“Ready, Fire, Aim” at Cloud Computing

A thirty-year-old management consulting slogan plus the arch-buzzword of tech? What’s not to like?

I do think the phrase is apt though, not just because doing something practical is the best way to start cutting through the hype and confusion around cloud computing. It’s also because “Ready, Fire, Aim” suggests that another shot is on the way; in other words a cycle which will continue until something is achieved. But what?

To “merge cloud computing into the actions and thinking of the organisation” would be one way to put it. Action is not enough, this isn’t an infrastructure item to fit and forget. A good understanding and a continuing interest in new cloud developments needs to be part of the organisation’s technical culture. The skunk works project from my previous post needs to share its newfound knowledge.

An individual with technical responsibility should be able to say, “I know how cloud computing benefits us. I don’t have to understand everything in full detail, because there are people, processes and pre-assembled components to support me. If I need to know about something, I start with the organisation’s knowledge base, which has a list of reliable outside information sources for further research. When I find something useful I add it to the knowledge base.”

Cloud computing is almost a case study for “Ready, Fire Aim”. The speed of change is one obvious reason. If too much time is spent analysing the best way forward, it won’t be the best way any more. Another point in favour is that the cloud environment is easy to keep separate from in-house computing.

Microsoft Azure in particular helps users to “just get started” and progress gradually. This will be familiar to you if you know about Windows Server 2012’s “Full Install” and “Core” modes. An administrator who wants to reduce the attack surface and automate server administration would want to run in Core Mode, where there is no GUI and administration is done with Powershell scripts. Unfortunately this is a steep cliff to climb – but a system can be switched from Full Install to Core mode without re-installing it. So you can work with the GUI while developing suitable Powershell scripts in preparation for Core mode.

Management of Azure resources can evolve in the same way, by using the Portal GUI and developing Powershell scripts in parallel.

In another post I’ll explore how this change in company culture can be put into action.

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