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Cloud Computing: Optimizing the New IT Supply Chain

Chris OMalley | July 9, 2010
2008 was a dismal year in many markets. But it was a great year for cloud computing and thats no coincidence.

•    How can IT re-deploy existing workloads to run in the cloud?

•    How can IT manage its constantly changing mix of internal and cloud resources?

•    How can IT ensure that cloud vendors deliver required service levels?

As with manufacturing supply chains, businesses can actually derive competitive advantage by continuously optimizing their IT supply chains in terms of quality, agility, risk, capability and cost (QARCC).  Rather than allowing the enterprise computing environment to become an inefficient patchwork of cloud applications, cloud infrastructure and cloud platforms, IT can apply cloud management best practices to bring coherence and optimized resource-efficiency to the new enterprise IT supply chain.

Best practices for the new IT supply chain

Five best practices are especially important when it comes to optimizing IT supply chains:

1.    Cloud metrics

IT needs a standard way to discover and describe cloud resources using business-based metrics that enable clear, accurate comparisons between available alternatives.

2.    Cloud insight

IT needs access to vendor performance ratings, customer feedback, expert advice and other information necessary to make informed IT supply chain decisionsand execute them with excellence. 

3.    Cloud enablement

IT must be able to adaptively move workloads to and from cloud resources based on QARCC consideration.  This requires IT to abstract workloads from whatever physical dependencies they may have at any given time

4.    Cloud governance

IT needs to implement a disciplined, ongoing process for supply chain improvement that vigilantly monitors both the availability of new options and changes in business need.

5.    Cloud management

IT needs tools and skills to track, troubleshoot, secure and tune all active cloud resources at least as effectively as it does its conventional resources.

Of course, IT organizations will not be able to gain these best practices capabilities overnight.  And IT professionals are likely to learn many new lessons about cloud governance as more and more companies embrace the cloud and pursue its promised benefits.

But this is no reason to delay the development of essential supply chain optimization capabilities now.  Companies that get ahead of the curve when it comes to IT supply chain management will gain a distinctive competitive advantage over those that dont.  And that advantage will be critical in a global marketplace where business success is increasingly contingent upon IT excellence.

Chris OMalley ( is Executive Vice President, Cloud Products & Solutions Business Line, with CA Technologies.


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