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There have been many Interesting comments discussions about Cloud Computing over the last year.  In fact, many have predicted that Cloud Computing has the same goal as Pinky and the Brain (Pinky asks Brain, “what are we going to do tonight?” The Brain answers, “The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Take over the world!”).  The issue of what is “cloud computing” is extremely relevant as every vendor in the world is trying to spin it unique to them. Ownership of assets is not necessarily what the “cloud” is about. Unfortunately, technology is required to send and receive content; thus, elimination of assets via the cloud is a mirage.

Many predictions have fallen by the wayside but still had a significant impact on the industry as a whole (i.e. Utility Computing, Service Oriented Architecture, Death of the Mainframe, etc). Now lets discuss why.

Organizations need significant sophistication in order to garner the kind of results espoused by Cloud Computing advocates and players. While some organizations will see benefit, they will not realize the full impact of Cloud Services return on asset / investment due to the inability of the organization to consume the service appropriately. A good majority of organizations still consume technology by assets (i.e. this server, that virtualization, this storage, and that secure network) via the way in which they allocate cost in the budget (Capital vs. Operational).

For Cloud to have the kind of effect that Gartner claims, organizations large and small will need to tranform dramatically to consume services. Thus, service management becomes paramount. Unfortunately, many organizations are years, if not decades, away from understanding or implementing service managment within their organizational structure. I am not talking about a particular framework but the basic concept of discrete services bundled together to provide business solutions. All we have to do is look at a cousin of Cloud Computing, Outsourcing.

Cloud Computing is not outsourcing but is similar in that it is a service. Organizations have struggled to realize all of the benefits of outsourcing due to the same issue. In order to maximize the benefit, an organization must understand its crucial service criteria and the requirements thereof. This does not include judging success based upon the reports from the outsourcer (service provider). Managing a service provider requires measurement of key indicators and vital mission activities which may be unique to the business served, not to mention responsibility and accountability that come with it (http://blog.engagedconsulting.com/?p=445).

If organizations were truly in a position to take advantage of Cloud Computing in the way Gartner predicts, they would have the agility to switch providers externally to internally back to externally with fluidity and ease. How many organizations do you know that could do that within the matter of months, not years?

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