Thursday, Feb 10 2011

Cloud Strategy: Stop or You Will Go Blind!!

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“What we need to succeed is a good cloud strategy!”

stop-signIf this is what you are thinking or doing at the moment, then stop! Right now.  The 1990′s called and they want their IT organization back.  As a middle manager I remember sitting in an offsite meeting, with <insert big consulting firm> facilitating a two day workshop on developing our <insert latest fad> strategy. The end result was a magnificent slide deck and a beautifully bound color report.  And then nothing happened. Even worse are the “Assessments” that inspect every detail of your people, process and technology, disrupting business as usually and costing tens of thousands. I am not against collaborative working, workshops or thinking about the future, but there has to be a short-term valuable outcome.

It’s taken a couple of IT bubble bursts and a financial collapse for people to understand, what matters is execution.  It’s good to have a goal and work towards it, but spend the majority of your effort focused on the execution and let the strategy evolve over time.  How we approach the problem of IT service improvement has progrees from Waterfall to V, through RUP and RAD, becoming SigmaLean, Green and Agile, and a realization we live in a world of Kanban and Chaos. There is a trend emerging on how to deal with “cloud”.

Start execution. Move forward.

Most of us realize that “The cloud” is a marketing term capturing an inflection point in the IT industry: The collision of maturity curves for virtualization, horizontally scalable application architecture, management tools and hosting organizations, combined with the success of a little company called “Amazon.”  At best however, “The Cloud” is a draft set of architectural patterns for development and consumption of IT services.  Even the most ardent detractors cannot questioning the value of the concept, whatever you think of the reality.

Can you really say you don’t want some of these attributes (adapted from NIST v15);

  • better resource utilization
  • rapid elasticity of resources
  • self-service or at least fast provisioning
  • improved measurability and instrumentation
  • ubiquitous access

I doubt it. So what’s stopping the biggest barrier to execution? A starting point.

What you have to do about it is start implementing, as much as you need, in the area you get the most benefit.

CAUTION: If you need help and the prospective partner is offering to “define your strategy” or “provide you some education,” RUN AWAY SCREAMING.  Any form of linear – and most iterative – methods cannot get the job done. Can you really afford to invest the time and money into collecting the data and consuming the cycles required to develop a holistic cloud strategy?  Do you think for a moment that the data will be valid 6 months later when you get around to implementation?  Do you think the current “draft” definition of cloud or vendor landscape will stay the same?

What you need is someone who has the tools and skills to find the right places and the best parts to implement that have the biggest impact on your business.  Do it fast.  Do it effectively.  Show it works and provides a tangible result.  Then move on to the next stage.

As Randy Heffnerof CIO Magazine blogged,   “Rather than developing a siloed strategy for cloud, a business approach will integrate analysis of cloud and cloud-like options….”

Evolution, not revolution…

Contributed by: Brad Vaughan