My day job gives me the opportunity to talk about the impact of IT changes to companies of all shapes and sizes. One of the common threads that bind them is the desire to be more like SaaS providers such as Salesforce, Google Docs and the like, and less like the corporate IT department of old.

One of the key changes will be preparing for scale before you’re even confident that your service will gain traction. One thing I am confident of is that, like the rock gods Spinal Tap, painting an 11 on your website will not be enough to make them believe the service is any better. Sadly, you’re going to have to understand the production line mechanics of the cloud world if you’re going to thrive.

There are a number of changes required to being more “cloud-like,” none of them written down in a book anywhere that I know of. I believe that’s largely because the opportunities, issues and challenges are still being worked through – in other words, we’re at chapter 0 of a book where the plot, the characters and the location are all still to be defined, let alone concluded.

Becoming more agile and innovative is a lot more like improvisational theatre than a set script. Having said that, I’ve collected a number of my thoughts and observations together in my Top 12 IT management challenges for 2012 series. That series spawned a number of requests for tool suggestions, case studies and generally more information.

While there’s no “one true source,” one of the most helpful sites I’ve encountered for cloud wannabes is High Scalability which is a site dedicated to curating case studies and architectures of cloud (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS) providers both big and small. It provides an interesting behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to run a cloud, grow it from small to large, and looks at operating principals, software and cultural issues from a real world perspective.

While it might get a little geeky for some a(the sidebar advertisements are a clear indication of the target audience), the style is clear enough that even less technical types could drop it into their favorite RSS reader. In the same way you might read architecture and design magazines before thinking about re-modeling, you can flick through sites like these when you’re next waiting for a train/plane and be ready to ask some challenging questions as you’re planning your next web application.