It's easy to get started with cloud services, which is one of those mixed blessings that can get businesses into trouble. A few internal developers may sign up for cloud services, rogue business units do the same, usage grows, and before you know it, your company has plugged into multiple clouds without a coordinated plan. IT departments need to guard against the impending chaos.We've seen the phenomenon many times before, most recently with virtualization. VMware and other vendors made it so easy to launch virtual machines that the unwanted result has come to be known as VM sprawl, a problem that many IT folks are still trying to get their arms around. The same thing happened with mobile devices, instant messaging, data marts, and the list goes on.
IT departments must learn from these earlier experiences and not let cloud computing spin out of control. Get out in front of the early adopters in your company; steer them toward service providers that are a good fit with your IT infrastructure and business and security requirements; and put the necessary tools in place to manage cloud services before, not after, usage crosses that the line separating early adoption from decentralized, out-of-control services.
In other words, you need a cloud computing plan and policy, an architecture or blueprint that integrates cloud services with existing infrastructure, and tools to manage it all.
In the last few days, we've seen several vendors step forward with products and strategies for the latter. Earlier this week, CA, one of the leading systems management vendors, laid out its plan for managing cloud services. Hyperic recently introduced a version of its Web application monitoring platform that's been tuned for Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud service. And, as I reported a few days ago in this blog, IBM is adding cloud management capabilities to its Tivoli line.
What more can Joe the IT pro do? InformationWeek is preparing a report on how to get into cloud services, a hands-on guide to help you make a smooth transition, which we will publish in December. Those who want to ride the learning curve with peers should consider attending Cloud Connect, an "unconference" with a learn/develop/demo format. The event, co-sponsored by InformationWeek, takes place Jan. 20 to 22 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.
How would you characterize your company's move into the cloud so far: Carefully conceived and executed? Or a few steps down a slippery slope? Let's hear how it's going.