Three things that could derail cloud computing success

David S. Linthicum, Contributor

According to a new report by Morgan Stanley, Amazon Web Services will hit $24 billion in revenue by 2023. You can figure other cloud computing players will track with that market growth, and much of the funding from cloud will come from the cannibalization of traditional hardware and software. We are changing, and we will continue to change.

Despite the encouraging numbers around the emerging pervasive use of cloud computing, there will be some bumps in the road. While some of these bumps will be a quick disruption around the use of this technology, others could stop the movement of cloud computing altogether -- that is, if those in this emerging industry allow it to happen.

What's important right now is to identify the issues as the first step toward improving the chances of cloud computing success. To that end, here are three things that must stop if cloud computing is to succeed:

1. The acquisition of the innovative by the non-innovative. The buying spree is well underway, and many startups that provided key innovations in the emerging cloud computing space are now part of larger, slower moving, and less innovative companies.

If we look at past patterns, innovation typically stops after the company is purchased. Innovative people who built the company leave after their earn-outs are up (I speak from experience), and the industry is left without further advances in cloud-based technology. This has and will include technologies such as cloud governance, cloud security, use-based accounting, cloud management, cloud monitoring and even smaller Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) providers.

If we look at past patterns, innovation typically stops after the company is purchased.

There is no easy way around this issue, other than to ask larger technology companies without much of an innovative motor to stop buying up smaller and more creative players. For the larger technology players that have more money than capabilities, these acquisitions represent a way to buy their way into -- or further into -- the cloud computing space. For the cloud computing startups, this is the end-state objective of the business, the proverbial "exit."

The hope is that enough innovative new companies replace those that are taken out of play to provide the creativity and innovation the still-emerging cloud computing space requires. If the innovation is not there, the industry will stagnate and we'll return to the same old patterns of traditional IT, which are not working very well right now.

2. The incorrect spinning of the facts to sell your own technology. There is a saying I have: "Stupid or liar -- which is it?" This is typically running through my mind as I listen to a technology vendor's pitch that begins with his or her company's own view of the cloud computing space and how those who consume the technology must think so that their technology is seemingly the right fit.

I'm told that nobody wants public cloud because "everyone knows they are unsecure." Or because "everyone knows that it's really not cloud computing." Or my favorite: "We're providing our hardware and software on a rental-basis now. Thus, it's on-demand, and thus it's a cloud." Really?

The trouble is when those who are not in the know believe the spin and the hype, and thus make poor technical choices (see next issue). These choices typically lead to failure -- a failure to understand the technology and its proper use, which ends up getting blamed on the new cloud computing technology. It was never the cloud computing technology in the first place; instead it was a square piece of traditional hardware or software that was forced into a round cloud computing hole.

3. Less-than-knowledgeable people making strategic calls around the use of cloud computing. You know how this goes: Those in the organization who have the most political pull are selected as the ones to pick the technology. However, they may not have the knowledge or the skills to evaluate and select the right technology. This has been going on for years, and cloud computing is no exception, other than the fact that you can now make decisions that will truly kill your business.

The intentions are always good, but selecting the right path to cloud computing requires a deep understanding of the technology and emerging best practices. You need to be willing to understand your requirements in great detail, look at your existing infrastructure and applications and mash all that up with the existing and future cloud computing technology.

The funny thing is those with mad cloud computing skills typically exist in the enterprise, but they are also much lower in the organization and less connected. When cloud computing began to rise several years ago, those who had the political pull positioned themselves to drive the company's cloud computing strategy, because the technology was hyped and hot. However, they forgot to learn about cloud computing along the way.

The end result is a huge number of blunders, such as betting on a single public cloud provider when a multi-cloud solution, including mixing private and public cloud computing, is a much better approach. Or, building a private cloud that almost doubles the hardware and software spending, considering nothing is actually replaced. Or the most popular blunder: betting your existing enterprise hardware and software provider will also provide the best path to the cloud.

So, what can be done to achieve cloud computing success? Not much really. But there is a benefit to shining a light on these issues, which is typically the first step toward avoiding some of these problems.

About the author:
David "Dave" S. Linthicum is SVP of Cloud Technology Partners and an internationally recognized cloud industry expert and thought leader. He is the author and co-author of 13 books on computing, including the best-selling Enterprise Application Integration. Linthicum keynotes at many leading technology conferences on cloud computing, SOA, enterprise application integration and enterprise architecture.

His latest book is Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise: A Step-by-Step Guide. His industry experienceincludes tenures as chief technology officer and CEO of several successful software companies and upper-level management positions in Fortune 100 companies. In addition, he was an associate professor of computer science for eight years and continues to lecture at major technical colleges and universities, including the University of Virginia, Arizona State University and the University of Wisconsin.

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