Few IT pros would want to work for an organisation which has no cloud strategy at all. However, a vague cloud strategy that doesn't deal specifically in how cloud will assist your business is arguably of even less value.
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IDC research director Mette Ahorlu made that point during a presentation at Data Centre World in London, which I'm attending this week as part of Lifehacker's ongoing World Of Servers coverage. "70 per cent of businesses say they have a cloud strategy but often I don't think there's much more to that than a general direction. You need to flesh it out more specifically."
"Businesses don't invest in IT or cloud or anything for the sake of improving their IT. They always do it for the sake of improving their business. The importance decision makes for IT are in fact the business people."
That includes identifying the apps that will benefit the most heavily from a cloud approach. IDC research suggests the main targets this year will be productivity tools, ERP and CRM. "Its going to be a big year for Microsoft 365," Ahorlu said.
The process requires recognising that there are few cloud absolutes. "Customisation is good and it's bad. A big part of what makes cloud cost-efficient is that it is standardised. It's a balance and there's not one answer."
That includes questioning whether the typical cloud pay-as-you-go model makes sense. "Is PAYG really a good solution? If your traffic is very stable, it might not be. Your ERP solution won't have the largest swings in demand and you can more or less predict them. That might suit the private cloud where you have better security but limited scalability."
User demands around performance may be misplaced. "Users will tend to say 'We need everything immediately', but is that really true?" Ahorlu asked. "There's a cost discussion to be had. You can get whatever you want provided you're willing to pay for it, so be very specific about what you want."
Virtualisation can help with cloud rollouts, but it should also simplify management. "What you need is one big virtual data centre where you can understand and manage the data flow. Management software companies are starting to get this — you see solutions out there, far from complete, but getting there."
Lifehacker's World Of Servers sees me travelling to conferences around Australia and around the globe in search of fresh insights into how server and infrastructure deployment is changing in the cloud era. This week, I'm in London for Data Centre World, paying particular attention to how to maximise efficiency and lower costs in the data centre.