Many business and IT leaders get consumed in many questions: Should we go with private cloud? Public cloud? Hybrid model? What about our legacy systems? Where do we find the skills to make cloud happen?
But there is another, even more important question that needs to be pondered before asking these questions, however. What are we actually trying to accomplish? In the headlong rush to cloud, not enough people are asking this question.
That’s the view of Dan Kusnetzky, founder of Kusnetzky Group and former IDC analyst, in a recent webcast at VIRTu Alley (sponsored by Dell). Too many organizations are jumping into cloud for cloud’s sake, and not thoroughly evaluating where the business value may be, he cautions.
In some ways, there really isn’t anything that new about cloud, he says. Rather, it’s “an outgrowth of several longstanding trends and, only a small amount of new technology in a slightly new way.” If anything, cloud is actually a new phase of IT outsourcing, Dan says, adding that “cloud computing is nothing more than the next step in outsourcing your IT operations,” the culmination of years of attempts to offload technology management to specialized third parties. All forms of outsourcing — including cloud — are intended to run IT in someone else’s data center.
But once the business begins to recognize the advantages cloud provides, it opens up new possibilities that may have not even considered before. And these potential advantages extend well beyond simple cost reduction, Dan continues. For example, organizations with limited over over-stretched technology resources find the cloud option appealing.
There’s another dimension to business that cloud makes possible beyond the data center door — and that is agility. Organizations “may need extensive increase of computing resources only certain times,” Dan points out — such as a retail operation that only needs high levels of computing capacity in the months running up to the holidays. Or, he adds, “a research institution may need enormous amounts of resources to test out an idea, where they’re planning, they’re thinking, they need to test out some new model that requires quite a bit of computational resources.”
For some organizations, such as financial services, cost may not be the issue at all. Rather, it’s time to market that is key, and here’s where cloud can shine. “In financial services, sometimes a new service might produce millions or perhaps billions of dollars of revenue,” Dan points out. “The fact that they pay a few hundred dollars for one resource or another isn’t as important to them as how quickly and reliably they can develop that workload bring it online and sell that product.”
There are three key considerations in launching a cloud effort:
Ask: is this trip really necessary? “It’s good to start with asking the business, ‘what are you trying to accomplish?’ before we try and select which tool will help that process along, Dan advises. “Do they really to move what they’re doing somewhere else? Or is what they’re doing good enough? Information technology often centers on what is ‘good enough.’ By trying to reach for excellence, what you’re doing may no longer be needed. Good enough is often good enough.”
Know where you’re going. “Or you’re likely to end up somewhere else,” Dan points out. “If you just start with a tool or start with a service and build and build and build, without knowing what you’re architectural requirements really are, you might end up with a total mess on your hands that is very hard to manage, and may actually be more costly.”
Always be thinking about security, reliability and manageability when you are making your plans. “Don’t expect you can just add this on afterwards as a product purchase, it really has to be baked in, or its not going to work very well.”