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Cloud Expo: Article

Cloud Strategy First

Cloud vendors on the right path towards understanding enterprise IT needs...

Just returned from the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. It was a grand event with three days of serious business nicely interspersed with fun. With fifteen tracks to choose from, it had sessions for every IT role from developer to CIO, every cloud-based technology, companies of all sizes from startups to global enterprises, and partners to customers.

I have been working with AWS for four years now, and have attended almost all of their events. I have seen the attendance grow every time. But, this time, it was a big jump – something beyond my expectations. Six-thousand people attended the conference. It was very impressive!

So, what has really changed to attract such a huge crowd? One thing I noticed from my conversations with other attendees was that the proportion of enterprise IT personnel (as against those from startups) was significantly higher than on previous occasions. This was a very positive sign for AWS showing that their cloud is actively being considered as a viable option in a domain that was until now quite reluctant to adopt it. And, going by the indicators from the conference, AWS understands this trend very well. I noticed a shift in their sales and marketing strategy. All along, I had been urging cloud vendors to take a global view of the enterprise if they really wanted to make a strong bid for the corporate IT market which has the lion's share within the total IT spend. AWS seems to be doing just that.

In its early stages of evolution, technology has been the key selling point for the cloud. It's been the next "cool" thing that every individual developer loves to work with. As a result, we have mostly seen individual cases of one-off applications put up on the cloud from these enterprises and not the entire portfolio of applications. At its highest level, enterprise IT is all about strategy, management and processes. It's the cloud operational model that carries greater value for it than just the technology. Therefore, when focusing on such enterprise ITs, cloud vendors first need to help them develop a roadmap for transitioning to this new model. Developing an enterprise-wide strategy to rationalize their application and infrastructure portfolios for cloud-suitability, establish a new governance structure and alter their older processes would make it very easy for them to transition to the cloud and, in the process, generate more business for the vendors by having multiple applications and environments (not just one) migrated to the cloud.

At this conference, I saw this new partnership between enterprise customers and cloud vendors beginning to take shape. Both the parties see the value in the up-front strategy / due diligence before diving into any cloud-based implementation. It is quite likely that after the initial strategy piece is completed, cloud adoption may make a slow start. In fact, some enterprises may prefer it that way until they get some level of confidence. But, having a strategy in place will help in setting priorities in order, defining a roadmap and allocating appropriate funding for every step in the way so that they can surge ahead at a later stage. Enterprises that follow this route will definitely be successful in their cloud adoption. Vendors who support them through this journey stand to gain similarly.

More Stories By Ravi Bhangley

Ravi is an accomplished IT leader with 20 years of work experience, and strong concentration and success in management, strategy and vision. Before launching BizEnablers, a consulting firm specializing in enterprise cloud strategy and implementation, Ravi was Chief Architect at Dun & Bradstreet, world’s leading source of commercial information and insights into businesses. For last 10 years of working for corporate IT, he held several senior leadership positions spearheading diverse programs and organizations. He currently sits on the IT Advisory Board of New Jersey Technology Council (NJTC), the foremost organization of technology companies in New Jersey. He is actively engaged in cloud computing thought leadership through publications and frequent participations as a speaker or a panelist. He holds a Masters in Computer Science from Michigan State University.