#CloudFail: Six pitfalls to avoid with enterprise cloud deployment

Done right, the enterprise cloud reduces IT overhead, delivers scalability, fosters innovation, and improves the way enterprises work. And that can save time and money.

You’ve heard the cloud marketing spiel … faster, better, cheaper. Those are seductive adjectives. But for some organizations, cloud benefits like that can remain out of reach. Cloud Computing is just so…new, and as some industry experts have oh-so-astutely noted, “much can go wrong.” And that’s reason enough for many to fear cloud computing.

But it shouldn’t be enough to preclude it. Perhaps it goes without saying, but your enterprise will enjoy the cloud’s benefits only with the commitment of organizational buy-in. Will your enterprise’s cloud-computing initiatives succeed? Let’s hope so. Winning in the cloud isn’t difficult, but it’s also not guaranteed. If you’re an IT leader, avoid these rookie mistakes … or your enterprise cloud might just rain down on you.

1. Plan for yesterday

It’s classic IT short-sightedness: “Invest now and relieve your immediate pain!” But here’s the thing: Cloud computing changes everything. Yesterday’s planning involved provisioning hardware for a ten-year lifespan. Today’s planning involves spinning up 10,000 VMs. Overnight. Yes, you must migrate your legacy apps to the cloud. But you also must ensure your cloud supports new, as-yet unimagined, multi-component, polyglot-developed, infinitely-modifiable, dynamically-redeployable applications. That is hardly the status quo now.

Today — yes, today –your application developers are leveraging the cloud to work in completely new ways. Cloud computing has the power to change the way your team thinks about delivering customer value. Change the way you think about IT management. Start from your end user customers and work backwards up the value chain. Then map out a cloud computing strategy to get there. You’ll end up with an IT org that’s proactively strategizing for the future instead of reacting to yesterday’s pain point.

2. Go public…if you’re big

How big is your enterprise? How costly is downtime? How much of a control freak are you? If you answered “massive,” “massively costly,” and “massively type-A,” then the public cloud probably isn’t for you. Outages—though extremely rare—can still occur. “Four nines” uptime sounds great, but it’s also unrealistic. Can your org can handle downtime if your public-cloud data is unavailable?

Public cloud is a great IT-outsourcing option…in a one-size-fits-all kind of way. And when something goes wrong in a public cloud, remember that you’ve also outsourced disaster recovery (and limited your own visibility into recovery efforts). No big deal as long as you don’t mind twiddling your thumbs while someone in hosting tech support seeks the root cause of that outage in the Eastern zone.

3. Go private…if you’re small

Private cloud is great, but it’s not right for everyone. Is your enterprise a small business? If you’re looking at a private cloud solution (even a dedicated hosted solution), expect significant upfront investment in hardware, maintenance, and IT management. Or, look at something more convenient like a cloud hosting provider service. And get to the cloud…faster, better, cheaper.

4. Don’t worry about security

Public cloud providers deliver best-in-world security. And it’s fast and easy to push data to a public cloud like AWS. Your proprietary data’s safe there. Probably. But public-cloud breaches — though extremely rare — (say it with me) can still occur. And they can be costly. (What’s your cloud data worth to you?)

“Hoping for the best” is not a sustainable strategic approach. Plan for redundancy and disaster recovery, whether your cloud is public or private. The private cloud route can be safer, but security is under your control (and as good as your own firewall). In a public cloud, consider advanced security layers—Some private PaaSes served from a public cloud can “individually wrap” your applications, so if a neighboring tenant gets hacked, your data stays protected.

5. Ignore data sovereignty

Does your enterprise have international operations? With most public cloud services, enterprise customers have little control over where their data resides. That’s a sticking point for companies doing business in jurisdictions that require corporate or public sector data to remain within a specific geography. If adhering to such data sovereignty mandates is a priority for your enterprise, consider a private cloud solution…running in your organization’s own datacenters in the appropriate subsidiaries.

6. Wait

Don’t wait and see. Cloud computing’s not a fad. It’s a game-changer. And if you’re not moving to the cloud, then you’re Goliath and your nimble competitor is David, using cloud-computing models to advantage. The sooner your enterprise gets to the cloud, the sooner you’ll realize its benefits.

Bart Copeland, CEO of ActiveState will speak about the evolution of  private PaaS adoption on a panel at GigaOM’s upcoming Structure Europe conference in Amsterdam. 

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock user  Vladitto