3 ways to screw up a cloud project

As the saying goes, you can learn more by failing than succeeding. If that's true, there's a lot of learning going on

It's the dog days of summer, yet I see many cloud projects racing forward. Though it's vacation time, cloud projects are as plentiful as bad Hawaiian shirts on any beach in the United States.

I've heard you can learn more by failing than succeeding. If that's true, there is a whole lot of learning going on! Although there are many successful deployments of and migrations to the cloud, things are not going as well you might think.

Here are three reasons why cloud projects fail, as I've seen in my own work helping huge organizations move to the cloud:

1. The company hasn't battened down and agreed to the upfront business case. Also, the business case is overlooked entirely because it does not fit the internal narrative of the people promoting cloud. Either way, the initially targeted applications and data sets are not a good fit for cloud-based platforms, yet they are migrated anyhow to keep the project moving forward.  

2. Project leaders circumvent IT leadership and users, don't engage them early, or act like the effort doesn't belong to them. These related behaviors all have the same effect: Cut out those who must run and use the results. Not only does this undermine the cloud project from the get-go, it also jeopardizes future projects.

3. There's no reorganization plan. Organizations must change for cloud computing to work -- including reporting relationships, operations, development, and the skills mix. Change is often painful, but we've adjusted around emerging technology before. The cloud is no different. Yet many organizations do not plan for the shift, which can derail the initiative once it's deployed.

The patterns of success are easy to spot these days, but more numerous are the patterns of failure. Learn from them, so you don't repeat them in your own cloud efforts. 

And learn fast: Organizations must get smart quickly about the cloud, now that the multi-million-dollar migration and development projects are underway. The cloud will be a large part of IT going forward, so get good with the cloud now by understanding both the best and worst practices. Thus, you'll know both what to do and what not to do.

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