How not to Fail at Implementing Cloud Computing

Photo: www.flickr.com/photos/kwpashuk

Today’s IT environment is about anytime/anywhere access to practically anything on any device.  You can work from anywhere, and blend your professional, personal and private information into one seamless interface.  And the magic sauce that connects you and brings it all together is…. you know it… the ‘Cloud’.

At least that’s what the media and the vendor community would have us believe.

But we are IT people. We know better.  We know that you just can’t connect all the information together in a mishmash muddle and expect it to work.  Add onto that authentication, controlling access to sensitive or confidential data, compliance and privacy issues, never mind the terabytes of legacy systems that just do not talk to any other system and you know that the dream world described above is just that, a dream world.

We have launched ourselves on a crusade to educate the masses, to bring them to a realization of truth and restore control in our world.

The problem is that the people we support believe it’s real… and possible… and it’s your job be make it so.

Some of the people that believe it are also the ones who sign our paycheques.

So where does that leave you?

Do you jump on the Cloud Computing bandwagon as we are being encouraged to do by the media and vendors?

If you create a project titled “Cloud Computing” I can assure you that you will spend vast sums of money without necessarily achieving any measurable positive impact on your organization’s bottom line.

Why do I say this?

In my years in this world of IT leadership, I saw many projects to implement ‘solutions’ such as ITIL, Rational Rose, Offshore Development, Outsourcing, and a litany of others that contributed to the very dismal statistic of failed IT projects.  Cloud computing can be right up there on that list if not implemented properly.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to change.

Your job is to provide an IT environment that supports your organization.  Not just support it, but deliver value by enhancing / streamlining existing processes and even creating growth by allowing your organization to differentiate itself from its competitors.

You can’t get those results if you keep on doing things the same way.

As an IT leader, it is critical that you sit down with your leadership team and reimagine what an IT organization would look like if it had to securely deliver anytime/anywhere/any device access to corporate resources.

It’s not wrong that your users want this. It’s what they need.

You will have to list all the key non-negotiables – security, compliance, data availability, etc. but at the same time figure out how make it all transparent to the users of the system.

What are the barriers and the constraints to achieving this goal?

Where will you get resistance?

What would be different?

What skills do you need on your team?

What tools and resources are available?  (Cloud computing platforms (IaaS, SaaS, etc.) are part of this).

What are the real capabilities of vendor solutions and services?

What can you offload so that your team can focus on delivering in this new environment?  Before you say ‘nothing’ remember that at one time many manufacturers generated their own electricity to have a clean reliable source of power.  Nowadays, with the exception of emergency power in critical situations (hospitals, data centres, etc.) electricity is a commodity.  The majority of us would never consider generating our own.  The electricity company does a reasonably good job at providing power.

Think ahead five years.  Perhaps (and this is my opinion) major systems like ERP, HRIS, etc. will become commoditized. We all need a robust reliable financial system, but there’s no differentiator in us maintaining it ourselves.  If there were companies that could provide a stable, secure platform to access our institutional data, would we not be able to leverage it in delivering the flexible environment I described above?

Many of us have already leveraged these platforms in applications such as Salesforce.com.

I’m suggesting that if you have gone through the exercise of reimagining or reframing your IT department, then cloud computing will likely be one of the tools in your arsenal.

If you make cloud computing the goal, you will fail.


  1. I do agree with you, Kevin. It's really important to consider your company's structure before jumping into Cloud computing. Most companies just immediately prance on the chance to use Cloud without considering how it would affect their company's work flow. Your post is a very interesting read and it really got me thinking about the odds and ends of Cloud computing. Thanks for sharing! Till next time! :D

    Erick Brooks @ Ripple Web

    1. Erick,
      Thanks for commenting. I may 'borrow' your phrase "prance on the chance" in the future.