Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cloud Computing Woes Q&A

For those of you who have jumped on the cloud computing train, what issues were the hardest to overcome when performing the implementation? When did you encounter troubles?

Firstly, we should keep in mind that "Cloud Computing" is simply a buzzword just like "Web 2.0", "SaaS", and even "Agile". The problem with buzzwords is that they tend to be poorly-defined; more specifically, we make up our own definition for it based on the problem we expect it to solve for us.

From my experience, I have had both the C-suite and the front-line technologists push for cloud computing. However both have had radically different motives.

On a strategy level, I think the biggest challenge is to get a clear set of expectations from those who are asking for cloud, i.e. what do you think it'll do for you / the company? Improve customer experience? If so, how? Improve productivity / reduce costs? If so, in what way? These are important questions that need to be asked before and reinforced during the implementation.

On a technical level, we used SoftLayer for our cloud computing solution and were generally disappointed with the results. I would recommend proper due diligence, and communication with the cloud hosting provider to ensure they can deliver on your expectations. Here's a useful Gartner Resource that can help in the due diligence process. If I were to recommend a cloud hosting provider, it would be either Amazon (as they are the most mature solution in the market), or Rackspace (as they have a managed cloud option).