Calling All Cloud Computing Coordinators

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

Is Your Cloud Provider Enterprise-Ready?

10 questions that IT organizations should be asking cloud computing providers before signing on the dotted line.

One of the challenges with cloud computing is that within most IT organizations nobody is really in charge of it. There's usually a CIO somewhere setting strategy, a CTO making technology decisions, and a raft of server, storage and networking specialists, all of which generally do their own thing in the service of the application owners.

The trouble today with that perspective is that many application owners are enamored with cloud computing without really understanding its implications. All they know is that some cloud computing service provider promised them they would run their applications for theoretically less on modern infrastructure with a whole lot less hassle. Of course, nobody stopped to explain to them the economic costs of cloud computing. In addition, they totally skipped the whole part about how if you really want cloud computing to work for you, then you might want to think about writing your applications in a way that takes advantage of multiple zones of server availability, or, better yet, fail gracefully so as to not to have to ever experience a total systems outage.

At the Cloud Connect conference this week, Steve Riley, technical leader in the office of the CTO at Riverbed Technology and a former senior technical program manager at Amazon, will take these and other cloud computing issues on during several events at the conference. The real issue, says Riley, is how to create a meaningful service-level agreement (SLA) in the age of cloud computing. The problem with most SLAs from cloud computing providers is that they are based on server availability rather than the actual experience of the customer. That's particularly troublesome, noted Riley, when you think about how the wide area network is typically the weakest link in the cloud.

But because no one in IT is in charge of cloud computing, there is no coordination between the application owners and the specialists who manage IT infrastructure. Unlike a lot of folks calling for a fundamental reorganization of IT, Riley says that customers that were most successful with cloud computing during his tenure were those that had put somebody in charge of the overall cloud computing strategy. Whether that person was just a cloud computing coordinator or "enterprise orchestrator," the fact that the person was tasked with figuring out what application workloads should run on premise and what should run in the cloud made a huge difference when it came to creating meaningful SLAs around a successful cloud computing deployment.

There are a lot of competing interests both inside and outside the organization when it comes to cloud computing. The simple fact of the matter is that just about everyone in IT today is too parochial to make an unbiased decision about cloud computing because they usually have their own ax to grind. That means the time has come to appoint an arbiter within your organization to make unbiased recommendations about when and where to deploy cloud computing. The trick is going to be to make sure that they are technically savvy enough to command the respect of the organization and that they are not compensated in any way that would unduly influence their recommendation. After all, we all know compensation drives behavior, so if you want people to behave right, make sure it is in their interest to do so.

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