ImageMuch is made about the Cloud and how it can alleviate the burdens and challenges that companies face.  Capacity planning, elastic flexible sizing, data repository custodianship, resource management and security are but a few of the services lifted off the backs of conventional corporate IT departments.

Where I am a bit up in the air and quite surprised that its not more obvious (from a scan of the top 10 cloud providers) is the lack of  mention relative to application hosting.  While mention is given to services that are provided, like IT development and operational elements little if any visibility is given to hosted application services.  Maybe this is an assumed or is it a matter that the issues surrounding operational support is a bit too challenging, even if the customer performs remote computing control?  Making some inquiries, and again this is to front line sales people they all responded that they could (not to my surprise) but few details emerged that one could review or to take those first steps to act upon.   So… is the cloud simply a mist for data support and the occasional server supported application, using some sort of proprietary tool as is the case with Google OR is it really a full blown cloud capable of doing everything that you would expect your IT shop to do?   Maybe some of you have some examples of cloud hosted,

  • ERP,
  • Internally developed applications, and
  • Other forms of application service support not covered through the use of cloud proprietary technologies.

Pretty ‘Good’ Job

ImageIt is pretty fair to say that clients and providers are doing a respectable job at making sure that all of the nuts and bolts of the operation in place.  Security, contingency planning, backup, capacity management and technical services are sound and consistent across the board.  There will always be needs for improvement and its a normal expectation that with any significant infrastructure investment that this will occur without exception.  When looking at cloud providers that are foreign based one must confirm that the same level of qualification is being exercised.  This is not a matter of distrust but rather a matter of local viewpoint and possibly even access to critical key elements (readily available in N.America and Europe but not so elsewhere).  Even when the cloud is used for local support in a foreign nation there are level-set expectations that must be fulfilled and are considered mandatory.

Johnny Come Lately

ImageLarge scale companies have made an entry into the cloud service space.  The name carries with it a certain level of expectation but is it fair to assume that a large prominent player has the requisite abilities to be cloud proficient?  One must always evaluate, without exception.  Unchecked assumptions cannot provide you with certainty… so do your homework and make sure that the provider not only has the right climate but also the ability to carryout the services that are needed in both the near and long term.

Don’t Run

ImageThere is definitive separation between running and walking.  Transitioning the domiciled environment to the cloud is best called a speed walking exercise.  Its not too slow and certainly not too fast but its at a pace brisk enough that a rapid speed of transition can be carried out with appropriate care.  Clearly defined benchmarks, schedule, check points and confirmation v&v (verification and validation) permit speed walking to occur.  Unfortunately the tendency to run can best be called ‘baptism by fire’.and is sometimes considered possible because the controls (as noted previously will overcome all obstacles…. they won’t!) will compensate.   Speed walking transition permits initial experimentation and interactive adaption toward final rollout.  Even cautionary efforts where you roll just a single service to the cloud may be a bit too slow.  Its best to also have a hearty bite of transition in order to make it economical.  Doing 4 transitions of 4 single application services is more expensive than doing 1 or 2 transitions because of time and duplicated resource commitment.  So venture forth in a vigilant precautionary fashion!

In the Beginning

ImageAs I mentioned the lack of visible application service support, in a definitive fashion, has left me lukewarm.  While I know its technically possible its more a question of interest and offering on the part of the cloud service providers.  Its important that this be addressed definitively and without waffling on this matter.  Clients will review and determine the legitimacy of this service but also are quite open and willing to entertain.

Clearly the client’s IT leadership is not looking for simply service hosting, they are looking for provisioning (the ability to accommodate and address a total set of needs, not just partial hosting).  To that end one must question and probe at each and every corner of the cloud community services.  These are long term commitments and not short term ventures.  At first… maybe, as a means of cautious exploration, but if the results are a ‘green’ light then one can expect enduring commitment (or until pain becomes so severe that it no longer is tolerable).