Blog post

The road to cloud purgatory

By Lydia Leong | September 22, 2022 | 0 Comments

GovernanceCloud Computing for Technical ProfessionalsCloud ComputingCIO Leadership of Strategy, Governance and Operating Models

It’s said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Well, in my opinion, the road to purgatory is paved with empty principles.

It’s certainly common enough in cloud adoption. Day after day, clients show up with cloud strategies that say things like, “We will use the cloud to be more innovative” and “We will be vigilant about costs and use the lowest-cost solutions” and “We will maximize our availability and resilience” and “We will be safe and secure in the cloud” and “We’re not going to get locked into our vendors”.

Some of these things are platitudes. Obviously, no one ever shows up with, “We will be careless and irresponsible in the cloud” or “Our implementations will be the shoddiest we can get away with” or “We’ll cheerfully waste money”. Principles that don’t help you make decisions aren’t very useful.

Principles like this are only interesting in the context that they represent a ranked set of priorities. When it comes down to “higher availability” versus “higher cost”, which are you going to choose? When you have to choose between a portable solution and a solution that is more innovative, how are you going to make that decision? (And if you think you’ve discovered a miraculous solution for cloud portability, some vendor has suckered you. Badly.)

My cocktail-napkin cloud strategy (Gartner paywall) research note asks you to make just a handful of decisions:

  • Your stance on what to do with new business solutions (i.e. new apps)
  • Your stance on cloud migration
  • Your stack-ranked priority for business agility, short-term costs and long-term TCO
  • Your appetites for risk, transformation, and business independence from central IT

It’s not unusual for us to see 20-page, 50-page, even 100-page cloud strategies that contain no clear decisions about any of those elements, because they are the things that are controversial — so they’ve simply been left out. So the strategy contains worthless platitudes, thoughtful governance is impossible, and actual cloud adoption stalls out on endless arguments that constantly relitigate the same conflicts.

If you’re constantly arguing about cloud-related decisions, or your lovely declaration of “cloud first!” seems to not actually result in any successful cloud adoption, take a hard look at your principles and the organization alignment around those principles and priorities. And make sure your principles can actually be pragmatically implemented.

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