4 Side Benefits of Moving to the Cloud

Sure, the cloud can speed application delivery and help you minimize capital investments, but there are several indirect benefits you may not be aware of.

By David S. Linthicum

Those looking at moving to cloud computing often look at the direct benefits of leveraging "the cloud," but few understand the indirect value that cloud computing brings. It's time we consider these benefits, and how they apply to the business case of leveraging cloud computing. The list is long, but here are the top 4.

Benefit #1: Stronger focus on security for the entire enterprise

The paranoia around the use of cloud computing leads to better security technology, processes, and better trained people. Cloud computing brings with it a natural distrust of the cloud computing provider's ability to secure their data.

Many enterprises that implement cloud computing, especially public cloud computing, have a tendency to get their security act together systemically within the enterprise. This means a sharper focus on new security models (such as identity management) and advanced approaches to encryption of data in flight and at rest.

Benefit #2: Greater focus on service enablement of existing systems

When moving to cloud computing, the best approach is to deal with your existing systems as sets of transactional and data services. This is required so they will work and play well with cloud-based APIs which are, in essence, services.

The end result is movement toward a service-oriented architecture (SOA), which brings with it the ability to reuse services and the ability to create a more agile enterprise architecture. This provides the potential to mix and match services to form and reform solutions, either based within the enterprise or cloud-delivered.

Benefit #3: Increased focus on enterprise architecture

When moving toward cloud computing, internal systems must be understood in the context of their architecture, and the mission drivers must be better defined. Moving to cloud computing means you must get your enterprise architecture (EA) house in order, enhancing both the people and processes that support EA.

The rule here is that bad architectures can't be fixed with cloud computing. Indeed, the use of cloud computing could make things much worse.

Benefit #4: Provides a good time to better align IT costs with the business

Those who look at the business case for cloud computing must perform a systemic analysis of all existing costs to determine the value that cloud computing may bring, including cost efficiencies and business agility. As this occurs, you can't help but uncover most of the IT costs. You can determine how well -- or not so well -- the costs are aligned with the value they actually brought to the business. In many instances, some of these costs are a total surprise and adjustments should be made.

For instance, we found 10-year-old servers still on lease for many thousands of dollars per month sitting in the corner of the data center. You may discover service contracts and equipment no longer in the data center. Things like that are easy to find if you just look.

A Final Word

The idea here is that cloud computing can provide additional value because it typically forces a reevaluation and an understanding of existing resources. Moreover, it forces us to finally do things on our enterprise IT to-do list that we've put off for far too long.

David S. Linthicum is the founder and the CTO of Blue Mountain Labs and an internationally recognized industry expert and thought leader. He is the author or co-author of 13 books on computing, including Enterprise Application Integration (Addison Wesley). You can contact the author at david@bluemountainlabs.com.