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Cloud Strategy – is that a must have?

February 3, 2012

I remember it quite well. A few years ago a appeared on the stage where one of the very first slides had an analyst statement that CIOs without a cloud strategy would be out of role within 12 to 18 months. That was a very bold statement and I believe looking back it is fair to say it was not true. I have not heard of a single CIO being fired due to a lack of a cloud strategy. I admit this could have three reasons:

  • All CIOs created a cloud strategy
  • I am not well-connected enough get the word that hundreds of CIOs were actually fired
  • The importance of a cloud strategy was lower than expected at that time

I do actually believe it is the third statement that is true. The question whether you do have a cloud strategy or not is just the wrong question. At that time cloud was discussed and perceived as something separate. Something you must consider to keep your edge. If you ask me this view was driven by two major influencing factors. First there was the hype carried by the media and some professionals and secondly by a strange but still existing technology focus.

Another example for the visor being misaligned is a discussion I had with some sales folks from a combined software/SaaS vendor. I was asked what I do perceive as the strongest competitors for the SaaS offering. My answer was and still is the following:

  • “do nothing” / upgrade of existing environment
  • Classic hosters / outsourcers
  • Competing cloud vendors

This got the confused big time. The first statement was explanatory for many difficulties in selling cloud successfully. Nobody goes out and asks “Can I get two kg of cloud”. They do have a recipe in mind and would take whatever helps them to cook the meal best. In other words the customer thinks in workloads in the first place and would (should) consider all delivery options.

This is the reason why I strongly advice customer that they do not need a separate cloud strategy.

What you need to make sure as a customer is that you embed cloud computing as an optional route to go into your IT strategy, into your sourcing strategy, into you application development strategy, etc. If you want you can go the extra mile and pull the cloud pieces of these areas together in one document and call that you cloud strategy but that is really more a less an internal marketing effort.

If you start with the cloud strategy in top of your mind and try to go down to the bottom of all your accountabilities in IT you will create complexities and additional work you do not want. The way I do suggest customer enables them to look at workloads, create segments where cloud delivery can add value and embed these into your broader IT strategy. The key word to gain benefits from cloud computing is segmentation (more here: https://clouddiscussions.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-silver-bullet-to-cloud-computing-segmentation).

So the bottom line message is:

Cloud Computing is another arrow in a CIO’s quiver

As the strategy is the combination of arrows in the quiver there is no need for a separate cloud strategy. Just make sure it is included in all the other related IT strategy discussions.

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