Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Take an Inclusive Approach

Most people have a difficult time wrapping their head around Cloud Computing because it's a multi-disciplinary disrupting technology. It crosses just about every technical and business barrier that exists from accounting to system administration, legal to storage, and HR to application development. Changes within each group are required to make cloud successful. Who should be responsible for the assets? How will systems be managed? What limitations need to be placed on data access? The questions go on and on and on...

Organizations adopting cloud technologies in the second wave, the fast followers, are learning from the early adopters that having a strategy from day one is critical to success. Everyone needs to be singing from the same sheet of music to ensure the investments make sense and will generate the expected returns to the business. However many organizations are taking a narrow approach in defining who is a member of the chorus. I have worked with many firms that from the start exclude critical organizations such as internal audit, legal, software development, and HR. The net result is often a private or public cloud with few or no applications, that violates policies, adds risk to the business, and cannot be supported because of a mismatch of skills.

Socializing cloud is not easy but it's required for success. Everyone in the organization, from the CEO down must understand how their life changes with the incorporation of cloud technologies. Most importantly the line of business leaders need to be educated in what is now possible via virtualization that was not possible before. It's time for the business executives to dream; to stop limiting their vision of the future to what they believe their IT department can deliver or technology can support. Thinking without limitation is a core of creating innovative solutions.

My minimum recommendation to prepare an organization for the transformation engendered by adopting cloud technologies is to execute the following:
  1. Develop an enterprise strategy and roadmap
  2. Educate everyone on what is happening and why
  3. Buy 3rd party education (computer based training) on the basics of cloud and require everyone to take the classes, even the business people.
  4. Create a cloud council with representatives from all the constituent groups to act as a clearinghouse for questions, collection point for input, and distribution point for sub-strategies.
  5. Bring in skilled 3rd parties to augment your team because no matter who you are you don't have enough in-house cloud knowledge.
It sounds like simple logic, and it is, but it's overlooked more often than implemented.

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