Many of us are looking at the adoption of cloud as just another technology, and are leaving decisions on how to adopt, own, and manage the cloud up to engineers. But acquiring a cloud management platform is not an engineering decision — it’s a strategic one.


As an IT community we are still stuck in the past relative to the strategic nature of cloud. Many of us are looking at the adoption of cloud as just another technology, and are leaving the decisions on how to adopt, own, and manage the cloud up to engineers. But acquiring a cloud management platform is not an engineering decision — it’s a strategic one. Do engineers need to be involved? Yes, but your cloud adoption strategy has already failed if you don’t treat cloud as the operational construct that it is.

I wrote “Cloud management, what’s the big deal” a little over a year ago and the good news is many more of us now at least acknowledge the need for robust management tools. The problem is, we still think of them as “tools”. Cloud management isn’t just a pretty wrapper that you put on top of virtualization to make it easier to use, and it’s not a few scripts that automate builds or scaling functions. Cloud management is a platform that allows the cloud(s) owner to express their company’s directives and policies effectively and safely onto their myriad technology solutions and across international borders.

Why the cloud management platform you choose is so important

Like any software that solves a problem or creates an opportunity (often one and the same), a cloud management platform should be acquired only after defining a clear set of requirements. The requirements should be defined with the CIO and I’ve explained why after each requirement. A cloud management platform should:

Be capable of managing a variety of clouds – A strategic vision for where and how clouds will be adopted or dropped is important for a number of reasons: avoiding lock-in, the ability to retrieve data in a usable format, finding the appropriate cloud platform for the expected workload and location. Depending on the business you’re in you may use partnerships and or competitive concerns as a decision factor in your multi-cloud strategy.

Handle data security and location – Do your systems administrators have access to corporate strategy around locations and data privacy requirements? What about HIPAA or other regulatory concerns? If they don’t even recognize this as an area of concern, why would they look for it in a management tool?

Take care of policy management across clouds – Your architects and engineers might be terrific, but are you sure they are the best ones to determine the value of having a common and simplified set of tools for managing policy and governance across your images and across different clouds? Policy considerations can take into account everything from privacy to security, to performance and lifecycle depending on the platform you choose.

Include well-developed role-based security – While your engineers and infrastructure leaders are more than capable of handling security decisions for team access to a cloud management platform, are they the right group to determine how customers (developer or end-user) and partners might access your cloud?

Incorporate a virtual machine security suite – This is an area where the CIO likely doesn’t need much involvement, but there should be a senior security role involved in the project.

Consider the full life cycle from creation to deletion – Unfortunately, most of us in the trenches don’t think about whether the images we create today should be reviewed six months from now? Ensuring you have a solid life cycle approach will help you develop a more efficient use pattern and reduce the risk of inappropriate resource use.

Integrate with operations platforms (monitoring, billing, etc.) – The effort to define these requirements will mostly fall on the technical team, but feedback from management about expectations of monitoring and billing etc., is still critical.

Offer APIs for common tools and scripting languages – Mostly a technical/architectural decision, with the exception of integration that might enable out of the box opportunity, there might be value in having a larger team, including leadership involved.

The above isn’t a complete list of considerations in the evaluation of an appropriate cloud management platform, just serious food for thought. However, of what’s missing above, the most critical element of all includes thinking about how a cloud management platform should complement and re-orient your IT organization.

Where the rubber meets the road!

The CIO needs to consider a ground up redo of the organization, how it delivers IT services and how it integrates with the business at the function and end-user customer level. Admit it; you weren’t thinking that these organizational changes were a factor in your requirements and prioritization process for acquiring a cloud management platform.

Of course, the aforementioned needs aren’t necessary if all you want is a shiny set of tools or some home-grown scripts to handle your cloud. Tools and scripts which won’t scale, aren’t standardized, won’t work across clouds and will likely be developed differently by each IT group in your enterprise.

The delivery of IT is different. The old ways are gone. The addition of cloud to your organization isn’t an opportunity to do the same old things faster, it’s an opportunity to deliver functionally improved IT services in real-time to your business.

How will you deliver in real-time if you still work through a traditional helpdesk process? Or maybe because you haven’t figured out how to integrate billing, you still have business or IT groups who want to “pay” for their servers. What about the purchasing process or the approval process for a new application?

This isn’t just more tech bells and whistles

In modern IT you should be able to test, fail, test, fail, test, and implement in less time and for less money than one effort in the past. In light of the improved application adoption options, a change in how you review and approve ideas is also important. In other words, why send a project to the executive team for review, when you could run a proof of concept in a matter of days or hours and actually demonstrate the value almost immediately at little or no cost.

OK, maybe there are more bells and whistles, but treating cloud like a technology solution purchase is the wrong approach. Take a holistic approach to how IT can and should participate in the business of doing whatever your company does, then build the operational model to support that. Seek alignment in your organization and in your technology choices so you’re prepared for a Cloud Operating model and Fluid IT. Welcome to the modern IT world.

Mark Thiele is executive VP of Data Center Tech at Switch, the operator of the SuperNAP data center in Las Vegas. Thiele blogs at SwitchScribe and at Data Center Pulse, where is also president and founder. .He can be found on Twitter at @mthiele10.

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  1. Fascinating and valuable perspective, thanks!

    “Include well-developed roll-based security”

    Did you mean “role-based”?

    1. Thank you for the comment and good catch. Yes, it was supposed to be “role-based”.

      1. Stacey Higginbotham Mark Thiele Monday, May 7, 2012

        Fixed. I must have been hungry while editing.

      2. Brett (cloud computer expert) Mark Thiele Friday, May 11, 2012

        Stacey’s response is funny :-) On a more serious note, as someone who regularly provides clients with advice on cloud solutions what a great article.

  2. Reblogged this on Webeconoscenza and commented:
    Articolo di Gigaom molto interessante sulle strategie che accompagnano la scelta del cloud.

  3. I Am OnDemand Sunday, May 6, 2012

    Mark – Thanks ! great piece (as always). AS you mentioned these requirements are not the only factors for getting yourself the right Cloud Management solution – one important point that I would have add is the > SLA auditing and measurement.

    Cloud adoption must come with clear understanding on how the new environment will be managed. As you mentioned, CIOs that see cloud as an evolution use their traditional IT tools and expertise to control their new bulk of endless virtual resources. Eventually they find themselves lost when the “surprising” high cost alerts (the new monitoring ?! :) ).


  4. Alex Jauch Sunday, May 6, 2012

    Excellent article, thanks!

    Totally agree that a technical approach to Private Cloud is too limited to drive successful cloud deployments.

    This is one reason why I wrote “Why we Fail” which is focused on the business model changes you need to make when deploying private cloud: http://amzn.to/alexjauch


  5. Don Turnblade, MBA, MS, CISSP Sunday, May 6, 2012

    Also, the legal controls such as forensic images of a cloud incident by unrelated parties that just happens to capture your data in the image. Do those lawyers even know your data needs special compliance treatments?

  6. Mayuresh Jehurkar Monday, May 7, 2012

    Great Article! Thanks for the insights!
    With innovative platforms, like ComputeNext(www.computenext.com), coming up it definitely makes life easier for a comparative analysis for collaborative decision making by the management and technical teams for purchasing “right resources @ right price”.
    Auditing, Billing, Resource management, Tracking probably covers all.
    However, interesting thing to watch would be how the industry behaves to this new wave .. coz this wave is taking it up in the “Cloud”

  7. Mike Speranza Monday, May 7, 2012

    Good article. However, I felt most of the points used in the article were technical arguments/points used to support a management vision: that cloud is not a tactical solution, it’s part of the corporate strategy. In that sense, probably points like cost, elasticity of service and other management pros/const would have been more appropriate.
    In the current format, it does feel like the article is addressing to a converted technical audience.

    1. Mike – Good point, though I find it valuable as well to explain what actions and considerations should be taken in order to support support strategic plans.

      1. I have to agree with Mike. The issue of governance even in the cloud shouldn’t be ignored by CIO. The difference of cloud infrastructure to traditional infrastructure for upper management is being able to manage real-time operating costs more closely. But let the butcher trim the fat if you want lean meat… choosing which platform, API, security, and overall implementation will most likely be handled by the people who manage such now (as they can estimate the friction involved more closely)

  8. Daniel Steeves Monday, May 7, 2012

    Reblogged this on DanielSteeves and commented:
    The title says it all: give this one a read!

  9. David A. Smith Monday, May 7, 2012

    Very good article!

    It highlights that companies need to incorporate a suite of cloud solutions to remain competitive. He states, “The CIO needs to consider a ground up redo of the organization, how it delivers IT services and how it integrates with the business at the function and end-user customer level.”

    He also emphasizes the need for continuous service improvement with his comments, “In modern IT you should be able to test, fail, test, fail, test, and implement in less time and for less money than one effort in the past. In light of the improved application adoption options, a change in how you review and approve ideas is also important. In other words, why send a project to the executive team for review, when you could run a proof of concept in a matter of days or hours and actually demonstrate the value almost immediately at little or no cost.”

    1. Dave..Good comments…. As a 45 year veteran of IT in the trenches,experiencing several “evolutions” of technology, I would be skeptical of any “proof of concept in a matter of days or hours that actually demonstrates the value almost immediately at little or no cost.” My experience with “Proof of concept” has been pretty good when used to test validity for the technical aspects, but falls short when attempting to extrapolate the validity relationship to the anticipated new business system! To assure a minimum of problems, delays, and restarts, Be sure that the system analysts, system analysts, and programmer team leaders employees are current employees who have been with your firm a minimum of two years (preferably three to five years). Put extra effort and time into developing the system specifications (emphasizing in detail the new system processes with sign offs with all affected people).
      Do not authorize ANY programming until the new business system has been reviewed and approved by all affected parties. Extra time applied during the design phase pays off handsomely during the programming and testing phase! You MIGHT bring up a system without doing these things, but I can assure you, the system will be not be on schedule, will be plagued by “bugs” and false starts, and will be over budget even with a topnotch technical staff. System excellence begins and ends with the system design!

  10. Michael Hoffman, Inc Monday, May 7, 2012

    I appreciate the candor of your blog. Many of the cloud salesmen I see blogging these days are pushing the spiked kool-aid on executives rather than addressing an actual problem. As you mentioned, the considerations you noted are not all-encompassing, but I was surprised not to see the implications of taxes for moving to the cloud. What are your thoughts on this topic? From what I have read, there are state to state implications that may impact the move towards cloud. SLA is the other obvious consideration that I feel needs to be looked at it with a pessimistic eye. There have been many failures to date, the American Eagle commerce site being the most visible for me. Any failures of this magnitude can make or break a CIO’s career or put you at significant risk of legal action. I wholeheartedly agree that a move towards cloud as an IT strategy rather than a technology requires direction from the top down. It is just going to take time to adopt. I look at cloud much like I looked at SOA. Eight years ago, I had one salesman after another coming to my executives telling them how they had to redo all their systems to be service based. It took time, patterns evolved, products matured and now SOA has become the norm rather than the exception in product development.

    1. Hi Michael, thanks for the comments, much appreciated. As you mentioned, I didn’t attempt to cover every concern. Legal & taxation risks are two serious areas of opportunity and concern. Generically, if you’re using public cloud I think taxation issues are minimal. However, legal issues around data location, recover-ability, HIPAA, & other regulatory concerns is real. Happy to chat more if interested.

      1. Chandrashekhar Tanwani Mark Thiele Friday, May 11, 2012

        Thanks for thought provoking article. If we look back to the SOA and EA evolution, though these were Technology related concepts, these impacted the business and operation model of whole Enterprise, and so required the attention of Business Folks and CxOs as well. But with ‘Cloud’ that is not the case. It does affect the operations of IT department alone and not the whole Organization. The change can be transparent to Business or End customers without major ‘change management’ issues. Though ‘Cloud’ imlementation raises some legal and security issues but that means the CIOs need to learn these aspects also and some new policy measures need to be defined but it still can remain ‘IT only’ initiative with economic benfits passed to the business.

  11. Maybe its just me, but if you own your cloud, then we are really talking about your corporate network. It seems like the real challenge of ‘the cloud’ is that fortune 3000 is buying hosted services outside their firewall. Am I missing something or was ‘cloud’ such a cool word that people had to pull it back inside the firewall so they could have fun too.

    1. David, The issue isn’t whether a cloud is internal or external, but rather that cloud technology while important in what it enables, is just a technology. The opportunity is in how the organization as a whole leverages cloud. Leveraging cloud is much more than some added efficiency or scale, it’s people, speed to market, M&A, new products & services, organizational alignment and much more. Lastly, the likelihood that any business will be using just one cloud (public or private) is very small, unless they are an SMB, so a strong management strategy is necessary to guide in a common fashion how all the clouds are utilized and secured, etc., etc.

      1. I’m just lamenting the loss of the term. ‘Cloud’ could have meant ‘hosted by a third party outside our firewall’ and the risk/reward trade-offs that come with that. If ‘cloud’ just means ‘not on my local machine’, you are correct in asserting that it is just a technology. In fact it is essentially the same client server, portal and networking technology that we have had for decades before the term ‘cloud’ was coined. The challenge is that we will need a new term to describe what companies are taking on when they allow third parties to host critical aspects of their technology services and proprietary data outside of their own firewalls.

  12. Michael Kord, PMP Monday, May 7, 2012

    Great Article and very timely!!

  13. Devi Mazumdar Monday, May 7, 2012

    It is disturbing to see how many businesses move their entire infrastructure to the cloud irrespective of what their business needs dictate. As IT solutions provider, our job is to “prescribe the right medicine to the patient”, while guiding them to a healthier and happier future through strategic technology deployment, informed by early adopters.

    1. Agreed. The reason for this article stems from my conversation with folks who have the wrong team members determining what’s important in solution selection.

  14. Just Visiting Monday, May 7, 2012

    Interesting perspective… but it falls short of a strategic position. Everything in your article is correct, but its simply the symptom of a more fundamental issues.

    CIOs are right, cloud is an extension of their standard portfolio of hammers, screws and nails. How can anyone expect a CIO to take a strategic view when cloud products are packaged and sold as rivets? The “real” value behind cloud computing is challenging to achieve.

    There are several reasons,, Analysts and bloggers focus on hype more than the less glamorous meat and potatoes infrastructures that delivers core value.

    Companies (outside of the telcos), accomplished infrastructure providers, fund meaningless open technologies with chest beating, and a feeling of self-wonderfulness with the hope of good will and accelerating adoption. Too bad open technologies just create more screws and nails and not value. Any initiatives building value delivery, goes unfunded.

    SDOs, mutual benefit standards organizations, exist for the benefit of their members, mostly manufactures and global integrator. They only invest in works that better their positions in the market, not the customer’s.

    CIOs and staff are not usually part of those clubs and don’t contribute to their futures. There an saying “You can’t complain about the election if you don’t vote”

    Cloud will always be considered a tactical solution because it is a tactical product !! Along with all the other silo’d point solutions.

    The strategic value needed today is not IT management, cloud computing, virtualization or any other of a million point solutions.

    Value, core value is in a strategic delivery infrastructure. It doesn’t exist today.. Not because we don’t know how to build it.. Its not in our hands because it goes unfunded. Why ?

    Most of the technologies are challenging to orchestrate and choreograph. Mid-range providers cannot afford to build it themselves and must move to a funded open source model. Funding requires partnerships.

    If the partnerships become mutually benefit foundations, its no better than the SDOs. Open, customer focused initiatives are unfunded because it reduces consulting revenues, further commoditizes virtualization technologies, providers that can benefit are busy chasing hype and beneficiaries take a passive roles hoping the ‘market” will magically help them and don’t contribute to initiatives that reduce their costs.

    One hope are the telcos, if they can move quick enough. It won’t be open source, and with the proper guidance, it will get the job done.

    Yeah, its a hard nut to swallow.

  15. Dennis Kilian Monday, May 7, 2012

    I like the article. I was sort of curious about your last paragragh. Are you saying that IT should be able to develop POCs faster as a result of adopting a cloud strategy? I am also curious about the idea of developing a POC prior to taking it to the executive team. Test what? Implement what? I understand the value of a POC, but developing a POC based on what, if not input from the executives who interface with different stakeholders?

    1. What I’m trying to say regarding POCs is simply that with simplified resource creation/deletion IT is in a better spot to search for alternatives to current tech or find new solutions and test them in a low risk environment. This testing would be regardless of where the idea/need was generated from. What I’m not saying is that all ideas should come from the business or vice versa.

  16. A well written article, thanks for the contribution.

    In truth all major technology shifts merit being reviewed from a perspective of more than just the pure technology itself. Any technology of value gains that value from the fact it enhances or impacts the way we work and what we are able to achieve. When those basic elements are altered it is necessary to consider the impact across the organization.

    Cloud computing is more than just simple – more/better/faster – it alters the style, reach and depth of collaborative work between people.

  17. Harry Quackenboss Monday, May 7, 2012


    Insightful article. One area you touch on is the importance of the whole life-cycle. I find many people don’t appreciate how much of an impact the amount of time it takes on the life-cycle front-end (from approval to in production) and on the back end (from the deletion decision to getting it off the books) has on the cost of a project. Whether it is hardware or virtual, with today’s shortened useful life, two weeks or more here and there can have a double-digit percentage impact on project cost.

    Effective management systems and processes should be able to reduce this.

  18. janinekromhout Monday, May 7, 2012

    Nice article. It’s great to see something written about the cloud that mentions data security.

  19. Chris Leigh-Currill Monday, May 7, 2012

    As ever a great article. I whole heartedly agree with your message and it is very close to what we are driving at over at Ospero. We are especially aware of the considerations to data protection and location issues for businesses operating inside Europe.
    However one observation I would like to make is that in many businesses they have the additional challenge of the ingrained siloed development culture, very prevalent in banks, where there are lots of big concurrent IT projects reporting to different people with budget. Each one of these projects will make the decisions best for project delivery and this will lead to many different technologies being used. For example I have worked in places where one project has chosen Business Objects for their BI tool and another MS Reporting services, both decisions were correct for the project but which one was right for the business? This is especially hard as both technologies were being used and so either was a valid choice. I fear will be no different to cloud strategy as many businesses will initially take a toe in the water approach with a couple of projects. With little or no thought to a long term strategy. If a business cannot get its BI strategy right, a concept that has been around for over 20 years now then what hope the cloud.
    As you say business should look at the cloud not as just another technology to add to its no doubt long and over bloated list but as a chance to look inward, evaluate what it is IT is doing for the business and embrace the change. This will require a CIO with tremendous will, understanding of cloud, agile IT, political agility and probably compromising photo’s of the CEO and CFO ;-)
    The unfortunate consequence is that the businesses that stand to gain most from implementing a coherent cloud strategy will find it the hardest to implement and I believe that most will initially fail.
    Chris Leigh-Currill

    1. Chris, It’s a great point about the Silo’s. That should be a strong leaders first objective in IT to break those down. Unfortunately, many CIOs fail to make the change they would like because they are assumed to be “short-timers” by the rest of the team. The team leverages the short timer status to delay objectives in the hopes the CIO will be gone before any work actually occurs (Status quo is maintained).

  20. God article which focuses on strategy of cloud. I think the point which really matters is cloud is not about doing same old things faster, as commonly perceived by people, and this article makes a very good point on that!

  21. Brian Reeves Monday, May 7, 2012

    Great article. Thank you. Cloud Sales Person

  22. Robin Hall Monday, May 7, 2012

    Thanks for the fresh perspective on cloud management! I am in the process of writing a series on cloud implementation for businesses and I will definitely be referring back to this!

    1. Robin, thank you very much for the kind words of support

  23. Gerry Grealish Monday, May 7, 2012

    Great article Mark. Reblogged for visitors at PerspecSys and commented:

    While, as you say, it is not a complete checklist, it is a heck of a good starting point.

    Cloud is not simply a set of new “delivery pipes” with some TCO benefits, it is a transformational new approach that empowers business units within the enterprise. But CIO’s and CISO’s are responsible for ensuring compliant, efficient and effective use of it, without hampering the innovation it promises to unleash inside the organization.
    Multi-Cloud, full life cycle capabilities, security support for varied access/use, plus the ability to adapt to the shifting sands of international privacy law/sector compliance requirements…all critically important stuff. I’ve been seeing the last area come up more and more over the past 6 months – IT and Security organizations in Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Australia, Canada and others taking steps to design capabilities into their cloud management platforms to keep sensitive information out of multiple clouds, kept resident within their own firewalls. Just another example of how CIO’s and their teams can meet the needs of the business lines (who are hungry to adopt cloud) without trading off on security/compliance.

    1. Gerry, thanks for the supporting comment. I know many of us understood the issue, but I guess it really did need to be said.

  24. Emanuel Vilte Ferrero Monday, May 7, 2012

    Excelent! Interesting and valuable perspective!

  25. Goli Afshari Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    Great article. I have worked for HyperOffice for many years and I have helped hundreds of clients move their data to the cloud. It doesn’t lock them in, it is secure and roles are defined. It has the most powerful role-based security I’ve seen. It also has a database which is really powerful.
    I agree with you in that users have to change their mind set… you have to let go of the traditional help desk model and work in real time. In HyperOffice, I help companies create their own landing pages and design the UI of what their employees and clients see. I think, flexibility in the cloud tool is key in helping traditional users make the move to the cloud.

  26. Sean Patrick Gallaty Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    It is a delusion to think that any strategic decision is solely one of management. Cloud is a tool, just as thin client, client/server, 3 layer, SAS are all tools. Every year has it’s hallmark groundbreaking new thing. There never has been, and never will be a reason to eliminate the technical decision makers from the process no matter how abstracted the solution.

    1. Sean, I’m not sure you read past the title of my blog. Nowhere in my blog does it say “technical staff shouldn’t be involved”. However, I must disagree with you on Cloud being a tool. It’s only a tool if you’re considering it as piece of a larger objective. Cloud management must have strategic vision applied for you to both benefit from the new opportunities and cloud and protect yourself as well.

  27. Steven Brown Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    When I suggested in several Linked In discussion groups that Cloud Computing was a strategic information technology infrastructure logistical technology which was being driven by the mobile smart device revolution I was ostracized. What’s really funny is I use cloud computing applications on my laptop more than I do on my smart phone. While my wife barely touches her laptop anymore since she got her iPad.

    1. Keep up the good fight. Folks will eventually come around.

      1. Hi Mark,

        Thanks … But it is no longer a fight! CIO’s of major corporations are beginning to recognize that Cloud Computing has become the primary IT Infrastructure Technology evolution for 2012 and throughout this decade. Big Data; and ETL, Data Integration and Aggregation technologies will feed the Business Analytic and Intelligence technologies as their evolution will evolve with Cloud Computing technologies.

  28. Chris Fordham Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    http://rightscale.com/ is a good option (yes I work there too)

  29. Petra Hagemeijer Wednesday, May 9, 2012

    Hi Mark, interessting piece… I was triggered by the headline: Cloud is a corporate strategy, not a tactical solution. Beacause thats what we say about CRM. I’m organising a meeting for a group of 100-150 local medior company owners at sept. 13th about The Cloud. In advance I wright a piece in the local magazine about it and I’d like to use some of your information in there, offcourse mention you as author. I also shared it already on LinkedIn and Twitter. So thanks you gave me a good picture of your ideas about Cloud. Best regards, Petra Hagemeijer, GM/part owner at Zinnovation, Hoorn, The Netherlands.
    PS, your name sounds Dutch…is that correct?

    1. Hello Petra, I’m pleased to read that you’ve found so much value in what I’ve written.

      Yes, my name is Dutch. My fathers family emigrated from the Netherlands in the late 1800’s and settled in California.

      1. Ok, nice…

  30. I am a great resource to transfer your IT platform to the cloud ,making your life easier and more efficient. Send me a message so I can tell you more .

  31. Sorry for being assertive, but do you even know what a corporate strategy means?

    To determine a corporate strategy, you should be looking into the company’s mission, goals and strategies. They can be either growth, stability or renewal.

    Everything you are talking about is related to the functional level – I agree that it supports the overall corporate strategy and should be observed when determining the corporate strategy, but it doesn’t change the fact that this post is all wrong in the conceptual level.

    Please don’t destroy what is already written by serious sources and don’t change the whole definition of corporate strategy based on your perception of what it should be.

    1. No problem with being assertive. As a matter of fact, I am very familiar with translating corporate strategy and vision into IT solutions as I’ve done it for several major enterprises. If you read between the lines a little you see that the CIO is mentioned because they are generally in control of the relationship and understanding of corporate objectives. As that person “in the know” they need to participate so that M&A, growth, bussiness change and other corporate strategies can be understood and the means to support them incorporated in your cloud management platform.

    2. Hmmm … Corporate strategy? How about Business Analytic and Intelligence technologies that will be required by marketing and sales to meet the demands of quickly evolving markets not to mention the need for a business to recognize new business opportunities. The need to support Big Data, Data Integration and Aggregation to facilitate Business Analytic and Intelligence Technologies to meet these challenges.

      Then there is the proliferation of mobile smart devices which will place enormous demands on cloud computing not just for social media but for business organization’s abilities to service their customers.

      You can use cloud computing as a tool or tactical instrument but if you don’t recognize the strategic value you are putting your business at risk.

  32. Typical of tech weenie “self importance” sermons. The “cloud” is, in fact, simply another technology for the techies to worship. The “cloud” is NOTHING NEW. In fact, remote computing was one of the earliest forms of low cost access to technology. Admittedly, due to the lower cost and wider band width of current communications capabilities, the “cloud” is a lower cost alternative to on-site equipment.

    The “cloud” requires computer software to function: either standard offerings, to which the user adapts; or customized software to meet the specific requirements of the users.

    Ain’t nothing new!

    1. Sir, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong on so many levels. I’d be happy to help you understand the opportunity and the reality of moving towards a cloud operating model. Just let me know.

      1. @mark: You should listen to the messages being sent.

        Cloud has some “real” challenges. The hype is misaligned with realized value. As mentioned before the problem with cloud computing is a systemic one.

        Luciano has identified the core issue, cloud does not align with or deliver strategic value.

        Transforming the cloud technology to a strategic solution is not insurmountable and can be fixed with relatively little investment.

        Ping me if you care to discuss

    2. Tech Weenie … “self importance” sermons?

      Are you stuck in ’90’s?

      You remind me of those idiots in NAM after they’d been frag’d and would respond from their morphine stupor … “Ain’t no big thing!” … “Ain’t no big thing!” … “Ain’t no …….

  33. Marc,

    Well thought out article. Setting a direction for your entire platform of business is certainly no simple matter, and from both a business (CIO) perspective and an engineering standpoint there are many things to be addressed.

    Plan…. do …. check…. and Adjust take time, and if you want to really be successful at such a conversion you certainly need to make sure your entire organization no matter how large or small is on-board. Well worth the read…..
    Good On You…..

    1. Thank you very much!

  34. As Companies or Agencies use cloud to plan their IT long term strategy they will see cost savings over time and not use Cloud simply as a point solution today.

    1. I actually don’t see cost savings as being a long term driver for cloud success. Cloud will succeed or fail based on it’s ability to deliver differentiation to the business. IT shouldn’t be a tool used just to lower the cost of IT. Rather it should be used to drive business opportunity. Cost should always be considered, but in the context of value provided.

  35. Good article.

    The difference between choosing XaaS vs. choosing other solutions for IT for a company is that it is a BUSINESS (and legal) decision, not a technical one. Engineers need to be involved for the sole purpose of determining the costs and features that someone from the business side needs to evaluate from a business perspective. There is no new technology in cloud. All cloud services are is a modern virtualized data center offered as OPEX vs. CAPEX, it’s a managed service, no different than managed services have been for decades. It’s just called “cloud” now.

    1. Thank you for the comment. I will differ with you a little though in the sense that there is actually considerable new technology in Cloud, especially when you consider the entire stack of opportunity (Bigdata, SDN, Fluid IT, Rapid Scale, better DR/BC etc.). Regardless of the seemingly similar tech of old, none of the above were afford-ably or easily attainable using legacy solutions. However, the real point of this article is that if you embrace the idea that cloud when implemented properly is a technical extension of your business and it’s objectives, and the IT team is designed to match, then the management platform you use will takes on much greater significance.

      1. I would agree with you on afford-ably if it’s a smaller IT data center that cannot achieve the economies of scale. Which, by the way, is 98.2% of the companies in the US by my own estimation. I came up with that number by US Dept of Commerce 2009 numbers that say that 98.2% of all companies have less than 2,500 employees.

        If you’re talking about true enterprise size companies, cloud computing cannot offer any IT ventures that cannot be deployed internally. But that’s a very small amount of companies who have that ability (1.8% if you go by my choice of 2,500 of more). With a modern virtualized environment, most large enterprise companies can deploy the entire stack of solutions that cloud can offer. Then the question becomes a business decision. Is there savings or feature benefit to deploy a specific or all of the IT solutions to a public cloud? I think there will be some that do make sense and some that don’t.

  36. Cloud Computing: Bck to the future to the good old mainframe. The full-circle to mainframes in their new form took just about 35 years, nearly the same period the mainframes ruled the earth before the advent of MS-DOS.

    Shams Naqvi

  37. Oops I started reading the heading with “Cloud is a corporate strategy, not ONLY a tactical solution” and liked

  38. Chandrashekhar Tanwani Friday, May 11, 2012

    Thanks for the thought provoking article. We shall differentiate among SOA implementation, Transformation Projects at Enterprise level and ‘Cloud Only’ implmentation. The ‘Cloud’ implementation affects the operations of IT department only and can be part of IT initiative only with cost benefits passed to businees. Because the Program involving ‘Cloud’ are also SOA and EA initiatives, the ‘Cloud’ also becomes strategic.

  39. CloudRaider Friday, May 11, 2012

    Fully agree with Mike Speranza: this reads as if technical and engineering issues are used to back up arguments that also need to be discussed at management level.

    In that respect, I found the intro quite interesting as well: “…many of us are looking at the adoption of cloud as just another technology, and are leaving the decisions on how to adopt, own, and manage the cloud up to engineers. But acquiring a cloud management platform is not an engineering decision — it’s a strategic one…”

    Yes, sure, the decision is a strategic one, but how stupid are engineers in your view? After all, it is good engineering practice to think through ramifications of implementations before you change things around, migrate to the cloud, optimise operations etc.

    On the other hand, I have rarely seen a management that fully understands the capabilities and ramification of cloud, let alone the potential future direction that cloud may take going forward for their organisation. From my experience, this is normally discussed at a level of “glossy brochure” information.

    Management would be far better off telling engineers what the company wants to achieve, and let them do their implementation work.

    1. Really, from what I wrote you believe I think “engineers are stupid”. Considering that most of my friends are either sys admins, engineers or used to be, I certainly hope I don’t think they’re stupid. But let’s take your point one step further and maybe you’ll better understand the point I was actually making:
      Situation: Corp Dev decides to buy another company, who should be involved in determining whether the products, revenue, technology and people are a good fit? Are you thinking this is the engineer’s job?
      Situation: ERP solution requirements definition. Who should be involved in the requirements gathering engineers? No, it would be the end user community.
      Situation: You’re investing in a stack of converged infrastructure. Do you believe that the Systems Engineer is stupid because you also need a network engineer involved?

      All I’m trying to say is that you need “all” the right people involved in the requirements definition of a cloud management platform. The reality is very few of us fully understand even what to ask for from a Cloud management platform, so the more folks you get involved the better. A significant portion of the qualities needed from the Management platform will be directly related to requirements associated with things that are generally not in the wheel house of a systems engineer.

      1. Unfortunately most business executives always look at a problem from a financial point of view. They want to know what the Return on Investment is, and what the Total Cost of Ownership will be.

        Most of the time they completely ignore what the risks are. They think that the ROI and TCO will allow them to extrapolate the nature and degree of the risks. However, this is faulty economic reasoning when one considers applying the principles of Dr. W E Deming, Ph.D from Yale University (1928).

        One must consider the risk to the economic survival of the business. The ability to meet new market demands and still provide AAA quality products and services to your customers while not only maintaining and growing market share, but considering entry into new markets for the business’s benefit.

  40. The Innovator Friday, May 11, 2012

    Good article!. All strategic issues needs to be thought through its full life cycle From creation to cremation.

  41. Rick Fonger Friday, May 11, 2012

    Interesting. But when you refer to “the cloud” and the “private cloud” they should be defined. It sounds like you are really just referring to “a network” which is quite different. And the biggest concern about “the cloud” now is a legal one. How many shared web sites and data bases can get knocked offline and compromised when the “shared server” is suddenly removed by police for an investigation?

    1. You bring up a good point about inherent liability and other legal ramifications of shared hosted systems.

      But for the police removing a server ?, we would have seen an outcry from the hosted server world if this was an issue.

      More than likely, it doesn’t happen due to jurisdictional limits. How does the police remove a server out of their jurisdiction ? Lets say, the police in LA want the servers residing in Czechoslovakia and Chechnya ?

      BTW, NIST has definitions for “the cloud, “public cloud” ,private cloud” and community “cloud” which will be used to qualify USG procurement practices.

    2. Hello Rick, I have to differ with you a little. I specifically referred to “cloud” instead of private vs. hybrid vs. public, because I’m suggesting that all of your cloud environments need to be planned and managed effectively, with the strategic planning and objectives of your business put front and center. In fact, a decision to keep something private, vs. public could very well be strategic depending on your business (ala Zynga). Without effective planning and management of your cloud resources, you’re bound to limit the potential of your organization and dramatically reduce the opportunity that the evolution in technology deliver offers.

  42. Larry White Friday, May 11, 2012

    As a retired CIO who has seen the pendulum swing back and forth between centralized and decentralized computing I can tell you that the pendulum will swing back from its current decentralization “The Cloud”. At issue for the CIO is how to leverage the greatest business boost for the fewest bucks. Any CIO who falls for the trap of the latest technology for technologies sake to drive business will not have the job long. The CIO who attempts to change the basic mandate of the business, ROI, will find another home soon. Yes advancements in technology can and frequently do help drive profits, it is because that technology, what ever it is, is focused on the business and the end users of that technology… CIO’s wear many hats and the business hat must always come first. The truly useful and therefore successful CIO avoids the magnetic pull of the empire of technology and put their efforts in the push of profits.

    1. Larry,

      At the risk of repeating myself I re-iterate a previous comment …

      Unfortunately most business executives always look at a problem from a financial point of view. They want to know what the Return on Investment is, and what the Total Cost of Ownership will be.

      Most of the time they completely ignore what the risks are. They think that the ROI and TCO will allow them to extrapolate the nature and degree of the risks. However, this is faulty economic reasoning when one considers applying the principles of Dr. W E Deming, Ph.D from Yale University (1928).

      One must consider the risk to the economic survival of the business. The ability to meet new market demands and still provide AAA quality products and services to your customers while not only maintaining and growing market share, but considering entry into new markets for the business’s benefit.

  43. Very good article but there was one point that wasn’t mentioned that I think is very important. You first need to determine if you even need cloud services, and no, everyone doesn’t need them.

    My company is small and I could see eventually moving email off site currently that’s all I can see. Of course we are a service company as well which is a little different, our product is a web based solution.

    1. Hi Mike, You make a valid point. There is a possibility, albeit a slim one that a company may choose not to use cloud. My assumption with the article wasn’t that you “should” or “shouldn’t” use cloud, but rather if you are, that you should manage them (clouds) effectively.

      1. Good point. In our case in a sense at least we are providing cloud services to our customers. We do plan on using some cloud services ourselves eventually, at least if you stretch it to mean externally hosted servers.

  44. Nice article

  45. Jason Statham Saturday, May 12, 2012

    Is anyone else annoyed that we continue to speak about this new “phenomenon” but really all we have done is put a new label on something that has been around for a very long time? If calling shared internal infrastructure “cloud” allows CIOs to think in a different manner with regard to their enterprises or sell their ideas easier to their boards, fantastic, but let’s stop pretending that this is anything new. Intranets, shared web portals, virtual machine farms/ pools, web accessible shared file storage…none of this is new and calling it cloud doesn’t make it any more special, new or unique. “Cloud” = technology marketing 2.0.

    1. This is a complex issue with no easy answer… From the narrows of technology, cloud computing as an approach to technology is older the the hills. There is no disputing that.

      The question still remains is cloud computing a new product? It depends how you define a product. Adding new skins and a different skew, that makes something it a new product in retail. The fact is, the arrogance of the techo-IT consumer is attempting to dictate what a supplier wants to call, package and price their products.

      Instead of focusing on what the stuff is called why not focus on the value, or lack of, the products provide ?

      If I was still sitting in a business park, I’d be looking at my neighbors wondering why the farmers down the road have coop to leverage, and we don’t…

  46. humm… biased statements cannot lay a solid and/or healthy foundation.

  47. blogaboutatoz Monday, May 14, 2012

    Great info in one article, since now a days we are moving towards mobile , so cloud is a definite way to go..

  48. Sylvia Ernst Monday, May 14, 2012

    Excellent article and right on. I see that often (my industry is “drug discovery”, which is Pharma, Biotech etc.) and funny – larger corporations often have that issue. Your article inspired me to blog about this and reference your article here. https://www.collaborativedrug.com/buzz/2012/05/15/too-big-to%E2%80%A6-%E2%80%9Dgo-cloud%E2%80%9D/

    1. Sylvia, thanks for the nice comment. I just read your blog and of course agree. I like the extra points made.


  49. A very good article for cloud.
    A cloud solution should consider as a operation platform for grouping business. So it must support the business model which your company are going with. And the cloud platform must be very flexible to change to adapt the the business model change.

    1. Rachel, thank you for the comment. As you can imagine, I couldn’t agree with you more.

  50. The “cloud” put me out of work after being with a company for over 5 years. Thanks.

    1. Steven Brown Mike Friday, May 25, 2012

      Hi Mike,

      Sincerely sorry to hear that you lost your position with the company you worked for.

      If I may ask? What position you had with the company and how cloud computing affected your company to cause your unemployment?

      Others may benefit from your experience and be pro-active to guard against suffering the same loss you have.

  51. Before i read your perspective on clouds, i was under the impression that they only make work faster, with reduction in onsite IT staff requirement and less financial investment burden. Thanks for the enlightenment!

  52. Charles Bonfante Thursday, June 7, 2012

    Good article. Covered a lot of bases. Strategic alignment is so important from a business perspective.

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