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Ellen Rubin

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The Black Eyed Peas vs. Motherhood and Apple Pie

By John McEleney

Gotta get-get… the Black Eyed Peas get it, heck they wrote a song about it: "That future boom boom, gotta get it now…"―we gotta get moving to the cloud!

We're officially halfway through 2011 and many senior IT professionals are probably looking at their 2011 objectives and thinking to themselves, "How am I going to get everything done?" I am sure all of the IT professionals have long lists of company-specific items, and I am equally confident that they all have something about "cloud strategy" on those lists.

We work with customers ranging in size, regulated industries, purely commercial as well as government agencies. But the organizations that we see making real and measurable progress have one thing in common: they have a forward-thinking executive who is willing to take some risk and simply wants to get moving and demonstrate some progress as they learn.

We also see a lot of fear about determining a cloud strategy, ultimately leading to analysis paralysis. Consider the following "Dilbert" advice from a technology author (I removed his name to save embarrassment):

As part of this process, firms should develop a high-level "cloud adoption vision," as well as a short-term business case for cloud computing anchored to the long-term vision. Align your strategy with your organization's business objectives and risk management framework. Establish a governance process and standards that address security requirements, support consistent and logical cloud adoption, and prevent the proliferation of random, uncoordinated initiatives around the enterprise. And recruit people who understand cloud services and can lead strategy development, vendor selection and ongoing management. Considering these factors and approaching the cloud thoughtfully will make for a smoother, more successful ascent.

This "motherhood and apple pie" strategy is very logical, hard to debate and in theory will eliminate risk; however, I would argue that gaining practical experience faster will ultimately yield better results. No amount of careful planning and organizational discussion will substitute for seeing how different cloud services really work and how specific applications behave in the cloud when end users test-drive them.

It's reasonable to start with lower-risk applications and less-sensitive data, but the most important thing for IT organizations that need to make progress this year is simply: Gotta get-get… get moving to the cloud!

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Ellen Rubin is the CEO and co-founder of ClearSky Data, an enterprise storage company that recently raised $27 million in a Series B investment round. She is an experienced entrepreneur with a record in leading strategy, market positioning and go-to- market efforts for fast-growing companies. Most recently, she was co-founder of CloudSwitch, a cloud enablement software company, acquired by Verizon in 2011. Prior to founding CloudSwitch, Ellen was the vice president of marketing at Netezza, where as a member of the early management team, she helped grow the company to more than $130 million in revenues and a successful IPO in 2007. Ellen holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Harvard University.