Thinking about cloud (CloudThink) involves less about IT but more around what you are looking to achieve with it. What is your business strategy? Where are you in your business maturity model? What problems do you think cloud will solve?

To that end I created the following graphic to illustrate the problem:

Right Cloud, Right ReasonsThe worst scenario is “Wrong Cloud, Wrong Reason” which is where the business leadership does not know what it wants but knows it should think about cloud and gets IT to implement something to appear to be achieving. Without having answers to the questions I posed earlier how is the business ¬†ever going to pick the right cloud solution?

The second worst position is “Wrong Cloud, Right Reason” which is typically the misselling of a solution by a service vendor who is not able or willing to look at all the cloud options that are available to meet the needs of the business. A provider who only offers IaaS or one who only has one flavour of a BPaaS ERP solution is not going to give you the strategic and wider reaching cloud solution.

The least likely, but still possible, is the “Right Cloud, Wrong Reason” scenario. Consider that you thought through your business needs for this budgetary year and you had delivered a cloud solution that met that need. You delivered the right cloud. Were your reasons complete? Considering the three-, four- or even five-year needs for your business rather than point solutions in the short term means that you select the right cloud and use it to its fullest. Wrong reasons, even with the right cloud solution, lead to poorer ROI and higher TCO.

To achieve the “Right Cloud, Right Reasons” ultimate scenario requires a sound understanding of your business goals and a well defined strategy of where you want to be and when you want to get there. Not every business application is likely to be suitable for delivery in the cloud. What is key, required and possible all need to be defined and the impact of change, risk, security, resiliency and availability need to be understood before undertaking the move to cloud.

Central to all of this is the need to have CxO level sponsorship. What IT departments think they should be delivering may not tie up with where the leadership is thinking the business needs to go. Cloud is a top down business decision and the key decision makers in an organisation need to lead and drive the cloud strategy to ensure that it delivers on its promise.

Cloud is here and it works. The choices are wide and varied and each has different business  targets. Only when you undertake the right cloud thinking do you reap the rewards.