On May 25, 2016

The Top Five “Mistakes” when going to the Cloud

Lists are important: lists for buying groceries, paying bills, for work and so on. I have a pretty large family and a lot of responsibility at work and, without lists, I’d have many irritated coworkers and a brood of hungry kids at home. Some days lists seem to be the only thing for which I have time.

So, in that vein, I want to share a list I recently created for a sales executive and friend of mine.

The Top Five “Mistakes” when going to the Cloud

Mistake #1: Going Too Fast – Success can be a killer.

One of the things drilled into my head in business school was that success kills as many companies as failure. We all tend to plan for the worst-case scenario (more on that in mistake #3). We make lists to keep the wolves at bay but aren’t prepared to beat back the floodwaters of success. Companies are often completely caught off guard by quick and sizeable success.

This is even more true for a typical cloud strategy. When cloud is first proposed to the business it is often accompanied by a very hard sell complete with a 100-point plan for success. Every scenario is considered – what will happen if no one comes, how do we attract more users, what is offered and when – followed up ad nauseam with discussions on the proper methodology for the IaaS and PaaS deliverables. The DR and HR plans are written and ready to go, should anything catastrophic happen, and we tell anyone who will listen that “this cloud is bulletproof.”

What we oftentimes don’t expect is that we actually got it right. Our IaaS and PaaS is exactly what the business units and developers have been requesting for years. The cost and chargeback is reasonable, the service catalog is well stocked with cool workflows and actions. Everything works and works well. Basically, this new cloud starts selling like hotcakes. Without proper planning and a forward-looking strategy for hyper growth, it is really easy to start running out of hotcakes, batter, spatulas and grill space. The first hundred “customers” got exactly what they wanted, when they wanted it, but the next one hundred saw nothing but 404. Failure at this juncture can kill all momentum and turn your cloud into a mud puddle.

Mistake #2: Going Too Slow – Too late is always too late.

This is pretty self-explanatory. If you come four hours late to a party, chances are you missed the party. There is always a good excuse to push innovation to next quarter – everyone is busy and the best people (the ones you want working on your cloud project) are just plain exhausted. But, that excuse doesn’t matter if you miss the party altogether. Take the hit in cost and productivity now. The resulting consequence might be missed budgets in the short-term but that beats the alternative of potentially missing out on the market and ceasing to exist in the long-term.

Mistake #3: Assuming the Worst – Building from fear.

Innovation is about making things better and solving problems; however, innovation is not about constantly bargaining with the Grim Reaper for one more day. With exceptionally bad luck, the worst-case scenario could happen, it’s true. Thus, thought and planning to avoid the worst is necessary but don’t spend an inordinate amount of time and money on a cloud project designed to address a problem that has a small chance of ever occurring.

Implementing cloud technology and methodology is all about speed, flexibility, access to new markets, and faster time to revenue – you know, the fun stuff. Stay focused on delivering something good, something of value and then, once you’ve had some success, you will know what needs the five 9s treatment and what parts do not.

Mistake #4: Solving for Today’s Problems – With tomorrow’s technology.

Cloud is not just future proof – it really is the future. Cloud isn’t a fad or a short-term fix; it is the future of computing as a whole. So when accessing your list of problems, don’t use cloud for only the stuff that is broken today – that is never the best way to adopt a transformative technology – instead try to use your cloud project to leap over the rubbish pile of bad process, bad tooling and past failure. Push the model and push for unconstrained success. Then you can sit back and watch that success force adoption (and adaptation) within your business to the benefit of all. This is the disruptive model, and it works.

Mistake #5: Not Solving ANY Problems

You may consider this mistake as insincere fodder included to cap off the list at five mistakes but you would be wrong, this really is a problem and a common one at that. We see an alarming number of cloud projects initiated simply because an organization thinks they should have a cloud environment. “We need to be on the cloud,” says one executive to another over a glass of brandy and then Poof! a cloud project is born. Or, maybe it’s that the “cool kids” are using dev/ops or cloud separately in the organization and the mindset of the rest of the business is that “we just don’t want to be like them.” This kind of beginning rarely ends well for any part of the business. This isn’t taking Mistake #4 to heart. With this motivation there is no intention of disrupting as disruption requires interaction. This is just the IT equivalent of standing against the wall and making fun of the people who are on the floor dancing. That is never cool.

The point of this list hasn’t been to share any truly deep or arcane knowledge about “the cloud” but was meant to be a fun way to get people thinking about the next step for their computing strategy. Let me know what you think about my list and feel free to share your own list of cloud mistakes with me – TheCloudGuy@Coda.global

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