Cloud Plans: Open Letter To Enterprise Application Vendors

One of the biggest obstacles to cloud adoption is the state of application architecture. As buyers, we must get our app vendors on board--now.
Cloud is inevitable, whether you're talking about public, private, or hybrid architectures. So how come most enterprise applications are still not architected for the cloud?

Let's change that posture. Those of us with buyer power must step up and make our strategies known to our enterprise application vendors.

I suggest that you riff on the following letter with your enterprise application vendors. But don't finish the conversation there. Keep reminding them; repetition is the soul of change. If we're going to get to the promise of more automation, less spending on manual/dumb activities, and bursting instead of buying for peak capacity, we've got to repeat the message.

Dear Enterprise Application Vendor:

I'm sure you've been following the hype about cloud computing, but let me assure you that it's more than just hype. As the CIO for my organization, I think that cloud architecture is the future for both our internal infrastructure and our external, hosted infrastructure. Smaller organizations than ours, with their "greenfield" advantage, already have taken advantage of cloud architecture. Now it's our turn to realize its ROI. []

It may be a matter of debate to what extent an organization will have internal or external infrastructure. What's not in question is the fact that cloud architecture offers significant benefits to my organization: dynamic infrastructure, automation, orchestration, and a reduction in time people have to spend on manual configuration. A wide variety of respected experts have argued that cloud computing is inevitable (, and that it even calls for the rebuilding of enterprise IT (

Regardless, I'm writing to let you know that cloud architecture is an important and serious part of my organization's IT strategy going forward.

It's still not clear to me what extent your company is working on supporting cloud architecture in future releases of your software, but suffice it to say early preparation is essential. Please note that merely offering software as a service, which you may be contemplating, isn't the same thing as preparing your software for an internal or external cloud architecture.

Our success is bound together, and because of my desire to see your product line succeed long term, I would like to offer our site as an "anchor customer" for testing and eventual implementation of your product's evolution to cloud-based architecture. Obviously, we would have to establish rules of engagement, testing methodologies, and so on, but we're enthusiastic about partnering with you to move your critical software from its current architecture to a cloud-aware one. We both have an interest in moving to this point as quickly as is practical while still maintaining a high level of availability and reliability.

We're once again at a crossroads that's no less significant than the one we faced when all of our applications ran on mainframes. The question is, can we rise to the occasion and migrate in a planned way, or will we be forced to migrate to different platforms in a more jarring manner? Please let me know when we can have a further conversation about making this happen.

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You'll need to tweak this letter, but you get the idea. Your vendor is probably thinking about providing its software as a service--most of the time "cloud washing" a hosted offering--but that doesn't cut it for every enterprise application. These vendors aren't going to make the investment in re-architecting their apps until they understand that their customers need it, insist on it, and might even help out. That's where we come in. Let's make it happen sooner rather than later.

Jonathan Feldman is a contributing editor for InformationWeek and director of IT services for a rapidly growing city in North Carolina. Write to him at [email protected] or at @_jfeldman.

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