Recently I was discussing cloud computing with a group of technologists. We were specifically talking about cloud deployment and the implications it has on their business. What became clear during this discussion is that the topic that most needs to be addressed when contemplating cloud has little to do with the topic analysts or technologists are wringing their hands about. The most important topic is not about the hardware.

The cloud discussion really needs to start with identifying the issues the business faces and the type of ecosystem that will be required to support those issues. Let’s face it, the whole concept of cloud is about creating an environment that can efficiently delivery capabilities to the business. Some work will be performed in the business much like they were before cloud computing, but other functions will be done another way. The software created to take advantage of the environment may be very different indeed.

This ecosystem will not have the “command and control” feel we’re familiar with. It doesn’t have the same checks and balances that we expect. It may respond in ways that are quicker than our culture is ready to accept.

All of this means that there are significant organizational change management issues involved. These issues will change the way the organization views computing, allowing for new solutions to problems that couldn’t be addressed before. It also means that the relationship between the various components of the business will be shifting as well.

We can foresee many of these issues so you will treat them the way you would any other innovative activities by:

  • Moving to the cloud as a continuous process and not a single event
  • Maximizing value, which will require discipline and rigorous execution
  • Measuring, which is critical both to understanding what you expect, as well as what actually happened
  • Encouraging open and honest dialog and assessment of the current state and opportunities

Shifting to cloud technologies successfully also requires:

  • Executive sponsorship
  • A strong business case
  • Clear Governance Structure (both at the macro and micro level)
  • Partnership – Across the organization and the extended enterprise (e.g., partners, suppliers)
  • Teamwork and a desire to succeed
  • Open and frequent communication
  • Active change management

When you define your initial cloud projects, you should:

  • Drive to short time-frames for delivering results (90 day), quickly taking ideas from concept to solution
  • Do pilots that matter – if they don’t matter, no one will care about the results

What cloud issues are you facing? What discussions are you having around cloud computing?

If you want to read more about HP’s cloud computing solutions, check out these resources: