Monthly Archives: January 2012

Excellence is not a act, but a habit – ARISTOTLE

So when did Aristotle live?  384BC through to 322BC. A long , long time ago yet he appears to have great insight of one of the core characteristics of cloud computing. Habit. Habit of delivering  technology resource on time, reliably, without error, performant and without human intervention.

Perhaps if Aristotle were alive today he would be speaking about what makes man superior to other men. He would view cloud against the other ways of delivering IT, and reiterate his belief that the only way to become excellent is to not treat one’s actions as an act, but as habit.

One could argue that IT teams suffer from inconsistent acts, where one day things work and the next they don’t. This is a little unjust as Aristotle would know better than most – life is a bit harsher in reality than in the pages of a book. However,  any IT professional will recognise that there are tasks they can do each time, right and without even inking. Now cloud is a bit like this – data center actions right each time ,and without even thinking. You want some habit? Well you need to be prepared for hard work – the only place Success comes before Work is in the dictionary. Cloud computing is no guarantee of excellence – and if you are going to do it yourself then you need people around you who understand process, process and even more process.

(Quote attributed to Aristotle  (384BC to 322BC ) A who’s writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality and aesthetics, logic and science, politics and metaphysics  ( )



If you really want to succeed you’ll have to go for it every day like I do – DONALD TRUMP

Donald Trump is a rich guy. Right. He reached these heights through hard work ( probably a slice of luck along the way).

His quote about hard work every day is so pertinent to the road to optimized IT service. Of course there is a view that a cloud strategy is taking all the hard work out of providing an IT service .

You are effectively paying someone else to do all the ‘dirty’ stuff leaving you to focus on managing the contract, looking at KPI dashboards and renegotiating a 3 year extension ( oh and your bonus).

Well one day maybe , but for now there is a huge need for hard work each day. If Trump was a CIO he would be looking at his people to but a good shift in as they balance old and new, and traditional and  new, with delivering service excellence. Trump would make cloud work!

Service management is the crux of cloud. No one will thank you for moving to the cloud ( for a lower price ) yet allow IT service to go to the toilet ( for more cost and business disquiet). Few people are getting this aspect right at the moment. Lady luck doesn’t come into; the road to the cloud is a tough one. Be prepared. ITSM lives on in the cloud. Don’t ever forget that.

( Quote attributed to Donald Trump ( 1946-) is an American business magnate, television personality and author


If the only tool you have is a hammer, then you treat everything like a nail – ABRAHAM MASLOW

Cloud computing is often described as being the answer to all or IT woes i.e a good price, a competitive Market place, a utility that you can flex up and down as you require. The whole IT industry is on a cloud mission. The early starters kicked off with hosting, then we had ASP ( remember that ) , we had email in the cloud and then CRM and others followed in sharp succession.

 So its cloud, cloud and more cloud. It batters the discussion all the time. People will tell you that cloud is all you need. All your focus should be on cloud. But isn’t cloud like the hammer ? We pick it up and whack down on the existing IT infrastructure finding fault and reasons why cloud is the only answer.

 Common sense goes out of the window as the IT DIY ‘experts’ demand that cloud is the only choice. They treat an IT infrastructure like the nail as they put cloud into every discussion. Just like the hammer.

 What is needed is a different tool. Maslow talked about a hierarchy of needs  – esteem, friendship, love etc. So for cloud computing perhaps we need a chisel not a hammer. If you have ever seen a true craftsman at work with a piece of wood you will see finesse and guile as they carefully select their target to create something that people want.

 ( Quote attributed to Albert Maslow 1908-1970 an American psychologist who focused on the positive qualities of people’s_hierarchy_of_needs )


I dont want it perfect; I want it Thursday – ANONYMOUS

Attributable to most business leaders in today’s frugal economic landscape when bemoaning the time it takes internal IT teams to delivery an IT solution.

 Picture the scene where an IT manager is building up the cost plan for a key project. Lets say it is consolidating the datacentre with a virtualization solution. The IT manager is going through a series of meetings with vendors and partners, C02  audits, whiteboard sessions, evaluation assessments, proof of concepts and more. All honourable activity and quite necessary. After all this is the BIG project for the year.

 But the IT Manager is a perfectionist and because this is a big decision he wants to do it right. Of course. This unfortunately takes time and the business have a good reason why they need the datacentre consolidated. They are buying a new company and need to expand the IT systems quickly.

 Frustratingly the IT Manager doesn’t understand (or feel ) the pressure till eventually the CEO demands “I don’t want it perfect, I want it Thursday..”. Given the agility of cloud being able to serve up virtual data center resources within hours, the IT Manager had better wake up and smell the cheese!


None of us is as smart as all of us – JAPANESE PROVERB

This is why cloud is so inevitable.  Think back. How did we get electricity in the very old days? No I don’t mean rocks and sticks. I mean the 19th century where water wheels produced steam that drove turbines that generated electricity. But then a revolution saw the local supply of electricity to mills and factories move to a central service supplied from grids where economies of scale lowered the cost, increased the safety and drove production  output up.

 Wind forward. 2012. This is the same characteristic that cloud is headed.  You see individually we are quite smart people. We all know a smart person or two but when it comes to IT we are facing the same decisions our forefathers had centuries ago. How do we scale our operations  ( IT strategy and business growth ) so that we don’t end up building expensive local plants ( on premise data centers ) to provide our needs ( data and business intelligence ) ?

 The time is right to collectively discuss common IT issues with others just like no doubt people did when thinking local electricity  production was becoming untenable.  Cloud companies are such people because they do understand how to tap you into this cloud resource. Working with smart people is the answer; working alone is not very smart.


There isn’t enough capability in ordinary people to tinker with such a complicated piece of machinery– DAVID R BROWER

What was the famous environmentalist referring to? The planet and its awesome DNA of complex environmental architecture of course! Makes cloud computing look positively prehistoric? After all a bunch of electronics, cables and buildings do not come close to the DNA of algae or the jellyfish. A humbling comparison wouldn’t you say?

But to the mere mortal IT person cloud does have DNA complexity, and I’m sure Brower would see similarities in his statement about how cloud computing architectures have nuances and structures that are positively scientific and evolutionary.

Cloud machinery is complex. It just has to be. Think about it.  I mean you cannot take what you had before in traditional data centers and magic it up to the cloud. Just like the jellyfish, cloud  Brower identified with smart people who understand the delicate balances of our planet and its environs.

Similar smart CIO and senior IT people also recognise that ‘there isn’t enough capability in ordinary people (IT teams ) to tinker with such a complicated piece of machinery’. Note -the smart ones.

Possibly the ones you want to sell something called Private Cloud to? Think on.


(Quote attributed to David R Brower (1912-2000) who created Friends of the Earth among many other notable achievements – mountaineering being prominent.



Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple – DR SEUSS

How prophetic. For cloud decisions the questions are very complicated. Don’t underestimate this.

These are big ticket decisions because you are effectively changing the way you do IT. It effects many things ranging from peoples’ jobs, service levels, security risks, costs and ultimately how well your business will maximise the decision to move to cloud.

Of course there are many ways to do cloud  and they can be tactical or business changing. And by the way it is complex because cloud is the next wave of technological change , and for most of us, the first major change we have experienced.

Get this last bit? Were you around for mainframe computing? Did you decide to use client server? Was the web your decision? I reckon the answer is no.

So the questions need a lot of hard work to get the truth out of the people answering them to fully appreciate the evidence behind your recommendation to make the answer of cloud. Simple ? Dr Seuss definitely understood cloud!!!!

( Quote attributed to Dr Seuss (1904-1991)  an American poet who wrote childrens’  stories and poems and films like Cat In The Hat.



Nothing happens unless first a dream – CARL SANDBURG

Who dreams about solving IT problems? Well not many people I suspect outside of IT teams, but a lot of operational people, CTOs and now CFOs do ponder about how they ‘fix’ IT issues once and for all.

Many wish for a time when capacity is not an issue, support desk is smooth running and a positive contribution to the business. We look at the spin and hype which makes cloud computing appear like a dream like experience, where everything is white and clean, and full of harmony and serenity.

But it isn’t wrong to have a dream. A vision. A goal. Anyone who talks about ‘moving to the cloud’ needs to have a dream otherwise nothing will happen. Why? Well most hard nosed CFOs will not appreciate a wishy washy proposition for a cloud solution.

But it’s a Catch 22 situation as people fail to convert dreams into plans. They don’t have the tools to do the conversion. This is where Public Cloud will potentially win the day over time, as more and more cloud brokers will demonstrate that their services can solve these insurmountable problems we face today. Are we ready or does it need more things to drop into place first? Based on our experiences of IT almost certainly YES.


(Quote Attributed to Carl Sandburg a well known USA poet who lived 1878 and 1967. Winner of Pulitzer Prizes)





For an introduction lets examine the quote that makes up the title of this blog book – If Cloud is the answer what is the question? 

 Doesn’t it amaze you when you see people talking about cloud in a very  matter of fact way, as they describe how beneficial a cloud strategy can be without any real experience or business substance . They say things like “you need to move to the cloud its a no brainer”, or  “cloud is the only option to solve your issues”, “you need a cloud strategy to compete in your market place”. 

 However, you rarely hear these people actually trying to find out what the real question is in the first place. And I know why! Because they aren’t sure how to deal with the responses they may get, and because it is really hard to build a cloud business case.   

 Dealing with objections and clarifications often does not fit well with people selling product. They just want to sell you something; something that may not be ready as well. Too often cloud solutions are still in ‘the kitchen’ in terms of capacity and track record. Call it beta or a pilot, but some cloud vendors are quick to market with incomplete offerings and are looking for critical mass to justify spending more on building a robust and scalable platform. 

 Cloud is a complex answer to give to someone,  and if you are going to give it out then you had better worked out all the questions you need to have asked and anticipated your responses. 

 So I take a lot of quotes made by people who have never heard of cloud computing, but if they had would have probably asked a few questions themselves about the good, the bad and the ugly of cloud solutions and decisions. 


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If cloud is the answer what is the question