The downside of cloud centers of excellence

COEs are great for controlling new technologies -- but that's not what the cloud is about

I meet these people all of the time: They're charged with starting a COE (center of excellence) around the use of cloud computing in an enterprise. But will these ad hoc organizations provide the value that everyone expects?

Cloud computing is a very different animal than previous technology trends. If you've created one before, a COE might seem like the right approach, but I believe the use of cloud computing should be more of a change in how things are done, rather than a change in the technology itself.

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Indeed, cloud computing is about doing the same tasks more efficiently. For example, the cloud uses the same storage seen in data centers, but now, those systems are hosted in public clouds. The same goes with app dev and test on PaaS (platform-as-a-service) clouds and in using SaaS (software-as-a-service) instead of costly enterprise applications.

The problem is that COEs by their very existence want to define new technology -- and the best use of it -- in the enterprise. In other words, they want to control the adoption process as if the technology were a jarring shift. Again, cloud computing is all about doing the same things, but in a more efficient manner.

Because COEs typically will want to control most new uses of cloud computing within the enterprise, they actually make the use of cloud computing technology harder. This may slow down the adoption process and reduce the speed to cloud computing's payoff.

Enterprises should hire employees and consultants who understand how to create a cloud computing strategy and how to implement cloud computing offerings. They shouldn't waste time and money on a cloud COE.

This article, "The downside of cloud centers of excellence," 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 © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.