The NFL Draft is a lot like cloud computing. Sure, the draft features men who are often the same size – and share the same tailor as – your average living room couch, but otherwise the two have much in common.

Both are the subject of endless amounts of hype. Both are full of buzzwords. (Paradigms! Burst! Tight hips!)

But, both, if done right, will radically transform your business for years to come, whether it’s in the business of cloud or the business of collisions.

They also both require careful strategy and architecture. Which got us thinking. What would a cloud strategy draft look like?

So we put on our Cloud GM hat and went to work.

How should you build your cloud strategy? Here are the first seven draft picks you need to make.

Read on. And yes, Jets fans, we hear you booing.


With the first pick in the Cloud Strategy Draft, we select …

Round 1: Data Governance

In the NFL, there are those who have a quarterback, those who don’t, and worse yet, the Cleveland Browns. Why are quarterbacks so valuable? Because they execute your game plan and influence every snap your offense takes. When you’re on offense, they give access to the ball to those who should have it when they need it, deny those who shouldn’t and execute your overall management strategy while being stalked by threats who weigh as much as an upright piano. With a successful data governance plan, you’re executing your strategy to give access to those who need it, deny those who don’t and let an agent on the field decide what is best for the greater good. After all, data is the reason we have IT. Without the ball, you can’t score. Without the ability to access and manipulate data, you gain no benefit from IT. Establish a data governance strategy and make it the center of your IT culture.

After all, there are those who have strategy, those who don’t, and worse yet, the Cleveland Browns.

Round 2: Cyber Security

Ignore the hype of the diva wide receiver and the sexy marketing slicks of the hypervisors and virtual machines for a moment. NFL teams win from the lines out – ask MVP Cam Newton how he felt about picking all of Central Park’s worth of sod out of his helmet as Denver whizzed by his overmatched right tackle in the championship game. Cloud strategies only succeed if you build a line that protects your most valuable resources and keeps threats – inside and out – at bay. Build your cyber security strategy and tools early and protect your most valuable asset, your data.

Round 3: Availability

In IT, like the NFL, failures happen. Disasters, both man-made and natural occur. Some are small. Some are JaMarcus Russell-sized. Whichever they are, your IT must be resilient. To increase fault tolerance, deploy across multiple zones (isolated areas within regions, which are geographic areas). Build in redundancy. Check your service level agreements. Ensure there are policies for failover to other zones or regions. A major advantage of the cloud is its scalability. Use it to ensure your IT doesn’t have a single point of failure.

Round 4: Hybrid Monitoring

Whether you’re in the cloud – or, possibly across multiple types of clouds – or on-premises, you need to know how your applications and infrastructure are operating to ensure you’re getting maximum performance. With your next pick, deploy a single-pane-of-glass hybrid monitoring solution so you can keep tabs on your IT. Be sure systems aren’t duplicated between clouds. Mitigate any issues in your technology before they become threats to your mission. Think of it as your middle linebacker or your center, always keeping tabs on formations.

Round 5: Cost Evaluation

The cloud can be a model of efficiency, but efficiency doesn’t automatically happen without a smart evaluation of your short- and long-term goals. And certain migrations, say a large 500PB Hadoop lake, might not make sense due to the prohibitively high cost of moving it at any point in the future. In the salary-capped NFL, you must spread out around your player expenses and maximize a mostly inflexible budget. Getting value picks late in the draft, with four cost controlled years, can make all the difference between strength all around and only a few high performing assets. Apply the same philosophy in the cloud. Understand your cost limits and maximize the impact of spend with all your picks.

Round 6: Federated Identity Management

Your move to the cloud will extend your enterprise perimeter. To maximize performance, cost savings and scalability, you will likely institute a multiple cloud solution. You don’t want to force your users to enter login credentials every time they move from your timekeeping system to travel and back. With your sixth pick, identify a federated identity management solution, so when your users move between your clouds, their authentication and attributes do too. This is particularly useful if an eccentric billionaire moves your cloud enterprise from, say, St. Louis to Los Angeles.

Round 7: Support

With the final pick in the cloud strategy draft, select a provider with the appropriate amount of support for your requirements. Think of them as your special teams ace. You won’t need them every day, but when they’re needed to perform, they could be the difference between winning and scrawling Laces Out Dan on your office walls. Some providers only have support availability during business hours. Some will offer additional development support. Select the right team to support your mission.

Of course, your cloud strategy will evolve after the draft. You’ll add more applications, analytics, new data sets, better visualization. Just like the football draft, the cloud draft will give you the best foundation to succeed, but your team and your cloud must constantly be monitored and adjusted relative to market conditions.

At NJVC, we provide mission-focused cloud support so we can serve as your IT GM while you focus on growing your business. We’ll get you to the cloud smarter and extract maximum value out of your migration. We'll manage and continually improve your enterprise and help you sort the benefits of the cloud from the fog of hype.

Remember, in cloud, just like the NFL, the difference between winning teams and losing teams isn't opportunity. It's the right strategy.

And then, of course, there's the Browns.

Ray Holloman is NJVC's Marketing Director. CJ Johnson is a senior solutions architect at NJVC and would like to point out that the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs is underway and the more important draft is actually June 24