Author: Kushal Patel, Senior Consultant
Cloud computing will have a significant impact on IT functions within the industry over the next several years. The challenge is having a strategy to steer clear of the pitfalls and leverage the opportunities that make sense for your business.
How do you, as the IT manager, sort through all the “cloud computing” clamor?
While cloud computing is still in its early stages, I have sifted through a lot of superfluous information that’s out there and can provide some basic, yet solid, advice.
Let’s start with understanding what cloud computing really is, and how you can begin building a framework for a cloud strategy.
There’s still a lot of confusion as to what cloud computing is – but maybe there shouldn’t be. For a midmarket company, cloud computing can simply be defined as a way to outsource some IT “headaches” to a third party (or even business unit) on a pay-as-you-use service model so you can focus on improving your core competencies. You can compare this to the power industry; before the power grid existed everyone generated and delivered their own power. Today we don’t need an investment in power-generating equipment – we simply pay for what we use and let the power companies deal with the “headache” of power generation.
How to begin establishing a strategy:
The basic questions to ask when setting a cloud strategy center around what core strengths you want to focus on. Which capabilities are you lacking and what headaches do you want to abandon? Don’t get too wrapped up in the specifics of Public Clouds, Private Clouds, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, Elastic Computing, Chargeback, etc, etc, etc. Strategy is a projection into the future, so think about what technologies you want your organization to have a strong competence in, and what technologies are better suited for somebody else to deal with. Those functions that aren't core to your operation are good candidates for the cloud. For instance, data warehousing may be best if kept internal, whereas collaboration tools may be a good candidate for the cloud.
Security, security, security:
Everybody's paranoid about cloud security, and for good reason. Anytime you trust a third party, you need to consider the risks. Compliance concerns will always be tricky, and you should always check with your internal compliance watchdogs before deciding to leverage the cloud. But don't arbitrarily assume that your capacity for compliance is better than that of a third party. Just because you feel safer driving your own car doesn’t change the fact that you are safer when a professional is in control (pilot, taxi, captain, etc.).
So in summary, don’t let the term “cloud computing” cause discomfort. Begin with the basic idea of removing your headaches and focusing on critical applications. Be cautious but open to 3rd party security control and be open to the inevitable journey to the cloud.