CeBIT 2010: Amazon's top tips for cloud success

Cloud computing

Many tout the benefits of cloud computing in the business world, but successful deployments are as complicated as any in IT.

So claims Dr Werner Vogels, the chief technology officer of Amazon. Making his pro-cloud pitch to attendees of CeBIT today in Hannover, Vogels dished out some advice to companies looking to make "the jump to the cloud" - but started by stressing that it's not a blind leap, but a "deliberate strategy."

"There's a few best practices that I've seen," Vogels said. "There's no blueprint... the disruptiveness of the tech changes the way many businesses work."

Vogels said the best way to consider the cloud was as a tool to avoid under using systems, without risking them becoming over subscribed.

Like many before him, Vogels compared his firm's "infrastructure as a service" offering as being similar to the utility industry.

But rather than just play up the benefits of cloud computing as a utility computing cost cutter, he used the analogy to argue against creating a private, internal cloud.

"If you become a private utility yourself... you'll have to do all the investment yourself. And there's no guarantee as a private utility you'll have sufficient capacity. And if you do, you're way over scale," he said, advising using an external service - such as his firm's own Amazon Web Services - to create a "walled garden" inside that public cloud.

Where to start

Vogels said successful cloud deployments take two "strands" - immediate action and longer term projects.

The first "bold" step to take is moving customer-facing aspects to the cloud, such as web hosting and collaboration.

"Immediately, these things should move to the cloud, and they should stay there and never leave," he said. "It's a no brainer, as the American's say. It's ideally, immediately suitable."

For example, Vogel advocated moving marketing to the cloud. "Marketing campaigns are a lot more complex than they used to be," Vogels argued. "They can attract 50,000 or 50 million... you have to be prepared for success."

Once the easy wins are out of the way, a company should start looking to take "incremental steps" to integrate the cloud into their system, whether for backups, disaster recovery or testing and development.

Buy cloud-ready

Amazon's Vogels said businesses must also take the "bold move" to ensure that all new tech they purchase is cloud-ready.

"Sometimes it's still in-house, but eventually you want to have the chance, the opportunity to move to the cloud, and there should be no architecture problems there," he said.