Recently an individual brought to my attention that I had created a perception that some people thought I was “anti-cloud” and that I believe the cloud is “bad” or “evil.” I am not exactly sure how that perception got created or how that conclusion was reached. But whether or not that perception is accurate, he does raise two valid points. What is my opinion of “the cloud” and how do I think organizations should proceed with it?
To a certain degree I can see how people, based upon some of my prior blog entries, might conclude that I am “anti-cloud.” For instance, back in late April I wrote a blog entry entitled “Cloud! Cloud! Cloud! A Not so Authoritative Look at What Cloud Terms Mean.” In it I took a tongue-in-cheek look at how vague various cloud terms are and how they are frequently being bent to serve almost any purpose.
I similarly wrote a blog entry a few weeks ago asking the question, “Who owns the cloud?” In that blog entry I examined a situation where a VAR was telling me about a company that was building out a private cloud. However this cloud is apparently being built without any rhyme or reason as the right hand in the company buying the storage does not know what the left hand is doing. This lack of strategic direction and corporate guidance as to what that company’s cloud should eventually look like is resulting in a tremendous amount of overbuying and waste.
So if someone read only those two blog entries, I could see how one might conclude that I am anti-cloud.
In short, that is not correct. However I will certainly position myself as someone who sees himself as “Cautious Cloud,” at least when it comes to businesses running any of their applications or putting any of their data in the cloud.
For instance, businesses should ideally verify:
- How financially stable their cloud provider is
- What their physical infrastructure looks like
- How their data center is architected
- How prepared they are to recover from an outage or a disaster
- How well trained their people are
- The processes and procedures that they internally follow to manage the cloud
What I have found is that many if not most cloud providers have facilities, processes and procedures that exceed the capabilities and expertise of what many businesses have in place. In these circumstances, businesses may be pleasantly surprised to find that by moving some or all of their applications and infrastructure to the cloud may be the best decision they ever made. They could conceivably lower IT costs, improve application up time, discover new options for disaster recovery and ultimately make IT an enabler of business initiatives.
So when a cloud provider offers all of those services, I am a 100% believer in the cloud and I say, “Go for it!”
But there are just as many or more circumstances where an organization still has not internally defined what the cloud means to it, who is internally going to own the cloud or set its strategic direction. In those situations, I would encourage companies to proceed very slowly with any cloud initiative until they resolve these questions of authority and direction.
Notice I did not say they should not proceed at all. Sometimes the only way to learn what you want or need in order to move forward is to experiment and try something new. But it appears some organizations are jumping feet first into private or public clouds without any clear expectations as to how it will ultimately improve their situation.
So for those of you out there who thought or perceived that I was anti-cloud, that was not the message I intended to convey or impression I wished to leave you with. But as I voice my support for the cloud, I DO want to leave people with the impression that the cloud should be implemented carefully and cautiously.
Because simply implementing a cloud (public, private or hybrid) or hosting applications in it does not necessarily make all problems go away. Absent any clear direction or strategic objectives, it may only make them worse.