Cloud computing technology is a newly emerged technology that relies on internet server connection. The technology allows global sharing of information and resources. The cloud computing revolution has enhanced work performance, service delivery and real-time. Organizations with limited resources to acquire computer systems (server) and develop required Software can now use the available cloud services such as the Servers and available Software for free or at a small fee. Organizations can use cloud computing technologies to back up their data and coordinate their projects remotely. For instance, in project management, project managers can use the cloud project management soft wares to manage, schedule, monitor and implement their projects in a shared cloud platform hence utilizing project allocated resources. The suit of cloud computing is a broader concept of dynamic infrastructure and shared services. As it provides data cloud environment that allows enterprises or project managers to get their applications faster with easier manageability and less maintenance. It also enables proper utilization of IT resources such as server clouds, storage clouds and networking clouds to meet unpredictable cloud demands. All applications in the cloud are web-based and this is a day-to-day preferred service used by users. Project managers can prepare documents over the net and save them, and they can access them whenever required from the cloud space. Therefore, in cloud computing, project managers can either buy an infrastructure as a service which will provide an access to a new computing hardware over the net. For example, through buying a server storage, or they can use a complete Software service running on someone’s system such as web-based emails and google documents.
Technology is dynamic, that is it keeps changing every timewith advancements. The cloud computing technologies have played a key role in business operations such as projects management, marketing, banking as well as other respective business operations that requires technological services. Cloud computing makes use of cyberspace. In cloud computing, there is sharing of information and resources from various locations. For instance, Project managers can use cloud computing services with the help of project management software to coordinate and automate their projects (Catteddu & Hogben, 2009). This will help them to manage their project functions (tasks assigned) from different locations. The information is accessed and retrieved from the central server. So, the project manager can only access the information with the provision of a password. However, the internet is the key driving factor.
With the cloud computing technology, organizations or project managers can reach to wide storage facilities with super speed access. The Project managers can access the service anytime, anywhere and can use any device such as desktops, laptops, smartphones or tablets. The importance of using cloud-based computing services in project management is that it minimizes delays, information can be accessed in different time zones concurrently with the reliability of a good internet connection, it enables project collaboration, provision of backup and provision of unlimited storage space. Cloud computing services are cost-effective to startups and even to large organizations because the cost of setting up a reliable, fast and a wider storage server system is quite expensive depending on the nature of the business and facilities required. (Mahant, Deshpande, & Shaharkar, 2016).
However, cloud computing has its drawbacks such reliability of internet, in case of failure in internet connection as well as failure of the server, project managers cannot be able to access the information. Cybersecurity is another bigger threat to cloud computing services.
Cloud computing as a fast-rising trend for expansion in the field of IT.
The Notion of cloud computing was first introduced in the United States in the 20th Century. McCarthy once indicated that “the computation in future may be structured as a public service” (Mahant, Deshpande, & Shaharkar, 2016). Rammath Chellappa in the year 1997 invented the term cloud computing and is being used up to date and is considered the new paradigm in which it was concluded that the edge of computing services will be attained only through economic justification and not technological restrictions (Rajaraman, 2014). The initial enterprise to apply the idea of cloud computing was Salesforce.com, which used the concept to deliver company applications via their website (Zhang, Cheng, & Boutaba, 2010). Later, during the 21st century companies providing cloud services increased rapidly. Cloud computing expertise is fresh in the field of Information Technology as well as the most effective trend as far as the expansion of the industry is concerned. The development of this trend came as a result of: Virtualization that is, the establishment of high-speed internet as well as common standards of developing a software. Cloud computing has stretched out to service accessibility and availability (Zhang, Cheng, & Boutaba, 2010). Several customers are nowadays enjoying cloud computing without even being cognizant of it, for instance, through the use of the virtual disk Google Drive.
Cloud computing services are offered by an external organization or business and are always available on demand and robustly changing with respect to varying demands. Five fundamental values of cloud computing were formulated, and these were; any registered user can access computing resources; the virtualization of resources aimed at optimizing the utilization of the equipment; automatic creation of new machines and elimination of the current ones; flexible scaling, subject to one’s needs and; charge only for the resources that have been used (Mahant, Deshpande, & Shaharkar, 2016).
According to the Business Software Alliance Poland (BSAP) assumes the eleventh position amid twenty-four states in the government regulations and rules ranking impacting the advancement of cloud technology. The twenty-four surveyed nations of the world tally with eighty percent of the resources in both communication and information globally, as well as the policies of these nations, correspond in areas such as cyber-crime, intellectual property rights, cybersecurity, data protection, harmonization of the law, IT infrastructure as well as free trade.
According to the recent Carbon Disclosure Project Report, organizations that modernize their operations to better their performance in IT cannot only minimize capital expenditures but also reduce energy consumption as well as shrink the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere (Ruan, Carthy, Kechadi, & Baggili, 2013). The group approximated that, companies in the United States that shifts to the Cloud can cut down the costs on energy up to $12.3 billion and also the equivalent of two hundred million barrels of oil.
In 2009, cloud computing services’ revenue was only over fifty-eight point six billion dollars. But in 2011, expenditures in IT was over $2.6 trillion. Where cloud computing registered for just 2.3% of the world market, and yet there is more space for expansion. The research company, Gartner projects that cloud computing services will raise revenue to almost $152.1 billion in 2014 (Ruan et al., 2013).
Figure 1. Cloud Computing Services. Available at http://www. Xorlogics.com
The main factor that is propelling the demand for cloud computing is the rapid increase in information. Projections by Century Link Company indicates that by 2019, the world will experience an upsurge of data produced as well as replicated. Therefore, the moment all the data is created, one looks for a way to securely store it and also enable end-users the right to use it resourcefully (Ruan et al., 2013).
Evolution of Cloud Computing
Project Management Environment before Cloud Application
Before the advent of the Cloud, project managers worked in an environment where; servers were positioned within the organization, either at the external premises or on premises. Customer side laptops and desktops were distributed across the offices of the organization and were controlled by internal IT personnel. Development and maintenance of the systems of IT was executed by a staff of developers joined by a large pool of internal developers. There were some contractors consulted, but the majority of employees worked full-time (Younge, Von Laszewski, Wang, Lopez-Alarcon, & Carithers, 2010).
The responsibilities of an average project manager on a software before cloud computing took over included: work with the needs of technical designers for designs and architecture requests. Plan, manage, approximate, track, supervise as well as coordinate analysis design, testing and coding tasks between the respective teams. Hold general role for delivery, bonding with internal teams where possible as well as coordinate with customers so as to test the user acceptance and also internal teams to test the systems when needed (Younge et al., 2010).
The current outlook of project managers’ roles
There are no internal team members included in the planning and designing of architecture piece. Project managers only work together with architects and designers from the side of the vendor remotely, whereby they come onsite for meetings when needed. The coordination built grows as project managers have to consider their roles oscillating from assessment through testing, with the aid of an external vendor staff. Several meetings are convened (Younge et al., 2010).
Coordination with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders still take place within the organization for user acceptance testing though testing of systems integration is normally done by external teams. It appears more unique when the organization is using a hosted application at the cloud by external vendors (Ying, & Miller, 2013).
Different Categories of Cloud Projects
There are three primary categories of Cloud projects as follows: projects that use Cloud services for various users and applications versus those projects that utilize public Cloud facilities; projects dependent on the cloud services of just one provider against a multi-vendor cloud configuration such as a hybrid cloud; and projects which are one-off, applications that are independent, referred to us cloud applications, against a multi-application managed project (Marston, Li, Bandyopadhyay, Zhang, & Ghalsasi, 2011).
Typical examples of cloud projects include: Developing a cloud-based server and infrastructure of data as an average resource for business users; adapting to an external storage application, for instance, Google email; creating a standard system testing podium as well as installing a set of development facilities for the creation of cloud applications such as through development of PaaS environment; adopting Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud; embracing a cloud-based security system in project management; and executing data pack up system or a disaster management system based on the cloud (Younge et al., 2010).
Cloud projects can also be grouped into three categories depending on their complexity. They range from lower complexity cloud projects to higher cloud complexity projects as indicated below: Lower complexity- distribution of a single cloud structure from individual prover, with minimal or lack of service orchestration, unique security needs or integration; Medium complexity- creation and organization of a private corporate application by utilizing the already deployed cloud system execution platform; and Higher complexity- it comprises a higher hybrid cloud involving many service providers possessing both private as well as public components, incorporated with partners from outside and having certain compliance requirements (Younge et al., 2010).
Cloud computing can both streamline a project as well as make complicate it. Every project should be planned and arranged to suit the needs of the user and guarantee enough control is employed to the processes.
Figure 2. Cloud Architecture. Adopted from. “Effectively and Securely Using the Cloud Computing Paradigm” by Peter Mell, and Tim Grance 2016. Available at www.adtubeindia.com
Advantages of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing offers users both intangible and tangible benefits as follows; flexibility and lack of demand for servers- owners of businesses have no need of worrying about the approximation, installation, repairs as well as the acquisition of the suitable servers; enhances better performance, which offers an advantage above the competition- Cloud computing minimizes the cost of the business and this gives it a competitive advantage; there is improved safety in the cloud due to its consistency and performance offers it an upper hand; therefore, the safety of data is guaranteed because one of the essential features of firms offering services in the cloud is ensuring that security of documents is given the highest attention it deserves.
There is no need for an IT staff on the side of the customer at all and it is simple to solve issues since the ownership as well as communication are all in one place. The issue fixing process also is made easier because it is conducted at the remote site. This makes things easier for project managers especially when executing their responsibilities (Marston et al., 2011).
Although Cloud computing technology offers major benefits to businesses, some factors may force the resignation of other businesses from their use. These include: when a company is dealing with sensitive data, such as financial and medical data, which will be good sometimes stored on individual servers; cost of broadband is too high for small businesses to afford; big companies may afford their own infrastructure as well as their applications and therefore using cloud becomes ineffective; the reduction in the cloud effectiveness as a result network fluctuations can negatively affect performance; reluctance to change by company employees so as to be in tandem with the cloud computing technology and; lack of or even inadequate staff who are not well trained.
All of the aforementioned factors can be reduced, but it is not often economically or organizationally justified. Each time an organization needs to carefully consider the available solutions and resources and make use of the best alternatives available for a particular project.
Factors which show the explanations why Cloud computing is gaining the importance include: teleworking and telecommunication- cloud computing has made it easier for one to work from home and outside; focus on collaboration- huge amount of very important information is shared through cloud, not only within the organization but also with stakeholders, suppliers as well as other partners around the globe. Therefore, it improves the value of the information.
The vast information- we are in the era of information. This implies that we have a lot of information to handle and process today as compared to the past, and; economic necessity- most companies are faced with the urge of minimizing production costs, particularly in the current economic crisis. Though, without considering the worldwide recession, business rivalry and other factors, firms are required to implement cost-cutting.
There is growth in the importance of Cloud computing. With regard to a study which was done in Europe in 2011, it was discovered that more than sixty percent of small as well as medium-sized organizations have changed a section of its infrastructure to the cloud. The same study was done in Poland and it was discovered that about forty-six percent of SMEs use Cloud computing technologies. It is speculated that the market for Cloud computing business will gradually rise, and the rate of growth is estimated to be thirty-three percent annually. Cloud market accounted for approximately seven percent of the IT market. This indicates that Cloud computing is presently registering the highest growth rate in the IT market. Application of Cloud computing technology is likely to facilitate many companies increase revenues, as well as cut down the costs of public administration (Marston et al., 2011).
Skills demanded from Project Managers when using Cloud Computation
Project Managers need to obtain several new project management skills so as to manage business engagements through Cloud computing. Below are some of the most essential skills needed: the project manager requires to possess a deeper understanding of the Architecture of the enterprise- this is significant because the architectural landscape for applications tends to be more complicated when moving to the Cloud. Therefore, a deeper acquaintance of business architecture is necessary to ensure that newer applications are created having the correct enterprise as well as technical supplies in a way that they work flawlessly with the already available applications present in the cloud and onsite.
Project managers ought to possess advanced financial as well as costing skills; when a new application needs to be formed, project managers are always invited to do costing and ROI analysis for the two alternatives. These call for knowledge on Cloud-based environment and skills at coming up with a project budget. Project managers will be dealing with environments that are going to have a mixture of applications located at the cloud sites as well as those located on onsite servers.
Due to the rise in mobile devices in the workplace, project managers should have mobile app development and management skills. The move to cloud computing in many cases is being driven by the urge to offer services which are supposed to be made available by these devices, be it smartphones or laptops. Professionals are needed to create and deliver apps that can be placed in the cloud as well as reach customers, employees and other partners anytime and anywhere (Morajko, Margalef, & Luque, 2007).
Last but not least, project managers should have contract and vendor negotiation skills; the move to cloud necessitates managers to use contract and vendor negotiation skills more often because the creation of even a small application will call for cooperation with the vendor to iron out some issues which are of great importance.
The significance of projects in a business.
Companies do carry out different kinds of activities. There are four major categories of undertakings in an organization. These include; routine activities, which are normally simple and repetitive, connected with minimal chances of failing or being accomplished; in terms of features, the activities are complex, repetitive as well as formalized; advanced activities seem to be simple but distinctive. Projects have sophisticated as well as unique activities and have a high risk of failure (Marston et al., 2011).
As project management is evolving, the motives for development are also diverse. The most imperative of these reasons include: an increasing amount of possible projects within and without of businesses, in communities, regions as well as globally; growing number of problems to be solved using projects, ranging from building projects of construction, research, modernization also regarding expansion of companies, to the greater projects such as the use of energy and environmental conservation, development of societies, and programs for nations as well as regions of the world; changing focus and the difficulty of projects, from those that are small and implemented within a an organization and those projects that are executed in distinct departments of companies to a big ones globally; Development and narrowing down to design methods, as demonstrated using methods such as Agile, Scrum are specifically applied to projects related IT, connected to the improvement of computer programs or research, and a universal methodology, for instance, prudence, employed when carrying out giant projects matching to countries or regions; the expansion of IT such as use of internet, which has enhanced use of remote working project team participants through the internet, besides project management services as well as from outsourcing in the Cloud (Mahant, Deshpande, & Shaharkar, 2016).
The growing number of computer applications that can be accessible, which are both common, in the event that a particular application can be applied for projects of different type and scope, and an exceptional application that can support work on a particular kind of projects; the increasing demand for project managers, and project team members, the area of specialization as well as their training opportunities; the ever-changing economic conditions in which executes projects, the execution of the project is not the same during the implementation of a given project in different seasons. For instance, when the bull market seems to change with seasons of crisis; the ongoing worldwide predicament compels a unique approach to the execution of the projects; the creation of the information society is consistently demanding for a variety of new products from producers, and thus firms develop new products as well as deliver them to the market for customers; the clients of the services influence the development of the very products through co-creation process (Endo, Gonçalves, Rosendo, Gomes, Santos, Moreira, & Mahloo, 2017).
Case Study Projects Managed using Cloud
The initial project involved in the transfer of an ERP system at one of the firm’s clients. The firm carrying out the project was an international company based in the Netherlands, having offices in Asia and Central Europe. The focus of the firm’s activities comprises human resource, accounting, financial services, particularly focused on the field of outsourcing, and consulting in modeling as well as maximization of company activities besides project management (Endo et al., 2017).
A special web platform was created at the start so as to make easier for the project to be implemented. The purpose of the web was to enhance information accessibility as well as communication among the project participants. Afterwards, the firm recommends the use of the Microsoft Online Service, and this service depends on the applications which are mounted on the virtual servers, appearing like they were set up for desktop computers. As part and parcel of the package is made accessible by each server. Creation of documents is now possible with Office applications. The first part of the package facilitated the development of a portal which boosts a source of project documents and data, project calendar to inform the members of the events. Mail application enables a user to automatically save appointments in the schedules or calendars of the participants (Endo et al., 2017).
Another service permits users to manage project activities, allocated to a specific participant of the project, and to report problems. In the event that the problem is precarious, information regarding it is automatically delivered to everyone who is interested or concerned. The service as well enhances the sharing of lists and contacts. There is also another service which enables one to carry out virtual team meetings as well as project group meetings. Real problems can be discussed during these meetings and real decisions are made. Attached communicator facilitates access to current information depending on the position of persons involved in the implementation of the project. This is done so as to communicate to participants of a project at a time they are less occupied (Endo et al., 2017).
The suggested solution has substantiated to be right. The data and documents of the project were in a commonplace, which simplified project management, execution of activities as well as decision- making. There is proper documentation of project notes. The system is able to save subsequent versions of documents and also support their control. It is possible to manage the project since calendars user are harmonized as well as project notification dates, and the conclusion of a given activity or postponement are monitored. The solution permitting to cut down costs accompanying the acquisition of software licenses, as well as the purchase of license could be used by just one company. Every project team member is able to enjoy the service.
The service facilitating meetings for project team participants in the virtual world has reduced costs associated with business travel besides reduced charges incurred when making telephone calls. Again, the executed projects can dynamically modify the model to the varying necessities. The firm executing the project may call off the service after its completion, or take advantage of each of the instigated services or even just a section of them for the sake of other projects successive to their clients (Choudhary, Mital, Sharma, & Pani, 2015).
The second project comprised the documentation of a railway design for the renovation of a railway station. The tender was given to a contractor with a company dealing with consultancy and implementation of projects in the transport and infrastructure field. The firm was established after the revolution of the global consulting and engineering firm implementing projects in the department of transport infrastructure. The implementing company was situated in the Warsaw, but has branches in a number of cities in Poland, and provides a variety of services in the field of construction supervision, design and advice on technical issues after doing an analysis of the economic efficacy of the investment for both industrial and railway construction facilities.
The project involved the building and the supervisory project documentation as well as the approximations of costs that could be invested for the railway reconstruction. The project was implemented by company employees, but also experts- specialist from outside the company attended. This fact has prompted the necessity of employing cloud in its implementation. Therefore, the project facts, as well as documentation, have been placed in the cloud. A software of project management of service version was used. Using an expertly created platform made it easier and smooth for project teams involved to operate as well as execute the project. Effective flow of information was ensured such as employees working out of their offices. Team meetings were substituted with video conferences, which led to a reduction in travel costs as well as a great phone bill reduction. The solution as well assisted in improving labor productivity, enhanced fast execution of projects and its attention on the client. It also ensured that the project was executed as per the plan (Choudhary et al., 2015).
Application of Cloud in Project Management
It is very easy to apply the concept of Cloud in management and it comprises of a service of entrance to the background of the project as well as to use. For instance, the software distribution model is referred to us Software as a Service (SaaS), whereby a customer is able to access the basic software applications located in the provider server and pays for each as he/she continues to use them (Drissi, Houmani, & Medromi, 2013). The benefit of using Cloud application is that it allows information sharing between participants of a project as well as its capacity to protect inclusion of the customer to manage the project. The expertise of project management managers shows that the teething troubles that concerns a project manager affecting cloud computing does not relate to the so-called “hard” features, for example, the choice of technology, adaptation of infrastructure as well as developing a single management, and there are more related to “soft” sections of management, such as organizing as well as putting into practice of change process, resistance of network administration and education (Choudhary et al. , 2015).
The using of the service model is able to provide an organization implementing the project similar advantages as the application of Cloud for the firm which include: secure storage of data associated with the project; the compatibility with the latest version of the application that supports the management of a project; automation of some processes; requires no special license for the software; it is not necessary to acquire an exceptional server for project management; easy and quick access to the project from any place, one just needs to have internet access; the ability to support remote working of project team members when need arises; offers the right to use hefty computing power required in the execution of giant as well as complex projects and; technical assistance of cloud providers (Marston et al. , 2011)
Figure 2. Cloud Architecture. Adopted from. “Effectively and Securely Using the Cloud Computing Paradigm” by Peter Mell, and Tim Grance 2016. Available at www.adtubeindia.com
Cloud computing involves a division of responsibilities among providers and users which requires to be based on properly defined agreements, normally referred to as Service Level Agreements (SLA). Therefore, each cloud services provider should have an SLA to specify which services are being offered, how much it costs, how it should operate as well as what remedies are available in case it fails. For instance, Amazon contains ECZ SLA and Microsoft have Azure SLA (Endo et al., 2017).
Project management is a complicated process that requires all project partners to be involved to avoid project failures. For instance, project management calls for proper management of resources, scheduling of projects, monitoring, evaluation and project milestone mapping. With the cloud computing technology, it provides the platform(s) that will enable project managers to coordinate various project stakeholders from different remote areas with the sharing of cyberspace to implement the projects. However, there are project management Soft wares available, but the project managers need to learn how to use them. It is also recommendable that project managers and organizations should use the clouding services to implement their projects so as to improve their service delivery and timely completion of their projects hence customer satisfaction. However, cloud computing services has its limitations in internet and server reliability, by the failure of one of the systems (internet or server), the entire service will be down. Therefore, there will be no any accessibility of any information until the systems are restored. Nevertheless, cloud computing services are reliable and effective that project managers or organizations should consider to implement.
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