What is one of the most important decisions infrastructure & operations (I&O) professionals face today? It's not whether to leverage the cloud or build a private cloud or even which cloud to use. The more important decision is which applications to place in the cloud, and sadly this decision isn't often made objectively. Application development & delivery professionals often decide on their own by bypassing IT. When the decision is made in the open with all parts of IT and the business invited to collaborate, emotion and bravado often rule the day. "SAP's a total pain and a bloated beast, let's move that to the cloud," one CIO said to his staff recently. His belief was if we can do that in the cloud it will prove to the organization that we can move anything to the cloud. Sadly, while a big bang certainly would garner a lot of attention, the likelihood that this transition would be successful is extremely low, and a big bang effort that becomes a big disaster could sour your organization on the cloud and destroy IT's credibility. Instead, organizations should start with low risk applications that let you learn safely how to best leverage the cloud — whether public or private.

But how do you get the emotion, conjecture and bravado out of the process?

This requires a methodology and tool for framing the discussion and grounding it in best practices. And by the way, this decision process isn't unique to the cloud decision.

The overall decision is one of getting outsourcing right because some applications should move to true cloud solutions while others are a better fit for traditional hosting, colocation and other deployment methods. Getting this right is what Forrester calls "strategic rightsourcing." This methodology we debuted in 2009 is based on best practice efforts from over 200 customers. Now we have boiled this methodology down into a single tool that can be used to drive your internal discussions. Through a structured set of questions your organization can break down your application and IT service catalogs into not only candidates for the cloud but also phases of consideration that let you achieve measurable and meaningful wins while gaining the experience necessary to move up from non-critical applications toward mission critical ones with the knowledge and confidence they will succeed. Download it today. But this is just a decision making tool. You also have to get management of the new outsourcing model right. Marrying strategic rightsourcing with a multisourcing management model by your sourcing & vendor management colleagues.

This collaboration will be the topic of my session Friday here at Forrester IT Forum. Getting this right is critical to achieving outsourcing and cloud-sourcing success. Come join us.