What is the Cloud…Really?

question markI read a lot of blogs and articles talking about the cloud. Many of these articles try to go really deep into the technology stack found within the cloud while others try to keep the discussions at a very high level.

While reading some of these articles, I realized that there is rarely a basic question asked of readers. I never see anyone take a step back and address one of the basic questions that I always hear from many clients.

I often get asked to explain the cloud. People ask me to tell them what the cloud really is. For some of us that may seem a bit strange since the cloud has been around for so long but there are still plenty of people that don’t really understand the cloud.

Take a second to think about the cloud. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what ‘the cloud’ really is? If you have asked that question of yourself (or your team or organization), what type of answer did you come up with? Is the cloud a technology or is the cloud a platform?

Does it really matter whether you can define the cloud? To be honest, I don’t think it matters whether you or your organization can define the cloud and it doesn’t matter what the technical definition of ‘cloud’ really is.

All you (and your company) need to understand about the cloud is what it can do for your business. Sure, you need to understand the basic concept of the cloud, but you shouldn’t need to define the cloud in technical terms to be able to think strategically (and tactically) about what the cloud can do for your business.

The types of questions you and your organization should be focused are strategically and operationally focused. You should be asked questions like how can your organization build new revenue streams using the cloud’? Can you deliver your services more efficiently and effectively via the cloud? Could you build a more efficient and optimized data center operation using aspects of public, private or hybrid cloud based systems?

I’d assume that the answer to these types of questions are going is a resounding ‘yes’ or at least most of you should be able to answer with a resounding ‘probably.’   The cloud can do a great deal for an organization without the majority of the people within the business really understanding the intricacies of cloud technology.

Back to the original question. What is the cloud…really?

The cloud is a platform (or technology or system) that an organization can use to deliver services to their clients (both internal and external) in a way that allows services to be delivered in the right way at the right time.   It really is as simple as that.

There’s no need to go into any more depth into the cloud or the technologies involved. The technical intricacies can be worked out with the IT group’s technically adept professionals and the technical teams from the vendor (or vendors) that your organization may choose for your cloud deployment.

To those people that ask me to explain the cloud and define the cloud, I normally stay very far away from technical descriptions of the cloud and try to define the cloud in terms of what it can do for a business.

How do you usually define the cloud to your colleagues, organization or clients?

This post is brought to you by the VMware vCloud Air Network.

Finding ‘the’ system

384207390How long have you been looking for that ‘perfect’ system?

You know….the project management ‘system’ that will be your savior.

Or the governance process that will ensure that your IT group is running ‘right’.

Or that Social Media approach that will make your marketing efforts ‘perfect’.

Or…perhaps that perfect system that will make you money in the stock market.

The thing with finding ‘the’ system is that there’s never a system that’s right for everyone.  In fact, there’s never a ‘perfect’ system…there’s only systems.

As a project manager,  you are taught that the Project Management Institute’s body of knowledge is “the” way to manage projects…until you are taught that Agile is the way to go…and then you learn that some other form of managing projects is  the ‘best’ approach.

As an IT leader, you’ve been groomed to think ITIL will solve your troubles…until you realize it won’t.   You bring in consultants to implement the latest and greatest approaches and are promised they are the answers to your prayers.  But…you soon realize you’ve just spent money on yet another buzzword…sure they buzzword helps, but it isn’t “the” answer.

As a marketer, you were giddy when you realized how powerful social media was for ‘building your brand’, so you threw money at it.  You hired ‘ninjas’ to run your campaigns.  Then…realized that the perfect ‘system’ they promised you wasn’t working.

As an investor, you  spend years looking for that ‘holy grail’.  Maybe you spend hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for systems, newsletters and software…to no avail. Nothing is working ‘perfectly’.

Welcome to the real world. There is no perfect.  There’s only approaches that work for some and don’t work for others.

Rather than spend money / time searching for ‘the’ system, find what works for you.

Image Credit: Perfect by -= Bruce Berrien =- on flickr

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