Book Review: On Top of the Cloud
This book is not really about the cloud, but rather, the transition of the CIO role to being one of a transformational leader, and the role of the cloud in this. Therefore, this book is more about leadership and less about the cloud.
The author relies heavily on his previous book The Transformational CIO which I hadn't read. This wasn't an issue, as he substantially leverages that material in this book.
From the book's definition of transformational IT: "A transformational IT strategy is informed and guided by the understanding that IT should add value internally (through greater efficiency) and externally (through increased revenue)." So the book ponders the question of when we are going to stop referring to 'IT and the business'. This resonated with me as my personal philosophy is that we have to think about the business as a whole, IT is part of this, not a separate entity. I agree with the author's assertion that the CIO's role is not just about managing technology - but actually helping to manage the business.
From a cloud perspective, two chapters were useful. Chapter 9 - Pushing the Envelope, includes some useful definitions and some cloud architecture diagrams from IBM.
Chapter 10 – Entering the Cloud, provides some of checklists and due diligence questions to ask yourself if you're thinking about moving to the cloud. It also happens to be the last chapter of the book.
I believe for a CIO going into the cloud for the first time there are other, more useful reference materials out there. Reading the book, it seemed to me that the author had a lot of material from his previous book research which he has tried to incorporate here. This may be why the book is somewhat light on cloud content.
In my view, if someone is looking to enter the cloud for the first time, talking to a selection of suppliers and research groups will provide them with more current information about what is available, as well as white papers and research. Given the pace of change in this space, a reference book on the cloud will be out of date pretty quickly.
On Top of the Cloud: How CIOs Leverage New Technologies to Drive Change and Build Value Across the Enterprise, by Hunter Muller, is published by Wiley, $77.95.
Fiona Floyd is CIO, Suncorp Life, a company in the more advanced stages of cloud adoption.