Our latest survey on IT budgets and priorities shows that 35 percent of enterprises have a big focus on cloud computing (calling it a high or critical priority), but do we really know how best to apply that investment? 

We continue to see a large disconnect between what the business wants from cloud services and what the IT department wants to offer and support. The short story is the business wants public cloud services (or something very, very close to this value proposition) for delivering new services and capabilities to market. Yet IT wants to offer private cloud solutions that improve operational efficiency and drive down overall IT costs. IT doesn't have its head in the sand about business' demands, they just have to balance these desires against what IT is measured on – the cost and security of services provided. And frankly they don't trust the public cloud.

Knowing the psychology above, how best can an enterprise set a winning cloud strategy? if it invests purely against the business care-abouts it may win time to market but risks investing ahead of its ability to support and protect the business. If it invests against the IT priorities it risks alienating the business, increasing circumvention and being a laggard competitively. The answer lies in striking an appropriate balance between these conflicting priorities and choosing a strategy that encourages the most collaboration between business and IT and accelerating everyone's experience level with these new technologies. And that balance will be different for every firm based on their competitive market, regulatory environment and geography. But in general, most enterprises are being far more conservative than they should.

This means that a successful cloud strategy should push you outside your comfort zone, force organizational change in IT and accelerate innovation. It requires IT to take a leap of faith. How do you ensure you don't make this leap blindly but jump where others have jumped before and follow practices others have shown work? You need a playbook. And that's exactly what Forrester now provides. 

The Forrester Cloud Computing Playbook provides CIOs with a practical guide to getting the most from their cloud investments by structuring our research findings, forecasts and recommendations into easy to follow modules that guide you through understanding, application, operationalization and advancement. It provides tools for assessing your current maturity, comparing costs, building policies, assessing the readiness of cloud services and vendors, and case studies showing how others have succeeded in leveraging cloud economics. 

It starts with an executive overview of the space written by John Rymer, who looks at where we are today with cloud and how you can gain the most from it. Like all Forrester Playbooks, our practical cloud analysis is broken down into four buckets: 

  • Discover: This is where you can learn about the state and future of cloud computing. Here you will find an update to our landmark 2008 report, "Is Cloud Computing Ready for the Enterprise?" In the 2012 edition, "Make the Cloud Enterprise Ready," we argue that cloud services are ready for enterprise consumption but enterprise IT has to become ready for the cloud. It contains practical advice about how to get there. You will also find "Improve Productivity With the Cloud" an examination of the core issue presented at the top of this blog – resolving the conflicting priorities between business and IT. We then encourage you to "Assess Your Cloud Maturity" to determine what operational changes to focus on internally to make the most from cloud.
  • Plan: Here you will learn how to plan your strategy for maximum organizational benefit. It starts where all good strategies should, "Drive Savings and Profit with Cloud Computing," a report that examines the unique economic model behind cloud services. This is core understanding required to get your cloud strategy right. Then Randy Heffner helps you understand how to "Integrate Cloud Into Existing Architecture Strategies." To prepare you for how cloud will impact your long-term plans, we show you how to "Master 10 Trends for Your Cloud Journey."
  • Act: Once you have determined your maturity, understood the economics of cloud and plotted its horizon, it's time to start shifting your organization for cloud success. This starts when you stop feeling like you have to manage and operate everything and instead let your organization leverage cloud by "Proactively Engage Cloud Buyers," in your business units but "Put Guardrails In Place to Drive Cloud Success." Then look at your overall portfolio and start to "Rightsource Your Applications for the Cloud."
  • Optimize: After you have gained initial experience managing cloud services, encourage proactive engagement by the business and started to shift applications to the cloud, it's time to focus on how you can gain more from this experience. Dave Bartoletti shows you how to, "Understand the True Cost of Cloud Services." As you support and manage these services you will need to adjust how you measure your team, which can be done using the balanced scorecard approach Forrester has developed. Finally, you will need guidance for making sure you measure your cloud success against metrics that matter and evolve with involvement and relevance of the business. This means making the business a full partner in your strategic planning. "Onboard the Business to Your Cloud Strategy" shows how to do this successfully by following the practices that have worked for your peers.

Beneath these core reports you will find a wealth of additional toolkit research including case studies, market overviews, TechRadars, guides to investing in private clouds, vendor analyses and trend reports from analysts on the CIO, Application Development & Delivery, Enterprise Architecture, Sourcing & Vendor Management and other role teams who are all here to ensure your strategy is the best it can be. 

Where should you start? I recommend assessing your maturity first and foremost so you can determine what's realistic as a plan for 2013. then read my report, "Make the Cloud Enterprise Ready" to ensure you have a solid understanding of what is (and isn't cloud) and what it takes to incorporate it into your portfolio. Then pick from the modules that best meet your current state of cloud investment. 

For a more hand-on approach to cloud success, Forrester Consulting offers full-day and two-day workshops aligned to each phase of cloud strategy investment. 

Then come back often, as the Forrester Cloud Computing Playbook is a living tool that is constantly being refreshed, added to and updated with the very latest in research, conclusions and findings in this fast moving market. And be sure to follow the analysts who support this playbook in the blogosphere and Twitterverse to get the inside scoop and deeper understanding of the latest news in the cloud market. 

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