Look Before Taking Cloud Computing Leap

Michael Vizard

One of the assumptions about cloud computing is that it's basically a simple matter of choosing an application workload and finding the best place to host it from a pricing perspective. But now all cloud computing services are created equal, and there are many issues related to security, governance and identity management that need to be worked out. And if truth be told, more often than not, an IT organization is going to discover that an application workload sitting behind a corporate firewall today is not in any real shape to be exposed to the outside world.

We're starting to see IT organizations take a more thoughtful approach to cloud computing that includes a full internal review of the readiness of any given application workload to be run in a cloud computing environment. In response to those needs, we're all starting to see vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and a host of others roll out cloud computing assessment services. And while some might consider those assessment services to be a waste of time and money, the fact that they cover so much of the IT infrastructure means that IT organizations that take this step before embracing the cloud are likely to discover all kinds of things about the robustness of their application environments that they didn't know before. Or put another way, it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to cloud computing.

Archie Reed, a distinguished technologist for HP, advises customers to create a structured roadmap for cloud computing adoption that clearly defines the ultimate future state they are trying to achieve, how the reporting systems will be defined, and what the specific return on investment metrics are going to be for each application workload moving into the cloud. Once that's in place, the security requirements for that application workload need to be defined in detail.

Right now, it feels like there is a rush to cloud computing, especially as pricing continues to drop. But like all things related to enterprise IT, an IT organization is going to be a whole lot better off in the long run if it takes a few months to take a good long look in the mirror before deciding to jump off the cloud computing cliff with everybody else. What they are likely to discover is that while cloud computing is attractive, they will need to do a significant amount of work on their applications before they are truly ready to run as a service in the cloud.

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