning, and model packaging are particularly important in cloud infrastructure.
  • Information – Contains capabilities concerning the information aspects of Cloud, such as metadata management, as well as customer entitlements, and data durability.
  • Projects, Portfolios & Services – Contains capabilities concerning the planning and building of cloud services, and management of the portfolio of services.
  • Operations, Administration & Management – Contains capabilities concerning the post deployment aspects of cloud service i.e. the Operations, Administration, and Management aspects of the cloud environment. This includes capabilities for the delivery of self-service functions, and change management.
  • Organization – Contains capabilities concerning the development of organizational competency around Cloud Computing including the organizational structure and skills development, as well as executive sponsorship and organizational authority.
  • Governance – Contains capabilities concerning the governance structures and processes that support and guide the cloud efforts. These include policy management, risk management, and auditing capabilities. Maturity and adoption of adequate governance is a leading indicator of the overall success of a Cloud Computing strategy.

These eight domains, although interrelated, are distinct, and they form a means of organising an assessment effort, as well as the development of a roadmap. Successful transition to Cloud Computing requires adequate progress in all of these domains.

For example, an organisation might have a reference architecture that is widely disseminated, had been reviewed and accepted broadly, but lacked significant elements (e.g. resource pooling strategy) required to provide a complete architectural vision for Cloud. Having both a reference architecture and a resource pooling strategy are best practices, and both are therefore captured in the Cloud Maturity Model as capabilities. A sample assessment is shown here:

Oracle's Cloud Maturity Model

Adoption measures how widely Cloud Computing is being accepted, embraced, and applied within the enterprise. For smaller organizations within a single line-of-business, maturity and adoption are usually tightly related since there is a single approach to Cloud being followed by the entire organization.

The levels of maturity used in the Cloud Maturity Model from None, through Ad Hoc, Opportunistic, Systematic, Managed, to Optimized being the highest level.

Oracle then uses the following diagram to set directions in Cloud strategy:

Oracle's Cloud Maturity Model

This model considers both business and technology capabilities. Available at http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/topics/entarch/oracle-wp-cloud-maturity-model-r3-0-1434934.pdf.

vmware built a self-assessment questionnaire to determine your maturity by technical, organisational and awareness-related questions and generate an online report to compare your results with your competitors in the industry (now, I realised, that’s why it popped up a 30+ field registration form). The maturity model considers Strategy, Process, Architecture/Technology and People/Governance as cornerstones for a mature Cloud adoption and shows an immediate comparison of your company with your peers:

vmware's Cloud Maturity Model

This model is similar to Oracle’s, but seems less comprehensive – thus the short 4-pager survey format. Available at http://getcloudready.vmware.com/crsa.

III. The Purely Technology-focused Approach

gtsi, one of the leading US government suppliers in IT sees Cloud as the next and most advanced step in an infrastructure maturity model:

gtsi's Cloud Maturity Model

This model shows Cloud Maturity purely from an technology and IT management perspective, which might be the requirement of public sector government organisations where investment priorities are not determined by business priorities and could be potentially difficult to articulate in a changing political environment.


While Cloud computing means different business benefits for different industries and sizes, there’s one recurring theme in almost every model: how the Cloud capabilities are translated to the language of business and how they can be used to align IT with the business priorities. This is not a new story in technology. The past decades were about CIOs struggling to (or not concerned about) supporting business priorities and losing power and influence – exposing the IT department to the waving mood of the board. Business-focused Maturity Models are the tools of hero CIOs to gain credibility by allowing their business and entire organisation to leverage the unlimited potential of the Cloud.

LinkedinDavid Szabo, Cloud Strategy Advisor, Firestarter and Rulebreaker at Microsoft. Startup-addict, SaaS & Cloud consultant, blogger at http://cloudstrategyblog.com and LEGO serious play facilitator. Follow me on Twitter!

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One Response to 3 Different Approaches to Benchmark Your Cloud Adaption Against Other Companies – A Study on Cloud Maturity Models for Enterprises

  1. Pingback: Life Finds a Way – NASA’s Audit On Internal Use of Cloud Services | The Cloud Strategy Blog

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