Last week I read Cloudonomics by Joe Weinman and found it to be the most complete, well-told explanation of cloud computing’s value proposition that I’ve ever read. Besides the content itself, I was blown away by the depth of research and deft use of analogies that Weinman used to state his case.
The majority of the book is focused on how cloud computing should be approached by organizations from an economic and strategic perspective. Weinman points out that while cloud is on the radar for most, only 7% consider it a critical area. He spends the whole second chapter just talking about whether the cloud matters and can be a competitive advantage. In a later chapter (#7), Weinman addresses a when you should – and shouldn’t – use the cloud. This chapter, like all of them, tackle the cloud from a business perspective. This is not a technical “how to” guide, but rather, it’s a detailed walkthrough of the considerations, costs, benefits and pitfalls of the cloud. Weinman spends significant time analyzing usage variability and how to approach capacity planning with cost in mind. He goes into great depth demonstrating (mathematically) the cost of insufficient capacity, excess capacity, and how to maximize utilization. This is some heady stuff that is still very relatable and understandable.
Throughout the book, Weinman relies on a wide variety of case studies and analogies to help bolster his point. For instance, in Chapter 21 he says:
One key benefit of PaaS is inherent in the value of components and platforms. We might call this the peanut butter sandwich principle: It’s easier to make a peanut butter sandwich if you don’t have to grow and grind your own peanuts, grow your own wheat, and bake your own bread. Leveraging proven, tested, components that others have created can be faster than building them from scratch.
Just a few pages later, Weinman explains how Starbucks made its fortune as a service provider but saw that others wanted a different delivery model. So, they started packaging their product and selling it in stores. Similarly, you see many cloud computing vendors chasing “private” or “on-premises” options that offer an alternate delivery mechanism than the traditional hosted cloud service. To be sure, this is not a “cloud is awesome; use it for everything or you’re a dolt” sort of book. It’s a very practical analysis of the cloud domain that tries to prove where and how cloud computing should fit in your IT portfolio. Whether you are a cloud skeptic or convert, there will be something here that makes you think.
Overall, I was really impressed with the quality, content and delivery of the book’s message. If you’re a CEO, CFO, CIO, architect or anyone involved in re-thinking how your business delivers IT services, this is an exceptionally good book to read.