To win with cloud computing, change IT first

For a successful cloud implementation, IT must prepare ahead of time and not merely adjust after the fact

Most organizations consider the move to cloud-based platforms as simple additions to the existing portfolio of IT systems. However, if internal IT does not change around the usage of most cloud services, enterprise IT won't get the full benefits. Indeed, many initial uses of cloud computing resources in such organizations will end up in failure. The dirty little secret is that most of the change to IT needs to occur before the first implementation to make cloud computing holistically successful.

But most IT organizations are not wired that way. IT doesn't like to prepare ahead of time; it would much rather react. Thus, when cloud storage is adopted, for example, enterprise IT spends the months after the migration trying to adjust internal systems to take full advantage of the new cloud storage resources. The result is less than optimal, resulting in another silo with patchwork links to other core enterprise systems.

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To avoid this fate, follow these two core rules:

First, any addition or replacement of an enterprise IT resource (storage, compute, and so on) requires enough preparation so that IT resources can become at least 90 percent productive after a shift to a cloud service, whether IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS. This means you've done enough configuration and development so that existing core business systems can exploit the value of this cloud computing service right away. This is a tactical move, but essential nonetheless.

Second, there needs to be an ongoing holistic enterprise architecture program that considers the use of cloud-based services. The use of cloud computing needs to exist in a much larger plan, not tacked on or added in isolation. But most enterprise architecture departments may not have the control required to truly drive the systemic and longer-term changes that will make cloud computing effective. This is a strategic move, but few organizations acknowledge or enable it.

You'd think these suggestions are common sense, but experience shows they are not. The reality of corporate politics and budget cycles means that these rules, even if known, tyically fall by the wayside. That needs to change if we're going to make the cloud work.

This article, "To win with cloud computing, change IT first," 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.