Successful cloud adoption: It's the fit, stupid

The way to make cloud computing successful is to find the business problems that make sense to attack

InfoWorld's IT advice columnist Bob Lewis reached out to me last week after my blog post "How AWS can conquer enterprise IT's resistance to public clouds" with a few ideas. He suggested we should take a page out of the early PC and Web playbooks to help readers understand how to match up the new technology with the old problems. For example, we could use Amazon Web Services -- or any cloud computing technology -- to address business problems that would be impractical to deploy on traditional IT platforms.

Indeed, cloud computing providers tend to push their technology as the solution to any and all business problems. Unfortunately, there is not a universal fit for cloud computing technology, so you have to be careful to match the business problem you're looking to solve with the technology that best addresses it. To paraphrase James Carville, the political strategist for former President Bill Clinton, it's the fit, stupid.

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In all their hype around cloud computing, the providers portray all public, private, and hybrid cloud computing technology as the way to get IT to the promised land, whatever that might be. However, the geography on the ground does not change, so organizations deploying cloud computing make disappointing discoveries:

  • In some instances, the value is not there. A cloud computing solution may end up costing more and providing less than the traditional IT technology. Such cases are typical, but you have to run the numbers before considering the cloud.
  • Larger organizations are often a tougher fit for cloud computing. They have an investment in hardware and software, and they frequently find that migrating from traditional systems to cloud-based systems adds too much risk and cost.

Cloud computing is not special in the fact that the fit varies, so make sure to learn from the mistakes and the successes of the past, including the rise of the PC and of the Internet. Although both are universally useful, there were attempts made to push those then-new, shiny technologies at old, rusty problems. Those fails are legendary.

Overall, cloud computing is a good move for most organizations, both large and small. But fight the urge to push it at everything and anything.

This article, "Successful cloud adoption: It's the fit, stupid," originally appeared at Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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