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What are the steps to sound cloud computing?

Recently The Open Group released Cloud Computing for Business, which takes a close view at cloud computing from the business side, but which is not uncongenial to those looking

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at things from the enterprise architect's point of view.  It looks to be helpful for any of the many line-of-business (LOB) departments and EAs who are interested in cloud or who have already been given the task to create a cloud computing playbook for their organizations.

Cloud Computing for Business, authored by Chris Harding, Director of Interoperability, The Open Group and various group members, should prove to be interesting for application development managers who may soon see their application development tasks ''leaving the building'' as LOBs sign contracts with outside cloud contractors.

"We offer business advice for those looking at the pros and cons of cloud computing,'' said co-author Mark Skilton, group member. One of the cons is the issue of lock-in – the cloud may not be as 'open' as business users may think.  "We try to look at the risks," he said, noting, ''You can still lock yourself into a cloud the same as with hosting or outsourcing.''

A big difference between cloud and SOA, said Skilton, is high-awareness in executive suites. Of course, cloud computing is broadly advertised. Skilton remarked that he recently saw an ad for cloud computing as he got off a plane in Los Angeles. ''I never would have seen that with SOA,'' he said.

Included in the book are both business use cases and business artifacts, said Harding. The business cases help depict ''the situations where enterprises use cloud and why,'' he said. Examples of business artifacts include questionnaires and decision trees the book's authors offer for those that have to go through the process of building a cloud computing strategy.

''One of the key aspects of the decision tree is that the line of business can do a fitness form to find out whether cloud is suitable,'' said group member and co-author Penelope Gordon, Business and Cloud Architect, 1 Plug Inc. She indicated that commodity-type processes may be the place to start the cloud journey, as opposed to business differentiators – processes that distinguish a company. "Where your differentiator comes from is the least likely place to start,'' she said.  

Gordon remarked that early cloud projects of IT departments have often failed due to too much reliance on the 'build it and they will come'' adage. ''They wonder why they don't have critical mass. But, a driver we see is that you have to have a business buy-in,'' she said. Thus, in-house efforts sit there waning, while LOB's enlist outside cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings.

The cloud computing decision tree as disclosed by The Open Group is detailed, but not too complex.  What steps do you take in forming a framework to make the best cloud computing decisions? Here are some highlights of advice from Cloud Computing for Business:

*Ask, 'Does the business seek to explore new products and services in new markets, or to exploit existing markets with current products and services?'

*Articulate which business processes are under consideration, and identify the specific processes or specific process areas.

*Ask, 'What is the scope of an operation relative to the process complexity?'

*Consider how great a need there is to restrict information relative to enabling collaboration.

Related cloud computing information
Information on Cloud Computing for Business PDF - TheOpenGroup site

This was first published in November 2011

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