A surefire recipe for cloud failure

Too often, IT leads with the technology and overlooks the other ingredients in a cloud rollout: planning, strategy, architecture

We love new technology, whether in the form of software or devices, though planning, strategy, and architecture aren't as universally adored. But if you don't understand both, you can count on huge project disasters as you move into the cloud. Unfortunately, far too many in IT are blindly in love with technology, especially as they consider the new-to-them cloud. I see this problem every day, so please heed this friendly warning.

Foundational planning for the use of cloud computing is an architectural problem. You need to consider the enterprise holistically, starting with the applications, data, services, and storage. Understand where it is and what it does.

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Next, create a cost model around what you're spending now. Make sure to list and define any inefficiencies with the "as is" state of items. These inefficiencies typically harm the business on a daily basis, such as the inability to access the right customer data at the right time.

Now, list the inefficiencies in priority order, from the worst to the not so bad. You're going to attack them in that progression. Only then should you take a hard look at the application of cloud computing technology, including the basic patterns that are required to address the needs of the enterprise, such as IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS.

Once the planning is complete, you should have a three- to five-year plan that defines the sequencing of the projects, including resources and costs. However, the technology that is used -- cloud computing or not -- for each project is up to the project team, with some standards and guidance from the enterprise architect (if you have one).

I hate to break the news to you, but the cloud computing technology you use, whether public or private, is largely dependent on the problem domain. If you don't consider the technology in light of the requirements, you'll misalign the technology -- and fail.

However, feel free to set up labs to do proofs of concept, if you have the money. They're always helpful and provide good feedback on the true use of technology.

The risk now is that enterprises are rushing into cloud computing without understanding the technology in relation to the problems they should be solving. The planning requirements are not cumbersome, but they are necessary for success.

This article, "A surefire recipe for cloud failure," 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.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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