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Cloud Computing: Beyond Best Practices

Best practices are a moving target and change with the weather

"How resilient are the cloud computing solutions being sold today?" This appears to be a question not asked often enough by those who are immediately lured by the hyped positives of the concept before there is enough data to substantiate the claims made by the vendors as well as the documentation of failures of applications.

One concept that I have preached and that has held true for decades is "leading-edge organizations do not maintain their position with trailing-edge technologies." The need to constantly evaluate, assess, select and apply new technology-driven capabilities is a continual process. This holds true for cloud computing and our competitive global markets today.

That being said, according to experiences of executive reviews of procurement of Information Technology products and services, which include cloud computing, universal solutions are never universal. There are applications that work and applications that simply cannot be melded into the hyped "one-size-fits-all" solution for organizations that many vendors seem to sell.

An objective framework of evaluation criteria should be employed when assessing these systems and cloud services before they are adopted and monies are spent.

Best Practices Are a Moving Target
There is a tendency for many organizations and vendors to talk about their "Best Practices" and how they all have them in place. This includes hardware vendors and service providers pointing to their "best practices" approach on a cloud computing product or service.

Best practices are a moving target and the people that dwell on their organization's accomplishments of establishing certain guidelines and procedures often forget to go back and review them for relevancy a couple years later. Best practices also change with the weather and what may have been considered leading-edge processes are now trailing-edge processes.

Some touch upon obstacles for adopting cloud computing, but they don't go into detail on trying to create a yardstick to measure and compare cloud computing products and vendors.

What they also do not discuss are the intricacies of mission-critical applications, many of which may not be potential candidates for a cloud computing solution.

Learning the Three Rs of Cloud Computing
The big question when deciding whether to put an application on a cloud computing system is: "What about the Three Rs (Reliability, Redundancy, and Reduced Operating Costs) compared to pricing?" How do they add up to overall Resiliency?

The Three Rs definitely factor into the buying equation, but there is more to assessing these services than just those criteria.

As guidelines and rules-of-thumb are established, it's easy to fall into the trap that once established these guidelines become best practices. Best practices are a moving target and what would be accepted today as the "ultimate solution" could be obsolete in a couple of years. There needs to be a better way of evaluating these evolving systems, their performance and their resiliency.

Moving Ahead with Caution
Careful evaluation of what applications can go into a cloud computing environment is more important than selecting the service provider to provide services.

Getting one application into "the cloud" and having success with it is much more important than trying to spin off all the organization's applications at once and finding out the system was not designed to handle all of those complex applications.

More Stories By James Carlini

James Carlini, MBA, a certified Infrastructure Consultant, keynote speaker and former award-winning Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University, has advised on mission-critical networks. Clients include the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, GLOBEX, and City of Chicago’s 911 Center. An expert witness in civil and federal courts on network infrastructure, he has worked with AT&T, Sprint and others.

Follow daily Carlini-isms at www.twitter.com/JAMESCARLINI

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