Saturday, March 26, 2011

Creating Clarity out of Cloud Fog

For my readers I apologize for not posting more frequently. For the past 6+ months I have been finalizing a book with IT Process Institute on Private Cloud Computing. It will be coming out Mid April. The final copy just was sent to edit YESTERDAY!!! Check out to order in a couple of weeks. Will also be on Amazon.

First and foremost I would like to thank all the 50+ participants from both Vendors and Customers in interviews, reviews, and the overall edit and review process. Most importantly - we want to thank the 30+ customers that did qualitative interviews. The inspiration and purpose of the book was to create something with customers and for customers to reduce the clutter and confusion that has been known as the "Cloud".

Customers struggle and frankly have had enough of vendors being so introspective that we loose sight of what is really important: them. Those that sign the checks and use the products in production are sophisticated, smart and really know what they need. It is refreshing to know that as with Vista - customers just are not buying it. They are looking at what are the benefits for their business and taking baby steps to figure out how to get there. They are NOT buying into any platforms or solutions that promote vendor lock-in so they do not have control over their destiny or costs associated with hosting a web 2.0 solution. They do have options and they know it.

How does one find Clarity in the "Foggy" Cloud?
People and processes not technology at this point that will assist in understanding the various layers and what truly is involved. Meaning - when there are so many different architectures, committees, limited standards across solutions, and opinions that of course point back to the technology of the day - it is best to start with requirements and determine the right blueprint based on that.

  • Juice Worth the Squeeze? Need to understand the true TCO (OpEx and CapEx) to determine if value is really there at this point in time. Will it give you competitive advantage, help transform IT from a Cost Center to a Profit center through extending services, or will you sink millions of man hours and dollars without ever realizing results?

  • Betamax or VHS? There are so many different architectures and new layers for the Platform and from OS stack to the Virtual App that it is really hard at this point to determine what is the best way to go. Most top performers - do pilots with their ISP provider to achieve at least a Software as a Service offering while trying to determine how this will all shake out.

  • Public or Private? Real answer for most is BOTH. Security and Compliance is making it harder to burst into the Public Cloud but not impossible. There are some really interesting technologies out there that enable encryption of the application and data or signing a digital fingerprint to the OS but it doesn't come without some work and lots of planning.

  • Hip or Hype? Part of the reason for the "Fog" is way too much hype and over marketing around cloud. Hard to buy in to one vendor's vision or another when they are attaching for the coolness factor and in some cases may not understand the business problems trying to be solved. Come armed with a list of requirements and demand to talk to architects that can paint a clear picture before even doing a pilot.

  • Vision or Hallucination? Some areas have GREAT ideas but without execution they are merely hallucination. How experienced are these visionaries? Have they actually done a deployment of your magnitude, have the battle scars and lumps to make sure they are not taking your business so far past the bleeding edge that you hemorrhage? There is no crystal ball but when going into new terrain is always better to bring an experienced guide that has been there/done that before.
Start Where You ARE, Know Where You want to Be and Then Jump...Much easier to course correct when you know your destination than to get lost in the fog of marketing, new products, different platforms, and vendor lock in. There are A LOT of new standards coming - stay tuned to the standards will help you shape both custom and out of the box decisions.

Good Luck!

Jeanne Morain