Working Through the Immutable Laws of the Cloud

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Five Mistakes Companies Make in Their Cloud Strategies

Learn how to capture the full potential of the cloud.

The cloud may be the latest and greatest computing technology to come along, but that doesn't mean it isn't subject to the same laws of logic and nature that govern the rest of the universe.


And one of those laws is that there is a right way and a wrong way to perform every task, or, judging by my own personal experiences, there is an infinite number of wrong ways and only one right way.


To apply this thinking to the cloud, it's important to take stock of what the cloud is and is not. And according to OpSource CEO Treb Ryan, one of the first mistakes most CIOs make is in thinking that the cloud is merely an extension of existing infrastructure. In fact, the cloud is an entirely new, and unique, data environment that will ultimately drive its own set of applications and business models. Failure to recognize this new paradigm increases the risk that the cloud infrastructure being deployed today will be mostly useless as the technology unfolds over the next decade.


One way to avoid this fate is to focus more on the qualitative aspects of the cloud rather than the functional ones, according to IBM's John Graham. This could be a difficult transition for many techies because functionality is where all the excitement is - the technology and systems that drive cloud operations and efficiencies. But if you look at the leading causes of cloud failure, they are all qualitative in nature, encompassing things like availability, security and privacy. In the end, quality trumps functionality because it is the only way to ensure overall infrastructure integrity.


Of course, one of the worst things a CIO can do is nothing, says ZDNet's Jack Clark. Like it or not, the cloud is coming your way, if not at IT's direction than at individual business units'. A common trap is for enterprises to fail to keep ahead of the cloud because it does not deliver an immediate change to internal infrastructure. Once C-level executives get a taste of Google Docs or Dropbox, however, the floodgates open wide and IT finds it has a real management problem on its hands.


What, then, is the right approach? Well, as I mentioned, the pitfalls are numerous, but according to HP's E.G. Nadhan and Switch's Mark Thiele, there are five key elements to a strategic cloud infrastructure. These include a service-oriented architecture, a cloud management infrastructure, a data/information regime, as well as policy and governance strategies. Details in each of these areas will vary by enterprise, but at least this provides a basic framework for effective cloud management and development.



CIOs should also keep in mind that cloud computing is in its infancy and is likely to see any number of permutations before all is said and done. And even though it represents technology at its most cutting edge, it would be wise to resist the temptation to deploy cloud infrastructure on that basis alone.


In the end, it's solutions that matter, not technology.



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May 23, 2012 2:50 AM Jon-Michael C. Brook, CISSP, CCSK Jon-Michael C. Brook, CISSP, CCSK  says:

Arthur, your point about CIOs who fail to keep ahead of the cloud, finding themselves with a real management problem once business units get a taste of the cloud is definitely a good one. This may manifest in rogue cloud deployments. Recent research from the IT Policy Compliance Group found that 54% of organizations do not know how many cloud computing projects are underway in their organization and, in some cases, the only way these organizations find cloud services operating is after finance identifies orders and payments from invoices. The ease and instantaneous ability to turn-on cloud applications is occurring without IT being aware of the cloud services until well after orders are placed. Shadow IT, as many call it, can put valuable business information at risk. Cloud computing needs to be implemented strategically across an organization in order to manage risk to your valuable business information and realize the benefits you're trying to achieve with cloud. Ultimately, this requires that the shift to the cloud be supported at the C-level with a central architecture developed by IT departments that understand the business goals and create a plan to achieve them.

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