Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Technology-centric approach to Enterprise Cloud Computing doesn’t work

There is a lot of Internet chatter and conversation on Cloud Computing.  Since 2007, Google Trends shows growing increase in Cloud search keywords:

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Majority of these articles and posts though are primarily focused on technologies (i.e. virtualization, dynamic provisioning, security, management & automation, metering & chargeback) that enable building a Cloud infrastructure or platform.  Technology decisions and effective implementation are absolutely necessary, but building, operating, offering, and managing a Cloud transcend technology. 

Cloud Computing doesn’t arrive in a box of CDs.  It is an evolution in IT competency and operational model (i.e. Incident Management, Asset Management, Configuration Management, Change Management, Performance & Capacity Management, SLA Management).  A technology-centric approach to Cloud Computing does not address IT operational gaps.

One of the fundamental requirements for Cloud transition is IT standardization.  Standardization is key to IT simplification and cost reduction, and requires an analysis of both IT and application portfolio.  In this regard, an analysis of the various workloads, performance characteristics, HW/SW compatibility & infrastructure requirements, application strategy such as any decommissioning, re-hosting, or outsourcing plans,… and review of enterprise architecture are necessary to establish standard configuration templates.  Without such an analysis, it would be very difficult to determine the right set of services to offer in the enterprise.  A technology-centric approach to Cloud Computing does not address IT standardization.

As I said in a previous post, there are different entry-points to Cloud Computing.   There are a couple of implications here.  First, organizations choose different strategies and approaches for IT cloudification based on their priorities.   Second, organizations are at different levels of IT maturity.  Some may have experience building and running CoEs. Some may have experience operating & managing shared services centers. Finally, some may already be running a Cloud (or have already implemented an on-demand and utility-based shared infrastructure way before the term “Cloud” was in vogue.) So, there is a lot of considerations in terms of organizational maturity, alignment, change management that are essential to a successful Cloud transition. These are not addressed by a technology-focused approach to Cloud Computing.

These were just some examples.  So, next time when you get a visit from a vendor, showing you a quick demo of 1000-node cluster, with dynamic scaling may be including spillover to EC2, a nice management interface, etc, a question to consider is how do I operationalize this? 

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