Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Maybe the Cloud IS useful after all...

This article helped the penny drop for me regarding the Cloud. Sure I've read the Azure brochures and seen the LotusLive demos and talked to the assorted Googlers but until now I've never felt comfortable recommending the product to my customers. The fascinating fact is that this article has nothing to do with the Cloud - it's all about the 'fallacy' of running IT as a business.

I'll let you read the article at your leisure but I'll sum it up by saying that it recommends that IT is best seen as a fellow Business Unit within an organization rather than simply as a supplier of charge-back services. One example is the difficulty of 'selling' the company standard laptop to a business unit for $800 when they can get an equivalent-spec laptop from the local YumCha computer shop website for one third the price. Sure you can talk of the benefits of a common hardware platform and the need to implement a standard anti-virus and security model through the company but that don't mean nuttin' to the non-IT manager who thinks you're ripping him off. On the other hand, we all put up with a deluge of personally inconvenient requirements from those pen-pushers in HR or Finance because we see them as essential to the operation of the business. See the difference? If IT is considered a separate business then it will be measured against all of the other separate businesses and must lose the inevitable Price/Benefit war as well as having its wetware off-shored to where-ever is cheapest. However if IT is seen as an internal facilitator who assists in achieving the corporate organizational goals, then the dollars become less relevant.

So what does this have to do with the Cloud?

I must admit that I've been seeing the Cloud as the thin edge of an outsourcing wedge which would lead to the dumbing down of IT as it was forced to abandon user requirements to meet the packaged services provided by the vendors. However if your IT department is a Business PARTNER with the other units of the company, then it can pick and choose what aspects of the Cloud work best for the organizational IT strategy rather than the only issue being that its internal chargeback costs are more expensive than the Cloud environment.

I still believe there will be Blood on the Floor when the Cloud hits its first major security breach, but perhaps moving away from the 'IT as a Cost Center' mindset will make the Cloud a more attractive proposition.


Gareth Howell said...

Interesting view Graham.
You might be interested in my rather rambling response.

Graham Dodge said...

'Damascine moment' ???

I guess it was.