Beware of cloud computing consultants who focus on infrastructure

The rise of cloud computing has led to a lot of 'consultants' who care more about the simple relocation of systems than real architecture

Along with the rapid rise of cloud computing, an army of people with the phrase "cloud computing consultant" on their business cards has arrived. However, many of these individuals, while well intentioned, come from the infrastructure side and have a tendency to miss the core value of cloud computing. They disregard the potential for the cloud computing to better support the business, and instead view it simply as a change of platforms.

Let me be very clear: The movement toward cloud computing is an architectural issue, meaning that you have to take the whole business into account, understand all existing systems at a detail level, and only then begin to consider cloud computing options. Moreover, you need to think about how the systems are divided among on-premise and cloud-delivered platforms, the synergy of the architecture with the mission, and the future needs of the business.

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However, many consultants approach cloud computing as an infrastructure-only issue. They don't consider the whole business, including mission and objectives, or core attributes of each system, new or old. For them, it's more about how you're moving and to where, not what you're moving and why. There is a huge difference.

So how do you know if the cloud computing consultants knocking on your door are more interested in infrastructure changes than architecture changes? I have a few ways to tell:

They mention or another popular cloud computing provider in the first meeting. They already have a solution in their back pocket, without understanding much about your business or the "as is" architecture. Again, they are looking at this as a platform change, not as an adjustment in architecture.

They don't seem to care about the core business. Business needs and context drive your IT strategy and implementation approach, including any architectural changes such as the movement to cloud computing. Without an understanding of the business, you can't support it using IT resources, clouds or no clouds.

They don't present core architectural artifacts. These artifacts include governance models, security models, performance models, process models, data models, and perhaps a service decomposition diagram or two. Instead, they present network topologies and Visio diagrams depicting physical systems. Those are fine for the infrastructure component of your cloud strategy, but by themselves they do not address data, governance, security, and so on. Thus, they lack the foundations to make any meaningful IT changes, including a migration to cloud computing platforms.

This story, "Beware of cloud computing consultants who focus on infrastructure," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in cloud computing at


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