Four Tips to Ensure Cloud Computing Succes

Leverage these four patterns of success to make your cloud computing project a winner.

By David S. Linthicum

In my cloud computing consulting practice and my frequent attendance at cloud computing conferences, I'm beginning to see what works and what does not as enterprises move toward cloud computing. Some things are obvious, but many are not.

Often, it's cheaper to learn from the best practices that others develop. Cloud computing is no exception.

These are four patterns of success that I observe these days. They are lessons you can leverage within your enterprise as you move toward cloud computing.

First, splurge on training. Although this seems obvious for any new technology, cloud computing included, many enterprises don't spend as much on training as they did in the past. Budgets are tight, but as best I can figure, every dollar spent on training IT staffers in the proper use of cloud computing comes back 10-fold in avoiding costly mistakes.

As a rule of thumb, your training budget should be about 7 to 9 percent of your total IT budget. Budget more if you're moving quickly to new technologies, such as cloud computing and big data. The best approach seems to be training that occurs onsite with mentoring or with other follow-up included.

Second, try before you buy. Many jump right into cloud computing by signing up for long-term subscription commitments without conducting a proof-of-concept or other tests to prove the technology.

Reality check: There is always a difference between what's expected and what's delivered with any technology, and cloud computing is no exception. Moreover, you need to get smart, quickly, about the advantages and limitations of the technology. The great thing about cloud computing is that trying the technology is rather simple -- and cheap.

Third, push aside those who won't contribute to the success. There are always people who disagree with any new technology coming into the enterprise, be it PCs, client/server, the Web, distributed computing, and now cloud computing. However, those who take passive-aggressive actions, or attempt to drive failure through office politics, need to be tossed out of the game early in the process.

Unfortunately, many who sponsor cloud computing projects are the same people who disagree with the concept of cloud computing, strangely enough. Today's hype behind the technology drives questions from the C-level, so they are forced to look at cloud computing technology. These situations are a bit tricky. I tend to avoid them.

Finally, define success before the project begins. There should be a business case for the success of the project, including the value in dollars it will bring to the business. I like to define this in writing as close to reality as possible.

Although many people find this a bit scary, you won't know if the technology hits the mark or not unless you set the criteria beforehand. Many attempt to define success as what they were able to achieve, which is like setting your own grading curve after you've completed the semester. It may make you feel good, but it won't reveal much.

Follow these simple patterns, and you'll quickly find your way to cloud computing success.

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

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