At Forrester's IT Forum EMEA 2010 this year, cloud computing is one of the hot topics that everyone wants to talk about. There are so many implications for every IT professional from CIO on down. Forrester Principal Analyst James Staten has become one of the most widely read and influential analysts on the topic and will be presenting his ideas at both the US event in Las Vegas next week and Lisbon June 9-11. We decided to get some insight into his event content plans to get the dialog going.

YATES: Hi James. You've been researching cloud computing for a couple of years now. What new ideas and lessons will you bring to our Forums this year?
STATEN: I want everyone to know that cloud computing is no longer an "if" but a "when." You must take steps now to understand what it really is, how and where it can deliver value to your organization and how you need to approach managing it. Is it best to stick with SaaS or should you be deploying new services directly to the public clouds like Amazon EC2 or Windows Azure? What applications are candidates for the cloud, and which should remain in-house? And for how long? Those are the questions I'll be tackling in my keynote speech in Las Vegas. In the track sessions in Las Vegas and Lisbon, we'll be diving into justifying your cloud investments. We'll review the ROI of cloud computing, identify the most efficient uses of infrastructure cloud services, apply what others have learned to our attendees' organizations.

YATES: How does this tie into the overall theme of making business technology real?
STATEN: My keynote gives real world examples of how companies are leveraging, managing and deriving value from the cloud and shows how those who are furthest down the learning path with it stand to threaten established leaders. The US market is leading this charge and most of the clouds are based in US data centers, making it easier for this market to lead. For EMEA, the regional and national regulations make things more complicated, but we'll tackle those issues too.

YATES: What steps would you like to see attendees take after hearing your presentation?
STATEN: Put together a team of IT and business leaders to figure out how your company can leverage the cloud now. Start experimenting with cloud services today – you can’t understand the value of it until you get your hands dirty. Go down parallel paths of investment in public and internal clouds.

YATES: You've done a lot of research into what you call "Strategic Rightsourcing." Is that part of your presentation?
STATEN: I really would have liked to spend more time on this aspect. This is a megatrend for how IT becomes more effective and business relevant by shifting from a group that runs all IT services to one that delivers IT services – regardless of their origin. This is a must-do for all IT departments. Cloud is just a subset of the many options available to drive up IT agility and effectiveness. I certainly hope to be able to talk to attendees about this during one-on-one sessions.

YATES: You are also running sessions at the Forrester Leadership Board Member Meetings. What will you be talking about with the members?
STATEN: How to take the first of my keynote recommendations and make it real – create a cloud leverage team. Using a real-world scenario, we will work through the personnel, culture and organizational issues that can make this effort challenging. What role does security, enterprise architecture and IT leadership play in this?

YATES: What other ideas are you working on that people should be on the lookout for in the coming months?
STATEN: In my ITF session I’ll be providing attendees with a practical methodology for determining the ROI of a cloud investment, and this will become a report and interactive tool in the next coming months. Also, as virtualization becomes more mainstream I will be looking at a collection of new hardware offerings aimed at optimizing the infrastructure below — solutions known as converged infrastructures. Do they really add value? I’ll also be publishing a report that breaks the myth that if you buy a cloud-in-a-box developers will come to you. After that clients should be on the lookout for Forrester Waves on IT consolidation consultancies and Infrastructure as a Service cloud platforms.

YATES: Thanks James and we look forward to all your keynotes and presentations at IT Forum.
STATEN: I’ll be at ITF through the duration of the event and I’m expecting to have a full 1:1 calendar during the event, so attendees should book time with me today. See you in Las Vegas and Lisbon!