Shape up before heading to the cloud

If you plan to implement cloud computing, get your IT assets under control prior to making the move

Enterprises looking to implement cloud computing typically have numerous issues that they hope the move to the cloud will magically solve. It's no surprise that many of today's IT shops face a huge number of negatives: overly complex enterprise architecture, out-of-control data sprawl, and a huge backlog of app dev work that's not being met, typically in an environment of diminishing budgets.

Newer technology approaches like cloud computing have the potential to make things better. However, it's clear to me that cloud computing won't save you unless you get your own IT house in order first. I see this pattern over and over.

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The problem comes when enterprises try to push data, processes, and applications outside the firewall without regard for their states. Thus, they end up placing poorly defined, poorly designed, and poorly developed IT assets into public and private clouds only to find that not much changes other than where the assets are hosted.

Sorry to be the buzzkill here. To make cloud computing work for your enterprise, you need to drive significant changes in the existing on-premise systems before or as you move to cloud. This means that you redesign database systems so that they're much less complex and more meaningful to the business problems, invest in process change and optimization, and even normalize the hundreds of stovepipe applications pulled into the enterprise over the years.

Of course, the problem with this necessary approach is that it could take years to complete at a significant cost. As a result, most of those in charge of IT try to make the end run to the cloud -- and hope for the best. As I say in my talks, the crap in the enterprise moved to clouds is just crap in the cloud.

This article, "Shape up before heading to the cloud," 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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