'Garbage in, garbage out' -- with a 2012 twist

Many cloud implementations go awry because of the gunk that gets put into them. Here are the types of gunk ending up in clouds, resulting in dashed expectations.

GIGO -- or 'garbage in, garbage out' -- has been the programmer's mantra since the dawn of computing, with meaning that computers and systems are only as good as the information that is fed into them.

Taking that thought up a level, there has been no shortage of organizations that thought by buying and throwing in expensive new technology into their enterprises, they would suddenly become more agile and forward-thinking. That's certainly been one of the challenges with SOA, over the years, with many companies feeling disappointed when service orientation of their systems and applications did not turn them into super-competitors. They end up feeling hoodwinked by vendors, as well as their own IT departments.

It takes adroit, forwarding-looking management to make a company a world-class competitor and growth story -- nothing more, nothing less. Appropriate technologies and technology strategies are the tools employed by world-class business leaders.

Lately, Zapthink's Jason Bloomberg put a 2012 spin on GIGO, noting how cloud implementations go awry because of the gunk that gets put into them.  Here are the types of gunk ending up in clouds, resulting in dashed expectations:

Unclean data: "Pure GIGO," says Jason. Why not think of moving your data to the cloud "as though you were moving your elderly parents to a condo.," he relates. "It’s a wonderful excuse to finally dig through the layers of detritus so that you only move data that are clean, accurate, and valuable to the business."

Spaghetti code: The cloud won't automatically speed up or make an old custom-coded legacy app more scalable or easier to integrate, Jason warns. "Spaghetti code is every bit as intractable in the cloud as it is on-premise."

Obsolete and cloud-unfriendly business processes: Familiar territory for many IT managers, Jason says. Business may not want to change a process, but there's always opportunities for streamlining and better aligning these processes.

Zombie instances: This is new gunk clouds bring into enterprises. "It’s so easy and cheap now for anyone in your organization to spawn their own cloud instances, including virtual machines, storage instances, and more....  But what happens when you’re done with them?"

Data with no provenance: Outdated or corrupted data  "are worse than useless, since they may be incorrect, or even worse, keeping them around may violate any number of regulations. Here again the elasticity of the cloud works against you."

Manual or poorly abstracted configurations: If an admin in your IT shop goes in and changes a config file in a cloud instance, apps that depend on that instance will break, and the problem will take forever to figure out.

Cloud-unfriendly architecture choices: "Cloud Computing lends itself to particular ways of architecting applications, and attempting to shoehorn the wrong architectural approach into the Cloud is about as effective as Cinderella’s stepsisters’ efforts with the glass slipper."

What's the best remedy for avoiding the new wave of GIGO?  Enterprise architecture and governance, Jason says. "With great power comes great responsibility, and the cloud offers enormous new power to many different roles within the IT organization" Jason says. "The cloud is fraught with pitfalls. Without sufficient governance, you’re bound to fall in one...." Governance should be an integral part of any cloud strategy, before you move to the cloud."

(Illustration: Wikimedia Commons.)