Forget The Hype, How The Cloud Is Going To Impact You

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Get over the buzz words, what does this cloud thing mean for you?
Get over the buzz words, what does this cloud thing mean for you?

Can we all agree that the era of cloud computing is almost upon us? That’s all great and such, but what is this going to mean for IT leaders? In the worst case your senior management is going to be flying somewhere and they’re going to read one of those trade magazines, discover that there’s something called “the cloud” and come back and tell you to do something about it. What then?

Start By Building Yourself A Private Cloud

When you’ve been asked to work on your company’s “cloud” program, there are a few things that you probably need to keep in mind. The first of these is that this cloud stuff is so new that most people on the team probably don’t fully understand what it really is. Looks like it’s time for you to step up and show some leadership here.

The first thing that you need to realize is that your company’s current IT infrastructure is probably a mess. Your IT infrastructure is probably a collection of various technologies that have come and gone over the years. This included everything from mainframes to client server systems. This is presenting your company with two problems: they are expensive to maintain and each system can only be used by a small set of applications that have been designed for it.

Is the cloud yet another IT fad? There’s always that risk, but right now it’s not looking that way. What the cloud appears to be offering to IT managers is (finally!) the arrival of a general purpose computing. What this means for you is that all of sudden the company’s IT infrastructure has the ability to become “workload agnostic”.

If every computer that the IT department has looks like every other computer, then all of a sudden you can move applications around as needed and the machines that you do have will start to get used as efficiently as possible.

So what should you tell your company to do in order to get the benefits of this cloud thing? What you need to do as a first step is to get busy creating a virtualized computing environment that’s not going to look anything like what came before it in today’s IT sector. In other words, you need to build a private cloud for your company.

This may require your company to go out and build a completely new data center to house new standardized hardware. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your existing data center. Instead, you can retrofit an existing data center and transform it into another standardized data center. What will make this story so compelling is that this can all done with a very nice return-on-investment (ROI).

Turns Out That It’s All About The Applications

Having standardized hardware is a great start when you are transforming your company’s IT infrastructure into a private cloud. However, it’s not enough. The benefit of any cloud, public or private, is that you can run your company’s applications on any box anywhere. In order to do this, there is some more work that is going to be required.

The applications that your company are running today are going to have to be rewritten. The way that you probably have things now is that you’ve got applications that are written in multiple languages, run on multiple types of processors, and use different types of databases. That’s going to be way too expensive to keep supporting as you move forward.

The goal of this kind of application re-write is make your applications portable. Once you use a services-based approach and use a common data source along with a common messaging infrastructure then you can run them anywhere.

An IT manager needs to look at cloud projects as giving them the opportunity to transform their IT operations from the chaos that it is today into a uniform private cloud as being a once-in-a-career event. You’ll have a chance to actually consolidate your infrastructure. The end result should be that your limited IT budget dollars should be able to go much farther which should make your IT dream team happy.

What All Of This Means For You

If you find yourself getting excited about cloud computing, then that’s ok – it sure seems as though everyone else is! However, keep in mind that cloud computing is a trendy buzzword and so we need to be careful that we’re not getting caught up in the hype.

What we can learn from other IT shops is why they are interested in cloud computing. The ability to use this technology transition as an excuse to build a private cloud that consists of standardized components that has a great ROI is key. What you are also going to have to realize is that your applications will need to be rebuilt to work with your new private cloud.

Clearly the era of cloud computing has arrived and it looks like it’s going to boost the importance of information technology. We need to take the time to understand what there is to see in this new approach to technology. Maybe we have all finally found a way to transform our company’s IT infrastructure into something that can be managed!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that cloud computing is a real breakthrough for IT or have we just gotten wrapped up in the hype of cloud computing?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

What you can accomplish as an IT manager is closely tied to how much money the company is willing to entrust you with. The more money that they are willing to give you, the more you’ll be able to get done. The way that you’ll get your hands on the company’s money is to create a budget and then manage it. Let’s talk about what you’ll need to know in order to do this correctly…