This was brought home to me by a tweet response to one I posted about Amazon's announcement this week that it is going to support Oracle's database product. I feel this is pretty intriguing and said so via a tweet. Someone responded "might be interesting, but not until the SLA gap btwn oracle env. and aws is narrowed." In other words, until Amazon provides an environment equivalent to traditional infrastructure, there's no reason to use it.
This misses the point entirely. Cloud providers offer something different than traditional infrastructure and judging their benefit by how well they match what already exists is shortsighted. The reason users are flocking to cloud providers is because they offer something traditional infrastructure can't and assessing cloud computing's benefit should be on the basis of how well it helps one achieve what can't be done in existing infrastructure.
The right approach for a Cloud CIO is to make a ruthless assessment of what the value of each of the applications within the company is. If an application provides no significant competitive advantage, it is a candidate for farming out to a specialist provider. If an application does deliver competitive advantage, it should be an internal IT initiative. The job of a CIO is to execute on the former to provide a funding source for the latter.
Where cloud computing comes into play is the fact that traditional infrastructure is not a very good match for innovation. Slow to provision, difficult to scale, impossible to implement elasticity, it is unsuitable for the kind of efforts Bryant describes. Implementing those kind of applications makes the effort of assembling and managing computing components worthwhile.
Bernard Golden is CEO of consulting firm HyperStratus, which specializes in virtualization, cloud computing and related issues. He is also the author of "Virtualization for Dummies," the best-selling book on virtualization to date.
Read more about virtualization in CIO's Virtualization Drilldown.