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The rush to get to the Cloud is resulting in a widespread “ready, fire, aim” shotgun approach. The risk of Cloud computing failing to achieve its potential is equally proportionate to our unwillingness to stop for a minute and say “I don’t know.”

What I mean by “I don’t know” in this case is that organizations are rushing to the Cloud without a clearly informed IT strategy. Every component strategy (e.g. IT) and its tactical initiatives exist exclusively to support one or more Enterprise strategic objective. So the Cloud should map directly to an IT strategic objective which in turn, should map directly to the Enterprise strategy.

Many have rushed to the Cloud simply so that they can at least say “we are there”, even if they don’t know what to do with it now that they have it. It is analogous to a dog chasing a hubcap on a moving car; what is he going to do with it once he catches it?

The client-server movement was very similar and the result was absolute chaos. The persistent lack of interoperability and difficulties with collaboration among groups today can be traced back to the time that the client-server model took hold in organizations.

A similar risk exists today in that within the same organization, different groups are taking different approaches to cloud computing which is a direct result of the lack of a clearly informed and defined IT strategy. Within the same organization, I have seen up to four different cloud models in use.

At a high-level there are 3 Cloud computing strategies; all, hybrid or nothing. Meaning that you move everything to the cloud (highly unlikely, unless you are a startup), you have a combination of on and off premises IT resources or, you move nothing to the cloud (also highly unlikely unless you are in the business of making walking sticks for blind mice).

All sides of the debate provide some interesting perspectives but it is somewhat analogous to arguing the merits of a BMW over a Mercedes. They are both great vehicles but they are designed for different types of drivers. Automobile aficionados say that you “drive” a BMW and you “ride” in a Mercedes so the analogy to Cloud computing is not too much of a stretch.

The “all” model is pretty much the Mercedes in that you relinquish the majority of control over your IT resources and can just sit back and enjoy the ride. The “hybrid” model requires a bit more active involvement on your part in that you retain control over on-premises IT resources and the Cloud services provider acts somewhat like the dynamic stability control. It can deal with unanticipated driving conditions (workloads) and is always ready at the flip of a switch.

Both automobiles share many common attributes, (performance, safety, reliability, panache and status), the most important being that they both require drivers. The enterprise strategy is the navigation system and IT is the power train but without a driver they are both useless.

One could buy 4 lesser automobiles in an attempt to get all the features but anyone would agree that would be impractical (Read: Really Dumb). Yet, this is exactly what some organizations are doing in their approach to Cloud computing.

The pressure to “get in the Cloud” is driving the random selection and adoption of multiple cloud models that most likely do not make sense from a strategic business perspective. More importantly the shotgun approach will not deliver the strategic value that should be provided by any IT initiative and will ultimately fail.