As cloud computing adoption increases, many enterprises are not developing a full vision for their cloud computing efforts. Most of the projects being deployed in the cloud are more for testing and proof of concept than actual production, but there are projects that show such success in the cloud that they are left there permanently. I am not one to discourage enterprises from ‘testing the waters’ of the cloud in whatever fashion they deem proper, but I do highly recommend that an overall ‘cloud computing vision’ be developed when the cloud is to be officially adopted as a production resource.
As noted in a recent InfoWorld blog on the topic, this type of unstructured or experimental method of cloud adoption will probably continue for the near future. This scenario mainly applies to the public cloud, but it will soon migrate over to the private and hybrid cloud infrastructures. In limited quantities, this is a manageable scenario. When the speed and frequency of cloud migration projects begin to rise, this creates a familiar and unpleasant situation.
When server virtualization first began to take hold in the data centers of the world, the technology promised so much that IT completely ignored a key facet of any large scale deployment – management. It was so easy to build and deploy virtual machines that most organizations failed to put constraints and processes for virtual server deployments. This created the issue that many organizations are now facing – VM sprawl. Many vendors have risen to combat the growing problem of server sprawl, but this illustrates what is set to happen in the cloud computing world.
As these small projects take to the cloud, most organizations are not putting the processes in place to contain and manage the deployments. Organizations are more concerned with security and compliance than they are of management. Over time, these deployments will grow in number and end up a tangled mess of systems that do not work with each other well. They will be a nightmare to manage and the business value that was supposed to result from the shift to cloud computing will not pan out. Fortunately, this can all be avoided if enterprises take the time to develop a concise yet thorough plan for cloud computing adoption. This strategy must be communicated to everyone involved from the top business people to the IT staff.
A cloud computing vision defines the business goals of the company and illustrates how cloud computing will serve to deliver on those goals. The vision must have a long term plan in which the path to full cloud adoption is laid out and logical steps are identified in the process. The vision should highlight issues such as security, compliance, governance, provisioning, change management and departure from the cloud (should this be necessary). The vision should give the ‘big picture’ of how an organization will approach cloud computing. From the vision, the various project managers and technical staff can develop the smaller solutions that will work toward that common idea.
The cloud computing vision will help to deliver on the promise of business value by ensuring that projects are cohesive in addition to being less complex and less expensive. The vision will also expedite the process of moving from a CAPEX heavy business model to a lean OPEX-centric model. The vision will lower the risks to cloud computing adoption by offering a well defined plan and identifying potential challenges ahead of time. Having a cloud computing vision will increase the chance that an organization’s cloud computing efforts are successful.