Keep Your Eye on the Prize - InformationWeek

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Commentary
2/25/2009
01:04 PM
David Linthicum
David Linthicum
Commentary
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Keep Your Eye on the Prize

My greatest fear as we run, not walk, in the direction of the clouds is that we won't consider how cloud computing folds into our IT strategy, but more how our IT strategy needs to fold into cloud computing. That's dangerous thinking, considering how many times we've done that over the years with less than positive results...

InformationWeek's Charles Babcock writes about the upsides in cloud computing that many of the analyst firms see coming in this article.

Late last year, the market research group IDC surveyed IT professionals and concluded that 4% of enterprises already have implemented some form of cloud computing, although it's often in the form of software as a service (SaaS), such as Salesforce.com's (NYSE: CRM) CRM application.

That number will more than double by 2012, to 9% of enterprises, said Frank Gens, senior VP of IDC, as he opened the Cloud Computing Forum in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Indeed, cloud computing represents 25% of the net new growth in IT spending, versus spending for on-premises IT, the article goes on to say. Just SaaS by itself is projected to nearly double from $9 billion to $17 billion.I'm pretty sure the other firms are stating the same types of things these days. Indeed, while many of the larger analyst organizations are pushing back on cloud computing, sighting immaturity, they all agree that it's growing now, and will continue to do so. However, when you ask the same people to define the core value that all of this outside-the-firewall computing will bring, you'll hear "cost reduction" over and over, but little explanation beyond that.

The fact of the matter is that the value of cloud computing goes well beyond cost reduction, and yet, in many cases, it won't even reduce operational costs. Thus, you need to consider cloud computing in the context of your IT and business objectives in order to find its real place and its real value.

Cloud computing at its essence is really about leveraging all sorts of computing resources, on-demand, stuff that you don't have to build or buy. It's just another solution, at the end of the day. However, many of those moving into cloud computing today are just following the herd and/or thinking about how good cloud computing will look on their résumé rather than considering its true impact within enterprise architecture.

My greatest fear as we run, not walk, in the direction of the clouds is that we won't consider how cloud computing folds into our IT strategy, but more how our IT strategy needs to fold into cloud computing. That's dangerous thinking, considering how many times we've done that over the years with less than positive results. Sometimes I think we have long-term memory problems in IT when it comes to this stuff.

So, if you're considering cloud computing as an option, you need to do the upfront work first, including understanding the business objectives, and then understanding our own assets, including data, services, and processes, before you leverage clouds. Cloud computing resources are merely another type of enabling technology, and when you get down to the nitty-gritty, not much has changed.My greatest fear as we run, not walk, in the direction of the clouds is that we won't consider how cloud computing folds into our IT strategy, but more how our IT strategy needs to fold into cloud computing. That's dangerous thinking, considering how many times we've done that over the years with less than positive results...

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