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What's Your Cloud Strategy?

A little over three years ago, I made an insane prediction. I said that enterprise IT will be out of the business of owning and operating physical infrastructure and out of the data center business in five to ten years. I was ridiculed for being unrealistic and not in tune with the market. I made these predictions when cloud was just a buzz word with no real definition or application.

Fast forward to today and you find that anywhere from 15 to 25 percent of workloads are in the cloud already, whether that is e-mail, unified communications, CRM, ERP. The list of workloads that are already there is long and distinguished. It took three years to get this far, and I think in the next two years we'll see much faster adoption with rapid cloud deployments, especially as we start to address business topics that were a hassle in the past, such as disaster recovery.

Most organization saw DR as a necessary evil but also a waste of money (so to speak). Cloud simplifies DR and makes it affordable enough to where it now makes perfect business sense. While DRaaS is traditionally built around VM technology which means everything should be virtualized, traditional players are starting to realize the benefits of the "as a service" model and applying it to some physical components of the datacenter that have not or cannot be virtualized in order to facilitate these implementations.

DR isn't just the only example. We are starting to see many organizations migrate test and dev workloads to the cloud as well. Desktop as a Service is starting to become interesting, albeit in my opinion it's not valid -- yet. But it's definitely part of a larger enterprise-wide cloud strategy.

So if you have not developed a cloud strategy, what are you waiting for? You are going to come under increased pressure from IT leadership and they will come under increased pressure from the business leaders and procurement specialists to look at alternatives before making new purchases, especially those with larger dollar signs. I would not be surprised to see a procurement specialist asking IT if they have looked at cloud storage as an alternative. And it will probably happen right before you ask for that next expensive SAN upgrade or expansion. And I would not be surprised to see them asking questions about archiving and backup, expanded storage, additional compute, and so on.

CxOs are also being exposed to the cloud at conferences. These conferences are not always IT related, so you se, the scope of cloud is not contained in a world that we can control anymore. As a result, do your homework so you're ready to address and answer cloud questions intelligently.

If you have not done so yet, a comprehensive comparison of what it costs to host your virtual infrastructure with its dependencies in-house versus an IaaS is a crucial first step. I advise that you don't play around with the numbers -- it can win you time but no points in the organization. If it is cheaper in the cloud, suggest it and move on it.

Evaluate DaaS, look at the cost of hosting desktop virtualization internally with all its dependencies versus in the cloud, but make sure you take the technical requirements into account. Separating data from the desktops kind of negates the idea of DaaS, but if you are embracing IaaS and all your data is in the cloud, then maybe DaaS makes more sense. If not today, whywhy? And when do you think it would make sense? Those are questions you should be asking, and coming up with honest answers.

You should also factor in what it is going to cost to deploy desktop virtualization in the mean time. Does it make sense given when you believe DaaS will be viable to you? Will the organization have depreciated the cost of desktop virtualization by then? Apply the same logic to backup, archiving, e-mail, and so on, and as these conversations come up in your organization, you will look really polished having put in the due diligence. What you'll be doing is forcing a new level of respect to all levels of the organization. Your bosses will appreciate that you took initiative, procurement will look at you differently and your future requests will go through a little easier. This is true regardless of the size of the organization.

Final thoughts: As you progress through your cloud strategy, start thinking about how the role of IT is going to change from an owner and operator to an aggregator and governor of these cloud services Again, I already see this happening, but at different levels and speeds. Start to think along these lines and it will change your priorities and allow you to start looking at different products and solutions that enable this larger vision.

Have you developed a cloud strategy yet? If yes, I am interested to learn what you are doing. If you haven't, I'm interested to know what is stopping you.

Posted on 11/13/2013 at 4:16 PM


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