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Book Preview: Enterprise Cloud Adoption and the "Whack-a-Mole Effect"

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Many businesses are enamored with the cloud.  They've heard all the buzz and they've been sold on its benefits.  Concerns about security stay the hands of some potential customers, but another aspect that should give pause to enterprises is the potentially disruptive effects that cloud adoption can have on an enterprise.  Miko Matsumura, deputy CTO of Software AG and author of SOA Adoption for Dummies, says, "It's kind of like little kids that get excited to have a dog."  We all know the story: the kids don't think about the responsibility required to raise a dog and don't realize the consequences of their hasty decision until they already have one.  In the same vein, businesses need to take into account the long term ramifications of implementing a new technology like cloud computing.  Seeing this willy-nilly cloud adoption from his enterprise customers at Software AG is what motivated Matsumura to start writing a book on enterprise adoption of cloud computing.  The book's working title is "Cloud Computing Clarified" and it includes a phased model for enterprise-level cloud adoption.  In this exclusive interview with DZone, Matsumura outlines the core concepts in his book and gives us a sneak peek of an initial draft.

Miko Matsumura believes the benefits of cloud computing have been characterized very well, but the methods for enterprise adoption have not.  He says, "It's one thing to solve a business problem with technology but it's another thing to make sure that it doesn't create additional problems elsewhere."  At Software AG, Matsumura works with large customers who have legacy, heterogeneous infrastructure, and are trying to deal with complexity in the system estate.  "The thing that people don't appreciate at the 'C' level (CIO, CTO, CEO) is that cloud adoption, particularly with public cloud, could potentially be very disruptive," said Matsumura.  Disruption can be healthy and positive, he says, but businesses have to adopt consciously.  "Your enterprise can't be a dumping ground for the complexity and cost of individual groups," said Matsumura.  "It has to be a rationalized, coordinated system so that you can optimize globally and make sure you're not doing the right things for the wrong reasons or the wrong things for the right reasons."

Are many enterprises adopting cloud computing?  DZone asked Matsumura this question and he first needed to clarify the semantics.  He knows he's splitting hairs, but in his line of work there is a difference between "enterprises adopting cloud computing" and the more formal "enterprise adoption of cloud computing."  He explains, "When we talk about 'enterprise adoption' we're talking about baking this capability deeply into the infrastructure of the enterprise on a very long lasting basis."

"We (AG Software) have customers that have a relatively strong leadership commitment to cloud computing and are beginning to develop the competencies for that," said Matsumura.  "What we 'are' seeing is that just about every large organization probably has cloud computing experiments going on somewhere.  It's funny because I think some of these organizations may not even know it.  In a way that's the subject of my book - how do you take it seriously and how do you develop a proactive strategy for cloud adoption as opposed to having a bunch of disconnected experiments."

Isolation with a lack of collaboration is the bane of large organizations, Matsumura says, and its one of the reasons why enterprise cloud adoption can be so disruptive.  He says, "One of the biggest problems in the enterprise IT estate as a whole is this game of 'Whack-a-Mole' where you solve one problem for one group and all it does is create more problems for a different group.  If you whack a 'mole' on the business side, 'moles' tend to pop up on the IT side," and vice versa, he says.  The boundary between IT and business involves a lot of risk, cost, and complexity getting pushed back and forth.  You could draw an arbitrary boundary anywhere, Matsumura says, but that particular boundary is precarious because the IT people and the business people tend to be insulated from each other.  So when you whack a 'mole' on one side and three 'moles' pop up on the other side, they tend to be ignored by the side that did the whacking.  Matsumura says this is something that businesses need to be sensitized to when they evaluate the impact of a proposed project.

                 

Matsumura gave an example where the business side could get excited about a new business process capability and ask the IT department to implement it.  "If they don't have a concept of continuous future improvement of that process, then they will do a project, the IT department will bake it in to the traditional Software Development Lifecycle to build that business process, and continuous improvement will be impossible," said Matsumura.  He says that when enterprises do this, they are "pouring the concrete," and when the business comes back to the IT and needs to change things, the process has been immobilized.  In the short term the business wants to get the project done as quickly and as cheaply as possible, he says, but they need to balance the long term objectives to insure that the project remains flexible and is able to evolve.   In his upcoming book, Matsumura advocates his evaluation framework, which enables 'C' level managers to look at project activity from the perspective of IT complexity and business complexity to ensure that businesses have a balanced impact across that boundary.  

In the book, Matsumura plans to establish a deliberate, phased model for enterprise adoption of the cloud.  "Much like SOA adoption," he explains, "there's very discrete phase changes in terms of competency that you need."  Matsumura's program for enterprise cloud adoption has four stages:

  1. Experimentation stage - Testing cloud offerings and technologies
  2. First service stage - Adopting some initial cloud capabilities
  3. Consumption and combination of multiple services on and off premises - A critical stage of evolution where enterprises must recombine services
  4. Becoming a cloud service provider - The most robust stage where companies take their core capabilities and push them into the cloud.

In the fourth stage, enterprises are no longer the passive consumer.  Instead, they project value-added services into a cloud economy.  "This enables customers, partners, and channels to configure the capabilities of enterprise in ways that the enterprise itself could never even imagine," said Matsumura.  This is the true power of the cloud platform, he says.  

The reason he set the boundaries in this fashion is because there are distinct competencies that the enterprise needs to master in order to move from one stage to the next.  "I think the competencies really have to include formal interaction between enterprise architecture procurement and the project management organization," said Matsumura.  "All of those forces within the enterprise need to intersect and interact in order to create a harmonious adoption process."

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Attached to this article you will find an excerpt from Matsumura's book.  He plans to have it completed and published in the first quarter of 2010.  Keep an eye on his twitter and blog for announcements. 

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