In discussions on cloud computing, I often talk to architects who have been told to create a "cloud strategy." This sounds appropriate enough, but there’s a devil in the details: When the task is "create a Technology X strategy," people often center strategy on the technology. With cloud, they aim to get a good definition of pure cloud and then find places where it makes sense to use it. The result is a technology strategy silo where cloud is placed at the center and usage scenarios are arranged around it. The problem with this is three-fold:
- Considering the full business dynamics of any given usage scenario, there is a wide continuum of often strongly competing alternatives to pure cloud (including cloud-like and traditional options).
- The rapid pace of market development means that business value equations along this continuum of options will keep changing.
- Your business needs integrated strategy for many technologies, not simply a siloed cloud strategy.
The point of a strategy is to enable good decisions over the long term. With cloud, one’s evolving decision framework should put the business decisions to be made at the center, arranging options — pure cloud, cloud-like, virtualized, traditional — around the business decision. This is what a good architecture strategy does, and the best way to develop a strong approach to cloud is to integrate cloud as an option into broader strategies. Consider infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) as an option within your overall infrastructure strategy. Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) might factor into your application platform and development strategy. Your business solution road map might have a place for software-as-a-service (SaaS). Building cloud into these other strategies: 1) establishes a good foundation for making strong business decisions; 2) offers protection against getting caught up in cloud hype; and 3) provides a stronger basis for evolving toward pure cloud through stages like server virtualization, internal cloud, and hosted cloud.
What are you doing to protect your organization from cloud hype?