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Cloud CIO: 5 key pieces of rollout advice

Bernard Golden | April 6, 2011
The spread of enthusiasm for cloud computing seems unstoppable.

2. Create pre-packaged software stacks. In addition to standardized virtual machine configurations, enriching those configurations with pre-packaged software stacks offers several benefits. First, it moves the organization toward additional standardization. When a developer can get started more quickly rather than having to spend time installing and configuring software components, he or she is more likely to develop solutions aligned with approved software stacks.

Second, offering pre-configured software stacks reduces errors from misconfiguration, always a good thing. Third, and by far the most important, it raises developer productivity. It can't be stressed enough, offering self-service virtual machines and storage is only table stakes. The pace of innovation Amazon is providing to ease developer use of AWS is amazing, and providing raw compute capability in the face of higher productivity alternatives is a recipe for being ignored. Amazon is quickly assembling a PaaS set of components, so don't believe your basic cloud computing will be sufficient going forward. Start evaluating how to extend your infrastructure to provide even higher developer productivity.

3. Integrate the new cloud environment into existing processes. I wrote at length last week about the prospects for coupling cloud development into existing operations processes. There's no doubt that it's a challenge -- but there's also no doubt that it must be done for any hope to exist of directing developer efforts toward internal cloud environments. Failing to provide an easy way for developers to put their cloud applications into product is, in effect, communicating that the organization is not fully committed to cloud computing.

And developers are the scouts, so to speak, for application groups. If developers conclude that there is not a congenial home for their cloud applications, the application groups themselves will soon be looking elsewhere.

4. Market the offering. It's not enough to create a cloud computing environment and assume that application groups will learn about it and adopt it. IT is moving from a quasi-monopoly supplier role to one of a number of acceptable options. Gaining developer commitment and use is crucial, and repeated marketing is part of getting it.

This is not a world of "build it and they will come." It may be unpleasant and seem somewhat demeaning to put on a marketing hat, but that's better than sitting in a meeting trying to justify a large infrastructure expenditure that's sitting unused.

5. Provide training. It may seem that this post has been praising developers, and, indeed, some lionize the position developers hold in the cloud computing world; however, in our experience, many, many developers do not comprehend the new application architectures required to create cloud computing applications. The same is true for operations personnel -- they fail to understand how to provide just-in-time resources and to manage applications with constantly shifting topologies and highly variable loads.


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