Many customers are navigating through what they describe as ‘the fog’ when it comes to balancing their IT budgets across where they were, where they are and where they need to be.It starts with managing “Technical Debt”; loosely described as the legacy IT infrastructure that a CIO inherits or accumulates over time. It’s viewed as being costly and cumbersome, but it isn’t going anywhere any time soon either. The investments that are being made in this environment are those that result in reducing costs, lowering debt and freeing up money that can be invested in critical green field opportunities.So the first order of business is to box in and target the spend envelope of tech debt. Check your arsenal and use the latest weapons of choice such as flash, virtualization, integrated appliances, deduplication, storage integrated protection and cloud tethering to name a few. These weapons not only help optimize the environment for cost and operational efficiency but they allow you to bridge toward and fund the modern data center.But you’re not completely out of the fog until you rationalize your process of where and how to place your bets going forward. Now more than ever, it is critical that these investments are spent in the right place since we are in an age of unprecedented business transformation. We’re bombarded with alternatives so it’s critical to get a plan and stick to it.An overused term is ‘Be the Uber’ or ‘Get Ubered’, so how do you go about making these decisions?Well here’s something that was shared with me recently that I thought had great promise and can be adapted to suit any use case. It all starts with the application, its use, its strategic value and how long that value will be harnessed…Applications that will last less than three years:These applications are being developed rapidly and often many at once. They could include apps for individual market segments, geographies or for specific time periods. The bottom line is that they are not expected to be running for long and therefore dedicated infrastructure isn’t cost prudent. For these applications, the cloud is ideal: fast development time, little to no infrastructure investment, easy to deploy, maintain and spin down when they have run their course. Think hybrid cloud.Applications that will last more than three years but not viewed as a cornerstone app:For applications lasting more than three years, customers want more control over the performance and reliability of the infrastructure. Still customers insist on agility and any infrastructure investments for these applications must be easily sourced, quickly deployed and simple to manage. Additionally, they should consist of reusable components that can be easily re-purposed if necessary. Think converged or hyper-converged infrastructures and software-defined data centers. Applications lasting more than seven years:These are big, strategic applications that shape how a company or perhaps how an entire industry will do business in the next decade. These applications will rely heavily on cloud operating systems to control large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout an owned and controlled data center to deliver predictable performance at huge scale.These buckets are not set in stone, but generally speaking, they are close enough to provide a framework for determining where to invest going forward. Everything facing C-level executives today including people, cost, security, analytics, agility and more can be tied back to balancing these bands. So the question is: who are the trusted, strategic business partners that you need to align with to ensure success? Which vendors can cover everything from managing your technical debt to building for the future? These are unprecedented times. Are you ready? Get out of the fog and see your future.