How Choosing Your Cloud OS is like Choosing the Next Pope

Posted on March 12, 2013 by

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If you work in an enterprise of any size, Cloud is surely a hot topic for your CIO/CTO. Public, Private, Hybrid, PaaS, SaaS, IaaS, blah, blah. You might have even went down the path of choosing a Cloud solution for your organization with varying degrees of success.

As the Catholic Church convenes PapalCon 2013 to select the next leader of their Church, now is a good time to reflect on the similarities between choosing the next Pope and choosing you Cloud OS of choice.

First, like the Papal Conclave, all of the important “leaders” or your organizations are going to want to be involved. Everyone will have their own self serving interests with a few actually looking towards the higher level goals of the organization. It might even be necessary to meet ahead of time to discuss any disfunction in the organization and what needs to be accomplished to overcome this disfunction; much like the Cardinals did to discuss the disfunction of the Church. While this confronting of the truth might be difficult for many organizations, it is a required cleansing process to ensure success.

Second, expect old standbys to come to the surface vying for your Cloud OS business. Nearly every major Software Vendor has a “Cloud” product of some sort or the other, but the needs of the vendor isn’t where you start looking for a Cloud OS. Much like the Cardinals, you should ask yourself what do your people need. Many organizations fail when the Cloud project becomes an operations project. But Cloud isn’t about making things easier for the operations teams, Cloud is about delivering the services your developers need to serve the business. Choose the Cloud OS that is going to make it easier for you to deliver these critical services in the end. Remember, your competition when talking to your development teams is AWS, not a managed service provider. Afterall, developers are the new kingmakers; have them crown you king.

Third, be risky and go against the traditional grain. Cloud is about executing new paradigms that go against many of the traditional ways IT has been operating. Such a drastic shift in thinking, often requires drastic actions. Don’t be afraid to be the “Neutron Jack” of IT. Unlike our Holy friends in Rome who will most likely pick the “safe choice”, picking your Cloud OS might require you to pick non-traditional vendors that understand Cloud Computing and can guide your organization to success. Think RackSpace, Eucalyptus, CloudStack, Nebula, Piston, and CloudTP instead of IBM, HP, Accenture, or PWC. But this advice also applies to your organization. Dont be afraid to break down the traditions and dogma that keeps your organization blind to the problems around you, and any true leader in your organization should already be doing that, Church or IT department.

Lastly, unlike the Cardinals, don’t blow smoke up your organization’s aaS. The smoke stack of the Sistine Chapel is the ancient way to notify the faithful if a new pope has been elected. Your election of a new Cloud OS should be met with similar fan fair, but be honest with the impact and scope of the new Cloud OS. While your migration to Cloud can have long lasting benefits, these benefits will take time to realize themselves. Many vendors will like to hype payback periods of a few months, but realistic expectations are often more prudent with such a shift in paradigms.

While there are also many technical aspects to consider when choosing a Cloud OS, I tend to see those as the easy part. Technology will either work or it won’t, and organizational challenges are typically more of a problem in any IT project; just like the organizational challenges of choosing the next Pope.

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Posted in: Michael's