Loved those mainframe days – you only needed one, but then came along the AS400’s and soon you had ten – but wait, you needed client server and SOA, oh sh%# – now I have ten thousand servers and I need to consolidate server and datacenter operations!

Is Cloud Computing going to follow the same path?

As a technology strategist I have the benefit of frequently speaking with other CIO’s on the topic of Cloud Computing. Often those discussions are in context to how they can leverage SpringCM’ s easy, fast and affordable cloud Enterprise Content Management (ECM) services. But those conversations are done in context to the overall strategy and reality that the modern CIO will use a combination of cloud offerings to solve business problems today. Some of those services will be internally provided (Private Cloud), and many more will be outside the traditional corporate domain, also known as Public Cloud services.

What options do I have?

In a recent conversation with a CIO representing many million users, the statement was made that Cloud is not really innovation, it is how you put different Cloud Services together that is the innovation, and I totally agree with that. Don’t be fooled however, Cloud is a disruptive use of technology and many of the traditional principles such as vision, strategy and trusted execution partners cannot be ignored, otherwise the CIO can end up with a mess on his or her hands.

Your traditional choices in vendors may already give you a foundation to start from in putting together your Cloud Mash. Take F5 and VMware as an example. Just recently at the VMworld conference we saw how you can use an F5 Load Balancer to instruct VMware to provision more resources for a specific load balanced pool (inside or outside your corporate network), or the other way around based on a variety of application load or other characteristics you choose. API’s in these platforms are becoming stronger and more interoperable every day and should be a key decision point as the CIO chooses Cloud Service building blocks, not just with internal Cloud services – think about a single strategy that solidifies ALL your cloud services in to one cohesive architecture.

Ask your Cloud Service provider the hard questions – if they do not deliver, fire them.

What does success look like?

The benefits of what is available today to us in the Cloud eco system provides more than ever the promise that we can focus on the business goals of the organizations we support.

Choose platforms (PaaS), not just solutions (SaaS) even though often you start with delivering a business solution or need to satisfy an urgent business need. Choose partners that can directly and quickly provide business value. Focus on solving business problems first not technology problems. Manage Cloud Services  as part of you overall IT portfolio and even if the business is getting too involved in your world – welcome their participation. Protect services such as identity management, even though there are competing standards – choose one!

What can I look forward to?

I anticipate a natural migration from Cloud Marketing, in to true Cloud Services – acquisitions and confusion will abound, our business challenges will increase and in this series I will dive in to what I title “Transforming Cloud Concepts into Reality” We’ll talk about topics such as “Can the person with the real definition of Cloud please stand up?”, “How can I trust my Cloud Provider?”, and “I have Cloud – now how do I manage “IT”?”

Schalk Theron, Vice President – SpringCM (