Fundamental Truths of Enterprise Cloud Strategy

While there a multiple fundamental truths to enterprise cloud strategy, chief among them is that large-scale transformation of critical business systems to the cloud is part of a journey that will take from 8 to 10 years.

Bob Deutsche joined Intel in 2004 and has more than 25 years of business and IT experience in positions that ranged from data center operations to software development to CIO. He can be found online at Bob Deutsche on the Intel Server Room.

Bob_DeutscheBOB DEUTSCHE
Intel

First, sincere thanks to the folks who responded to my last post (Cloud Lessons and Le Mans Racing), either directly on Data Center Knowledge or via my LinkedIn account. It’s a genuinely rewarding feeling when you become aware that others value your ideas and opinions. I’ll try to continue to earn your interest as we talk more about cloud computing in future posts.

In my last post, I identified and defined eight cloud solution-based framework (CSBF) considerations that, when viewed from a pure IT/data center perspective, might be outside your comfort zone. While it’s true that these considerations are not generally about technology, ignoring them as you implement any type of cloud architecture (private, public, or hybrid) is not an option—and doing so will result in failure. Given the expansive nature of these CSBF considerations, and the way they vary by geography, industry vertical and the particulars of your organization, it’s not practical to try to describe and address them all here. However, I’ll be happy to discuss your specific situation with you, if you contact me on LinkedIn.

I plan to focus my next few posts on corporate strategy. As time and your interest dictates, we can also find much to discuss on ecosystem awareness and standardization (policy, data, and process).

Previously, I discussed Ford’s campaign to win Le Mans. Although flawed, the strategy was simple: match a powerful engine with a reliable drive train mounted on a strong chassis, and piloted by an accomplished driver. Ford’s linking of engine to drive train to chassis to driver is an example of a fundamental truth about what it takes to win at Le Mans.

Boil It Down to the Core Truths

As you consider the basis for your workable corporate cloud strategy, you must also consider fundamental truths. In terms of the cloud, I consider a fundamental truth a principal rule (or series of rules) that serve as the foundation for the entire framework. Fundamental truths are inviolable.

What are the Fundamental Truths of Corporate Cloud Strategy?

Let’s identify them now and discuss the first one. I’ll keep the others for subsequent posts because it’s important to provide enough detail so that you can understand why each fundamental truth made it onto our list.

Here are the fundamental truths that form the cornerstone of a cloud corporate strategy:

1.) Large-scale transformation to cloud computing, including your critical business systems, is a journey that will take you from 8 to 10 years.
2.) Cloud is a top-down architectural framework that binds strategy with solutions development.
3.) Your cloud ecosystem is only as robust and adaptable as the sum of its parts.
4.) A services-oriented enterprise taxonomy is not optional.
5.) Cloud is a verb, not a noun.
6.) Technology-driven business practices often circumvent government regulations, but legal/government policy standards will dictate cloud’s success.
7.) Bandwidth and data transmission may not always be as inexpensive and unencumbered as they are today (geo-sensitive considerations).
8.) Altruistic motives do not generally keep the lights on.

Fundamental Truth No. 1

Large-scale transformation to cloud computing, including your critical business systems, is a journey that will take you from eight to 10 years.

Why does it take such a long time? Because by its nature, cloud computing is disruptive. This disruption impacts your business, the way business units work with each other, your technology stacks (hardware and software), and most importantly, your people and their skill sets.

For your cloud strategy to work at an enterprise (not just an IT/data center) level, you must be able to understand and prioritize your business’s capabilities, and repurpose or eliminate formally discrete and separate functions. This means your data center(s), networks (LAN, WAN, wireless), application portfolios, end-user devices, and related business processes must all be able to co-exist and work together in a way that they were never designed for (at least since the days of big iron). Also, it’s very likely that the way you determine direction in this evolving environment will also change, which can essentially shift your corporate power structure.

To gain value from the cloud, you must completely redefine your enterprise. This means:

  • You must take an entirely new approach to success metrics, including new definitions and measurements. To do this, you’ll need to identify a baseline for comparison to give the changes meaning.
  • Radically change your business ecosystems (skills, grade levels, responsibilities, and likely physical numbers) to adapt to the new normal.
  • Take an evolutionary versus revolutionary approach. Revolutions tend to be good for creating martyrs but not so good for individual survival in the typical enterprise.

Simply stated, history shows that disruptive change of any type is adopted slowly. While small and medium businesses may have an advantage in their ability to adapt and respond quickly to a cloud strategy, the wild card is an organization’s ability to respond to change (with people as the biggest concern).

In the future, I’ll continue to detail these fundamental truths. As always, please join the discussion on this topic or anything I’ve said in my previous posts. If you’re shy about contributing in the public discussion, you can reach me via LinkedIn.

Until next time.

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