In my previous blog post I looked at two possible options for implementing enterprise cloud applications or services—pure outsourcing or sourcing from a cloud provider with in-house management. In this post, I want to look at a couple of options for those intrepid organizations that want to take their cloud strategy above and beyond.

Option 3: Buying a custom cloud solution
To tap the full potential of the cloud to transform your business, an “off the shelf” solution may not be sufficient. Purchasing a customized cloud solution offers the flexibility to meet the specific needs of your application or business model. And it gives you the ability to select best-of-breed technologies with the advantage of support from a technology partner. Because it’s tailored to your strategy, you are only paying for the capabilities you need.

So what’s the downside? In a word, time. It takes time to develop a custom cloud solution, so if time to market is strategic priority, this could be an issue. And if you do encounter any problems, diagnosing and fixing them could be difficult and time-consuming, depending on the complexity of your custom solution, with its various technology elements and vendors. And that could translate into extended downtime—not a positive attribute.

That said, a custom-tailored cloud solution may make sense for those businesses looking to leapfrog their competition’s cloud services. However, making sure you have a solid availability strategy is crucial to ensure your cloud services are there for your customers when they need them.

Option 4: Create your own cloud solution
Is technology at the core of your business? Is the cloud at the heart of your service delivery model? Or are you looking to create a pilot or proof-of-concept program around a next-generation cloud app? For these situations, building your own cloud could be the way to go. Clearly, this path offers maximum control and flexibility, enabling you to avoid getting “locked in” to any particular technology while building your own technology road map.

This path is most likely to be taken by the most innovative enterprises looking to pioneer new ways of doing business in the cloud. Because agility is crucial to their strategy, it’s only natural that many of these teams will gravitate toward open source cloud technologies that maximize their flexibility and minimize their fee relationships. Fortunately, the open source cloud ecosystem is maturing quickly. That’s good news for enterprises seeking to create the innovative, highly available cloud services that are redefining business models in a variety of industries.

Which path is right for you?
When considering your cloud strategy options, remember that it’s not really a question of infrastructure—it’s all about the applications. Your application strategy will drive your cloud decisions.

So what applications do you plan to deploy in the cloud and why? Are you looking to make cloud services a cornerstone of your business strategy and model, or just take an incremental step in that direction? Is time-to-market critically important? How much application flexibility do you need? And what are the availability requirements of the applications you plan to deploy in the cloud? The answers to these questions will help you zero in on the right approach—or the right combination of approaches.

No matter what path you take, be aware of the hazards of vendor lock-in. Avoid technology decisions that limit your options. Leveraging open-source technologies and leading-edge software-defined solutions for cloud application availability and orchestration will maximize your flexibility in a rapidly evolving cloud landscape.