Cloud User Stories for Business and IT Leaders

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This is a collection of user stories for the cloud. 

This collection is a simple way to share the most common scenarios that architects, business leaders, and IT leaders will be facing as they adopt cloud technologies.

I decided two birds, one stone. 

User Stories are a Powerful Way to Communicate

First, I wanted to share a simple example of how to share user stories.  User stories are a powerful way to identify and enumerate the problems, wants, and needs within a given domain.  Having a bird’s-eye view helps you see the forest for the trees so that you can better prioritize as well as see trends and patterns. 

Second, I wanted to share a real example that’s relevant and easy to relate to.  In this case, I’m sharing cloud user stories.  I can’t think of a more relevant body of knowledge for this significant inflection point in our industry.

Chunk Down a Problem Space with User Stories

There are two key outcomes from this post:

  1. You can effectively share user stories for a problem space
  2. You have a good understanding of some of the key challenges facing architects, business leaders, and IT leaders in terms of cloud technologies.

An example is worth a 1000 words, but one of the things I want you to notice in the user stories below, is the wording. 

The secret to wording effective user stories is to use persona-based scenarios with goals.  For example, “As an architect, I want to …” or “As an IT Leader, I need to ….” 

Yes, this looks simple, but this phrasing is powerful. 

It makes it easy to collect user stories in a fast way. 

Don’t Make User Stories One-Size, Fits All

The mistake is to have a bunch of user stories that are over-generalized and over-loaded.  With user stories, the key is to be clear, simple, and straightforward. 

Clever is the enemy. 

It should be easy for anybody to read the user stories and easily make sense of them without having to do a bunch of mental gymnastics or parsing.   The simpler the better.

If you see key stories that I’m missing, feel free to share in the comments. 

The beauty of having a map of user stories is that it’s easy to add or reshape the map.  

This is the key to being able to leverage multiple smart people in an organized way.

Categories for Cloud User Stories

  • Awareness / Education
  • Architecture
  • Availability
  • Competition
  • Cost
  • Governance and Regulation
  • Industry
  • Integration
  • Operations
  • People
  • Performance
  • Planning
  • Risk
  • Security
  • Service Levels / Quality of Service
  • Solutions
  • Sourcing
  • Strategy
  • Support

Map of Cloud User Stories for Business and IT Leaders

Category Items
Awareness / Education
  • As a Business Leader, I want to define the perspective on Cloud Computing and provide a holistic view of how various products, technologies and services help me
  • As an Architect I want to know how the cloud architecture supports my business goals and enterprise architecture
  • As an IT Leader I want details on training and educating my staff in the use and support for the service

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  • As a Business Leader, I want to understand why I wouldn’t go to a proven partner that has a history of doing this for my competition, one that is already providing a similar service as part of our outsourcing agreement
  • As an Architect I want to understand how the cloud architecture reduces complexity
  • As an Architect, I want a way to see what my peers are doing, to learn and support each other
  • As an Architect, I want actionable guidance for prioritization of ground apps to cloud apps. How do I work out the balance for what should go into the cloud?
  • As an Architect, I want education on the content myself so that I am well versed in the specific items that apply to my customer
  • As an Architect, I want to know the good, bad, and ugly so that I am not misrepresenting this to the customer based on marketing material
  • As an Enterprise Architect, I want to understand why I would even consider moving to the cloud. What we have works, why change?
  • As an Architect, I want to understand the perceptions of customers and assumptions they will have that lead to preconceived ideas – and how do I ‘unlearn’ them to get to a better discussion
  • As an Architect, I want to understand the right sequence of steps to educate a customer on cloud
  • As an IT Leader, I want to know where the complexity is in the cloud. Every new paradigm claims to be simpler but still has to deal with the same operational baggage – where is the complexity in cloud solutions?
  • As an IT Leader, I want to know why I wouldn’t just go to a traditional outsourcer
  • As an IT Leader, I want to understand how I manage corporate data that may span multiple cloud scenarios
  • As an IT Leader, I want to understand why I would introduce yet another environment into my services and the associated complexity
Architecture
  • As an Architect, I want to see reference architecture for compelling cloud scenarios that will help me build a desired end-state for my specific customer scenario
  • As an Architect, I want to see case studies of both success and failure
  • As an Architect, I want to learn about proven Reference Architecture patterns for the cloud.

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  • As an Architect, I want to understand Microsoft’s reference models for cloud concepts and terms.
  • As an Architect, I want data movement and management patterns and best practices
  • As an Architect, I want to identify Cloud System Integration Patterns (Cloud-To-Ground, VendorCloud-To-Ground, OurCloud-ToVendorCloud, VendorCloud-to-VendorCloud-to-Ground, etc)
Availability
  • As a Business Leader, I want to understand geographical redundancy
  • As an Architect, I want to know how to handle disaster recovery in the cloud
  • As an IT Leader, I want to understand the same details I would expect from my own data center (fault tolerance, back up procedures, disaster recovery etc.)

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  • As a Business Leader, I want to know what happens when the next country decides to block Internet access
  • As an Architect, I want to learn how to evaluate cloud services for availability across all regions I need to cover. (What is the performance? What about support in a global environment?)
Competition
  • As a Business Leader, I want to know cloud offerings compare to the competition
  • As a Business Leader, I want to understand how cloud offerings can give me a leg up on my competition
  • As an Architect, I want a way to know what competitors are saying and how it should be addressed
Cost
  • As a Business Leader, I want to understand the cost structure for cloud solutions
  • As an Architect, I want a way to create a realistic cost model based on the current workload
  • As an IT Leader, I want to know if I need to migrate or rewrite my apps and what are the costs associated with this

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  • As a Business Leader, how do I manage the transition period in which I probably have to pay twice?
  • As a Business Leader, I want a consistent cost of service so that I can manage against my budget
  • As a Business Leader, I want to know how to manage cloud service subscriptions across a large enterprise to optimize subscription costs
  • As a Business Leader, I want to know that I am not going to incur a large spike in my costs as part of the migration to the cloud
  • As a Business Leader, I want to know what geographic redundancy does to my bandwidth usage and costs
  • As an Architect, I want a way to assist with the customer presentations and planning discussions
  • As an Architect, I want a way to identify areas in IT where cost reductions can be had with relatively low risk
  • As an Architect, I want the costs to be known and predictable so that I can budget accordingly
  • As an Architect, I want to learn how to manage cloud service subscriptions across a large enterprise to optimize subscription costs
  • As an Architect, I want to understand how to build the cost model for the customer
  • As an Architect, I want understand the taxation impact on Cloud based Transactions (state, Federal, inter-nation)
  • As an IT Leader, I want a clear cost breakdown contrasted against my current costs or if I used my existing environment
  • As an IT Leader, I want to understand how I can implement chargeback within my IT environment to provide more transparency on costs
  • As an IT Leader, I want to understand the cost structure for the cloud solutions
Governance and Regulation
  • As a Business Leader, I want to know how to manage government regulations related to where certain info can be stored. (For large enterprise that have subsidiaries in several countries. A single cloud service may not be able to comply with each countries various regulation needs)
  • As an Architect, I want a way to address all regulations and restrictions that may be realized for my customers in all areas they do business
  • As an Architect, I want to ensure I am meeting regulatory requirements

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  • As a Business Leader, I want to know how to adhere to the various government regulations related to pricing and information storage
  • As a Business Leader, I want to understand the environmental impact of moving to the cloud. How will this impact my green initiatives?
  • As an Architect, I want to learn how to adhere to the various government regulations related to pricing and information storage.
  • As an Architect, I want to learn how to manage government regulations related to where certain information can be stored.
  • As an Architect, I want to understand the jurisdiction issues with the cloud and how to mitigate them for my region(s)
Industry
  • As an Architect, I want to identify the relevant cloud industry trends for the business.
Integration
  • As a Business Leader, I want to understand how I integrate with my existing systems
  • As an Architect, I want to understand how to integrate cloud solutions with my existing processes
  • As an IT Leader, do I need to move all my integrated apps to the cloud or can I do this progressively? What does this mean when apps are integrated (data, web services…)?
Operations
  • As an IT Leader, I want to know how many environments do I need and what are the implications and costs (dev/test/pre-prod/prod)
  • As an IT Leader, I want to know how to integrate cloud reporting into my existing reporting infrastructure
  • As an IT Leader, I want to understand release management requirements to ensure they fit with our current procedures or do not create undue overhead

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  • As an IT Leader, I want to know what the reporting capabilities of the service are. This provides visibility to the business on how the services are performing.
  • As an IT Leader, I want to understand a holistic view on management that spans all cloud scenarios
  • As an IT leader, I want to understand how I model the health of applications that may span private and public clouds or fully deployed in public cloud to ensure I can have better control on service levels.
  • As an IT Leader, I want to understand how I model the health of applications that may span private and public clouds or fully deployed in public cloud to ensure I can have better control on service levels
  • As an IT Leader, what is the flexibility of an organization to decide of when upgrades are appropriate based on their priorities and rhythms and how can I test my environment before upgrading the production environment?
People
  • As a Business Leader, I want to understand how my workforce must evolve to embrace the cloud
  • As a Business Leader, I want to understand how the cloud impacts my user base globally
  • As an Architect, I want to know what this means to IT teams (Do I need to get rid of people or repurpose the teams — which means here up leveling, training)

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  • As a Business Leader, I want to understand how various cloud scenarios impact my workforce levels
  • As an Architect, I want guidance for measuring the impact of moving a system to the cloud (business and IT)
Performance
  • As a Business Leader, I want to understand how my service level management processes need to cater to online service redelivery
  • As an Architect, I want to know what are the availability, reliability, and scalability of the cloud (What do the SLAs mean? Do they still hold the same commitments?)
  • As an IT Leader, I want to know that I can make quick patches to address immediate quality of service issues

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  • As an Architect, I want the cloud to provide elasticity for my business as it expands and contracts to address seasonal load
  • As an IT Leader, I want to know how to more effectively manage capacity requirements to avoid underutilized infrastructure and leverage online service more effectively
  • As an IT Leader, I want to understand the level of service I can expect for all of my user base
Planning
  • As a Business Leader, I want to understand how I test the solution before deployment
  • As a Customer, I want to know how to work out the balance for what should go into the cloud – I accept it’s not 0% and not 100% – but how do I find the right balance?
  • As an Architect, I want to develop some guiding architectural principles to help me build strategy and roadmap around Cloud Computing

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  • As a Business Leader, I want to determine the effort needed to migrate our existing solution. Is this a lift and shift? Is this a rewrite, do we extend?
  • As an Architect, I want a way to determine the items in the cloud offerings that are relevant to my customer
  • As an Architect, I want my application portfolio management to inject cloud relevant criteria to decide what moves to the cloud and when (if it all)
  • As an Architect, I want to ensure we are not impacting the ability to realize change
  • As an Architect, I want to know how I can reduce my IT infrastructure burden by bursting capabilities into the cloud when I can’t outsource the whole service to the cloud
  • As an Architect, I want to know what maturity levels for what capabilities I need to ensure to better enable leveraging cloud scenarios
  • As an Architect, I want to understand how I can treat my physical infrastructure assets as more of a fabric and abstract the complexities of OEM devices
Risk
  • As a Business Leader, I want to know how I can retrieve my IP/Data should I decide to move provider (service lock-in)
  • As an Architect, I want to understand the areas of risk that I am accepting by trusting an external data center and service
  • As an IT Leader, I want to know the blockers that lead to implementation failure

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  • As a Business Leader, how comfortable is a European company to host in a datacenter that is in the US?
  • As a Business Leader, I want to know what happens if the service is not reliable. What are my options? Can I easily find another solution and get out of the contract?
  • As a Business Leader, I want to understand the risks of depending on a single partner to run my business
  • As a Business Leader, I want to understand what is involved if we decide to return to our existing service
  • As an Architect, I want to be able to test with low risk opportunities if we decide to proceed
  • As an Architect, I want to know how to avoid vendor lock in
  • As an Architect, I want to understand how to identify low risk opportunities for the cloud
  • As an IT Leader, I want to know the blockers for adoption that cause decision paralysis
  • As an IT Leader, I want to know where the complexity is in cloud based solutions
Security
  • As an Architect I want to understand what new security risks exist in the cloud and what old risks have been mitigated
  • As an Architect, I want to know how I manage identity across cloud scenarios considering I’ve already invested heavily in my internal IT
  • As an Architect, I want to know how to manage privacy and integrity of the data if it’s hosted in the cloud. (How do I restrict access to the data by the hoster, and what do I do about a local copy of the data that is synchronized regularly?)

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  • As an Architect, I want to know how to manage accessing cloud services from within the various heterogeneous internal networks
  • As an Architect, I want to understand a holistic view on security that spans all cloud scenarios
  • As an Architect, my company has invested in a common directory (AD/SSO). How does this work in the cloud?
Service Levels / Quality of Service
  • As a Business Leader I want to understand who is liable in the event of a service failure
  • As a Business Leader I want to understand who is liable in the event of a security breach
  • As an Architect, I want to understand what level of technical support is available to myself and my team

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  • As an Business Leader, I want to know if I’ll have to change my SLA with customers
  • As an Architect, I want to know how the cloud infrastructure is supported
Solutions
  • As a Business Leader, I want to try before I buy and have access to a proof of concept
  • As an Architect, I want access to experts that can do analysis on creating solutions to determine the issues, risks, and costs for migration
  • As an IT Leader, I want to understand the balance for what should go in the cloud; I accept it’s not 0% and not 100%, how do I find the right balance

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  • As an Architect, I want a way to assist with the proof of concept
  • As an Architect, I want to know how I can backup our Ground based HPC with the Cloud for on demand scale
  • As an IT Leader, I want my IT strategy to reflect Cloud computing, on-premises and off-premises capabilities
Sourcing
  • As an Architect, I want to know how to do partnership management in the cloud. (Managing a partner is hard and when this comes down to the fact that the service can be unavailable it is even more important to do a good job)
  • As an Architect, I want to know how to evaluate whether the application or system is considered core to my business and could be sourced to a partner in the cloud (Can the system or application be hosted outside of the intranet?)
  • As an Architect, I want to know how to use the Cloud for our DR plan. (i.e. fail from Ground to Cloud)
Strategy
  • As an Architect, I want to understand Microsoft’s strategy for cloud
Support
  • As a business leader, I want to know how we integrate with our existing help desk for escalation
  • As a Business Leader, I want to know if there is a reliable support structure (24×7)
  • As an IT Leader, I want to know what happens if something goes wrong; how fast will I be notified of an issue, how long will it take to be addressed, what priority will I be given contrasted against the other consumers of the service?

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  • As a Business Leader, I want to know what the support implications are in a global environment
  • As an Architect, I want to know how to evaluate or enforce a 24×7 support model with the cloud
  • As an Architect, I want to know who I call if I am experiencing an issue with the hosted solution

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