After a great string of conferences including Constructech Tech Day, MS Sharepoint 2011, Meridian UC 2011, Construction Imaging Integrate 2011, bits and pieces of Oracle Primavera, Sage and taking part in various articles with Constructech & McGraw Hill, I think it's a great time for this post; part refresher, part challenge. Within the year I've been part of numerous private discussions, conferences, and speaking engagements about Cloud. For the most part people either say it's marketing rubbish, anything hosted, too expensive, "just another name for what we've been doing for 10 years", or all of the above. I don't disagree with any of those statements if you start eating the key lime pie before you cut it. However, when you do that, it usually ends up all over your face. That said, I feel it's important to continue to reiterate a framework to discuss cloud, so that the above few statements and those to follow can be qualified. Cloud is a business focused IT framework, which when leveraged, will result in Same or Higher Quality (SOHQ) at the Same or Lower Cost (SOLC) vs. Traditional IT. Quality must be defined, but cost is easy to count, and much of the savings will result by eliminating IT staff, the most expensive part of the pie. Getting your head around this is a bit like learning the difference between a Company, Business & Product (for more on that go read "Let My People Go Surfing" by Yvon Chouinard, sportsman, founder/operator of Patagonia). Feel free to pick your definition, my only suggestion is to have one that can evolve, along with your Business strategy. Here's a couple;
NIST (General): http://www.nist.gov/itl/cloud/upload/cloud-def-v15.pdf
TCG (More Business/AEC Centric): http://www.aeccloud.com/Cloud/
Without such a framework, the discussions I hear are mostly vendor driven & sale oriented pitches or reactions. This is confusing information generally resulting in frustration for everyone. I know this first hand because people I talk to say "well of course you want everything cloud, since your in the hosting business". Interestingly, the opposite is true. I go to the home page on our website and explain that I want people to think cloud, as a framework, so that their business can be enabled to drive decisions vs. Traditional IT. If they do this, its likely there will be some work for my company or another provider with this mindset, but only as a result of innovation toward helping customers achieve the intended results of Cloud.
Like many transitions, it may not be popular, or comfortable, especially with IT teams trying to create job security, but evolution is required, the writing is on the wall. If you apply the Cloud framework to all your IT discussions, you will quickly realize that you will be on a path to SOHQ/SOLC vs. getting wrapped around the axle of debate over on premise/off premise, SaaS offerings, security, storage, outsourcing, etc... A long list of those will certainly follow, but slice the pie before you eat it.