Recently, a business analyst asked me for some cloud computing reading ideas. His goal was to get familiar with cloud computing without drowning in technobabble or wading through near-religious rhetoric. After sending him an email with some picks, it occurred to me that many business analysts are similarly interested. With that, here is a selection of cloud computing reads and topics you should keep an eye on.
Cloud Computing Basics
In the basics, you are looking to learn about cloud computing components, offerings and economic value. Because without value, there is no need to explore further. Some starting points:
The Economist’s special cloud computing section from October 2008. I’ve linked to the lead article. Be sure to check out the follow-on pieces, listed to the right of the article, in the sidebar.
MIT’s Technology Review recently published a Cloud Computing Briefing. Be sure to read the Introduction and Technology Overview pieces.
WSJ’s The Internet Industry is on a Cloud. The value of this piece is seeing what your business executives are reading. Particularly noting the key players and how hype is outpacing reality.
Steve O’Grady of Redmonk on cloud economics and recessionary times. Me on the credit crisis and cloud computing, and how much cheap servers really cost.
Cloud Computing Issues
Nothing is without risk. The major concerns (as I type this) in the cloud computing space revolve around security, regulatory compliance, delegating management control, and early maturity. Of course, some of those concerns are also present in non-cloud environments. Some starting points:
Vint Cerf’s blog post on the early stage of the Cloud. In a perfect world, all clouds would seamlessly connect, and an organization could easily move applications and data between clouds, or run a business process across clouds. This is the “intercloud” vision.
Keep abreast on cloud computing (and intercloud) evolution by reading smart folks like James Urquhart.
Doug Cornelius’ Compliance Building blog. I covered a cloud panel Doug participated in, post is here.
Another from MIT Technology Review on the current state of, and need for, cloud standards.
As for delegating management control, the key is establishing and managing service-level agreements (SLA). The early collection of SLA requirements, for an outside party service agreement, will be critical.
Cloud Computing and Business
In addition, whenever possible, read what your business executives are reading. Over the last 6-12 months, all of the major business publications – WSJ, Financial Times, Economist, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, etc – have covered some aspect of Cloud Computing.
Most often, these business journal articles lead with the strategies and movements of a cloud computing player – Amazon, Cisco, Google, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun – so be creative in your searches.
Once you are comfortable with the basics, start to read for business analyst specific concerns, such as:
Use cases (pdf) and business scenarios that are a good fit for cloud computing
Cloud computing case studies in your industry
Service analysis methods for business analysis, service-oriented architecture and cloud computing
As for the last point, look at value chain analysis techniques or Geoffrey Moore’s Dealing with Darwin for determining core vs. non-core capabilities. And look for service analysis techniques that drive from business capabilities. This area is a particular interest (and practice) area of mine. I’ll publish more on this in the future.
If you have some additional cloud computing reading suggestions for business analysts, please leave a comment, or send me a link on Twitter.