How to Plan Your Cloud Computing Mix

Experienced CIOs have learned the hard way that achieving tangible benefits early in the technology lifecycle is no easy matter--whether its OO, CMMI, ITIL or SOA. Cloud computing shows promise and demands attention, but the related hoopla needs to be tempered with a good dose of business sense. The cloud, regardless of its variety, should never be considered an all-or-nothing proposition. Rather, it's a melting pot in which the mixture's properties will gradually change over the coming years.

[For timely cloud computing news and expert analysis, see's section. ]

The cloud trend should continue to gain traction as both technology and business leaders embrace some of the practical realities involved in introducing not just a new set of technologies, but accompanying processes and financial models. At the same time, though, CIOs will face a significant hurdle in convincing business partners that there's more than meets the eye in terms of cost and effort. Remember a few years ago when people were asking, "Why aren't we using an ERP system?" Yogi Berra might say it's deja vu all over again.

Moving from a traditional hosting model to full-scale cloud computing model in one step is neither realistic nor prudent. So for the next several years, most enterprises will operate variations of a hybrid cloud model, one in which public and private infrastructure clouds and traditional data-center hosting coexist as part of the enterprise infrastructure ecosystem. This mixed environment will give CIOs a lot of room to experiment with low-risk public cloud applications before seriously exploring vendor solutions.

Experimentation will be a vital phase in determining the right hybrid cloud path for each organization.