5 Habits of Cloud-Enabled IT Leadership

    Somewhere inside your organization a meeting is taking place consisting of several people from different areas of the business. The discussion is about a new service the company plans to roll out. Two people are using tablets, two are on smart phones and one is on a laptop. Most of these devices are not supported by IT yet everyone is accessing their work e-mail and either creating or sharing corporate documents. On the big screen, the group is using a collaboration service you didn’t provide and are discussing data in reports from SaaS applications you didn’t even know your organization was using. They then move on to a prototype landing page and mobile app that will provide this new service which comes from a cloud platform you didn’t approve. The VP at the end of the table reviews it and says, "Great. This all looks good. Let’s go live."

    Click. It’s live. Yet there’s no IT person to be found in the room. You weren’t invited. Nobody thought IT might be needed.

    "Concentrate on integrating in-house systems and legacy data with the new models."

    This is the new reality that is being introduced by the cloud. With these capabilities at the fingertips of the business, IT has to change its ways. Too many of those around the table believe IT is the department of “no.” IT is the department that explains why things can’t be done, why security would be violated, why things can’t be done rapidly, and how an urgent project would violate the budget. This view from IT flies in the face of business people whose motivation is to get to market now.

    Let’s take a look at five habits for success in the cloud.

    Embrace the cloud (where it fits)

    Not everything is cloud. Certain apps are dependent on specific hardware and are not good for the cloud. But if there are services the company is using that are more effective than what is supported in house, embrace their use and figure out how to make them enterprise ready.

    Get dirty

    Gain experience with cloud apps to understand what can be done with these services to make them work, and to also know what is a risky bet. Discover what apps the business is running, and try them out.

    Realize that there is more than one path to the cloud — private and public and that these paths evolve independently.

    "Get ahead of your empowered employees."

    Set up the private cloud with self-service access for deployers, business units sharing the same infrastructure in a multi-tenant environment, chargeback or incentives to not use too much (and include an incentive to leave), and have some functions that can be passed from the private to the public cloud if required. Most enterprises have to evolve their IT operations to this model and that takes time.

    Acknowledge & leverage hybrid

    Concentrate on integrating in-house systems and legacy data with the new models. Where the cloud provides you with new capabilities, add them. Use web services to extend legacy technologies rather than incur the expense of upgrading the legacy to try to make it relevant. Also, at the point where the legacy is no longer in active use, cut it loose, archive it and outsource it.

    Plan for failure, plan for success

    Get ahead of your empowered employees. Use your position to discover new services that can empower the next big project and actively engage the new services leader as an advisor. This requires a new attitude - "no" is not allowed. And only bring solutions to the table, not problems.

    Run the numbers

    Cloud services look cheap on the surface but may be more expensive the more you use them. Have an understanding of the cost model and what you are incurring. This should not be done with a view to stop using it but to advise the company on how to use it most effectively.

    "Implement as small a cloud as possible ..."

    Capacity Planning in the Cloud

    Capacity planning in the cloud is different, believes Staten. Capacity plans should be done at the service level, not just at the resource level. Instead of once a quarter, the capacity planner needs to be agile enough to cope with cloud dynamics. That means doing new capacity plans every week.

    One final tip from Staten: Implement as small a cloud as possible because the cloud is an experiment at first. Why have it be big, wasteful and expensive while you learn? He told the audience since a small cloud is much easier to fund they don’t need to implement chargeback. When it’s full, developers will be willing to shut off VMs to get more new ones in. Developers will make small VMs that require little storage just to get in to that small cloud. This helps bring about a cultural change. And when the developers and business managers are clamoring for a larger cloud, IT will get its money as the CIO will OK it right away.