Cloudy with a Chance of On Premise

Everyone has heard about cloud technology.  In our personal lives, most of us use it every day.  We back-up our mobile devices to it.  We store our pictures to it.  We most likely use it in some capacity at work.

Really cool, right? It is until you ask someone what it means.

Cloud means different things to different people.  It can mean an outsourced software solution.  It can mean hosted technology.   It can be public, private or hybrid (and the definition of hybrid changes by person too).  The great part about it is that all these definitions and many more are correct.

So how do we make cloud successful?

Just like any other major undertaking for an organization, the use of cloud requires a well-defined strategy that is tailored to your needs and wants.  A cloud strategy will answer several questions, which create operational changes for IT as well.   See the graphic below.


Once your strategy is created, you will realize that cloud is not perfect for every situation.  In fact, your strategy will show you that you will need a combination of platforms including on premise to optimize your technology portfolio.

Now, we have the dilemma of how to decide on cloud and type or on premise.  With your strategy defined, you will be able to create a cloud decision matrix.  This decision matrix will ask critical questions for each application to determine what the best solution may be.  Things to include in your decision matrix would be:

  • Data Attributes where you would look at sensitivity, privacy, volume and volatility
  • Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity including your return to service objectives
  • Costs including software licensing, connection fees and usage fees
  • Application Readiness
  • Security and Compliance Features such as CJIS, HIPAA, PCI, FIPS and others

As technologists, we need to embrace cloud and gain value from it, but most importantly we need to select the right solution for each situation.  We cannot blindly say we are all cloud or all on premise.  As I like to say, Rule 1 is don’t break the business.

Author: EJ Widun – Enterprise Architect for Oakland County, Michigan