Think through your cloud plans -- or else

Enterprise IT has a disturbing tendency to get excited about technology rather than architecture and planning

Most enterprise IT organizations focus more on technology than on thinking -- a sad tendency I've often pointed out. Thus, I was happy to see InfoQ's Mark Little review an article by Steve Jones of CapGemini. Both see the same lack of thought in how enterprises use technology. In fact, it's worse than not thinking -- there's an active dislike of deeper consideration that gets expressed as ignoring or even disparaging planning, architecture, and design in IT.

This sorry state is quite evident as cloud computing begins to take hold in the standard IT technology arsenal. The fact of the matter is that there are two worlds. One involves the hype and good feelings about next-gen IT, such as cloud computing, that tells us the technology itself will save us from the mistakes of the past. Then there's the world of planning, architecture, and design that makes the technology actually useful -- despite IT's aversion to this crucial stage.

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Ironically, the past mistakes that the new technology will supposedly solve were largely caused by a lack of planning, architecture, and design -- it's that same naive tendency to chase after the latest hyped technology. PCs, client/server, distributed objects, ERP, and so on all offered new ways to do old things. But the lack of thinking around how to use these technologies effectively led to more complexity and less efficiency -- the opposite of the quick-fix magic we imagined.

This problem is not the fault of the hyped technology, nor of those who build and sell it. In many cases, the hyped technology works. Cloud computing is no exception. No, the blame lies with us in IT for succumbing to that magical thinking and the belief that new technology will wipe away our past problems and create a fantasy land of goodness. Funny enough, many in IT criticize users for the same thinking when they fall in love with iPhones, the latest version of Windows, or whatever new technology has gained their attention.

The core issue in IT is that the use of best practices such as architecture and design, which typically ensure success, are largely considered roadblocks as we run from one technology to another. Sadly, despite IT's common view of design and architecture as hindrances to productivity, they result in the exact opposite: better productivity and usage.

I suspect many IT professionals agree with me on this issue, but they're afraid to speak up, given the prevailing anti-intellectual culture. We'll see -- as we have with past "miracle" technologies -- many cloud computing projects on downward trajectories due to the lack of architecture and design. Many of these failed projects will end up back at the drawing board -- where they should've started in the first place.

This article, "Think through your cloud plans -- or else," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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