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Business Users Should Drive Private Cloud Designs, Not IT

Enterprise cloud projects give us a chance to realign IT with the business

Another observational blog post as I try to catch up from not blogging for three months. This is what happens I spend a bunch of time on the street helping customers fulfill their cloudy dreams… :)

One of the things I’ve been trying to evangelize is that for the first time since the dawn of IT, enterprise cloud projects give us a chance to realign IT with the business.  Despite all of the claims over the years of business value, I think cloud really is the change opportunity the business has been looking for, although they won’t call it cloud.

For decades IT costs have grown, and IT has enabled those that use it to become more efficient and grow to levels they never could have without it.  But if you think way back to the first huge ‘computers’ that some of the biggest companies purchased, it wasn’t so they could have email, it was so they could have an electronic general ledger or customer database that could help them grow to new levels or provide measurably better service to existing customers.   In other words, “corporate IT” was pulled in to existence by the business because there was a real, quantifiable need.

Sometime between the business going “wow we can now send out 3x as many invoices in a month thanks to this room and we can really grow the business” and the mid 90’s, something drastically changed.  The business stopped looking at IT as a core enabler and started looking at them as a cost center.  Yes, IT delivered value, and yes, IT was now core to the business – but only because so much of the business was run on and through a computer.

A few years ago I was involved in a project at a fortune 500 to really look at IT spend and try to equate that to REAL business value – beyond just being ‘operational’ – places where IT was really enabling the business to grow top or bottom line.  As you might imagine, it was a very short list.

So where am I going with this?  Most private cloud projects I’ve run in to are being driven by IT under the guise of efficiency, agility, cost savings, etc.  Can those actually come true?  Sure, and sometimes they really do.  In reality, unless the business users are telling you what this “private cloud” should do (and guess what, they won’t be calling it ‘private cloud’), and how it will really help them grow the business in ways that are meaningful, you’re not making a difference.

Bottom line: stop designing the vision, scope and capabilities of your private cloud in the IT vacuum.  Put the word ‘cloud’ away, get your walking shoes on, and go spend a couple of weeks talking to key business users in your company about what they REALLY want from IT.  Help them dream a little about what they would LOVE to see because it would blow up their division/project/forecasts/etc.  I guarantee that what you come back with won’t seem like the ‘private cloud’ you originally thought you should build, and instead, maybe you build a room-sized computer that will truly enable the business to take things to the next level.

Do you agree or disagree with me?  Would love to hear it in the comments.

————–

Follow Scott Sanchez on twitter: http://twitter.com/scottsanchez

Notice: This article was originally posted at http://www.CloudNod.com by Scott Sanchez and is his personal opinion.  Copyright 2011 Scott Sanchez, All Rights Reserved.

 

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More Stories By Scott Sanchez

A recognized thought leader on cloud computing, enterprise architecture and security, Scott Sanchez is a jack of all trades that has held strategy and leadership roles at Goldman Sachs, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Unisys and a number of technology startups along the way.

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