Are Consultants Killing Cloud Computing? - InformationWeek

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Commentary
8/20/2009
04:42 PM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
Commentary
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Are Consultants Killing Cloud Computing?

It's clear that hype-driven cloud computing translates into dollars given to consultants who promise to lead enterprises to the Promised Land of 'As-a-service.' The coordinates being set by some consultants could lead enterprises to the wrong clouds with the wrong applications, and cost enterprises millions more than expected...

It's clear that hype-driven cloud computing translates into dollars given to consultants who promise to lead enterprises to the Promised Land of "as-a-service." The coordinates being set by some consultants could lead enterprises to the wrong clouds with the wrong applications, and cost enterprises millions more than expected with no savings and increased risk.

So, what are they doing wrong? The key issues include:

  • Following the hype.
  • Picking the wrong battles.
  • Not considering the business.
  • Being a bit too chummy with providers.
Many consultants spend too much time following the hype that's at a fever pitch around cloud computing these days. Armed with blog printouts and analyst reports, they blow by the business requirements and architectural needs of the business to address the fact that we're now in a "revolution" and "big change" is needed. The smarter CIOs toss these guys out of their offices, but a few get through. Cloud computing is, at its essence, an architectural change, and thus should be carefully considered far away from the cloud computing noise that the marketers generate.

The larger issue is that consultants are picking the wrong battles, or selecting the wrong applications and or data to reside on cloud computing platforms. Not all applications are right for the cloud, and the ability to understand which applications will work and which will not is a large part of understanding how to leverage cloud computing. Things that should be considered are performance, security, compliance, and the ability to federate applications that are now centralized.

Not considering the business is another huge cloud computing consulting mistake. Cloud computing, at the end of the day, is a shift in technology that should have some core business benefit. Business cases are typically ignored because they consider the hype as justification for the movement to the cloud. If you can't make or save money using cloud computing, you should not do it.

Finally, being a bit too chummy with providers is becoming an issue. I said it about software, and I'll say it again about cloud computing technology: A consultant needs to be independent and keep an open mind. A consultant who drops the "Amazon" or "Salesforce.com" names a dozen times in the initial meeting, mostly because they're in partner programs, typically means they are not thinking through the problem. They have a hammer, and you look like a nail no matter what. Take a close look at those consultants who announce key partnerships and other links to providers that could mean they intend to look out for everyone's interest but your own. The end result is the wrong cloud computing provider who addresses the wrong set of problems, and thus you move the proverbial "one step forward and two steps back."

All of this does not mean there are not good cloud computing consultants out there, only that there are enough bad ones that you need to be very careful when you decide to hire one.It's clear that hype-driven cloud computing translates into dollars given to consultants who promise to lead enterprises to the Promised Land of 'As-a-service.' The coordinates being set by some consultants could lead enterprises to the wrong clouds with the wrong applications, and cost enterprises millions more than expected...

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