Monday, April 30, 2012

The Fear of Clouds

Lucy Van Pelt: Are you afraid of responsibility? If you are, then you have hypengyophobia. 
Charlie Brown: I don't think that's quite it. 
Lucy Van Pelt: How about cats? If you're afraid of cats, you have ailurophasia. 
Charlie Brown:Well, sort of, but I'm not sure. 
Lucy Van Pelt: Are you afraid of staircases? If you are, then you have climacaphobia. Maybe you have thalassophobia. This is fear of the ocean, or gephyrobia, which is the fear of crossing bridges. Or maybe you have Nephophobia. Do you think you have Nephophobia? 
Charlie Brown: What's Nephophobia? 
Lucy Van Pelt: The fear of clouds. 
Charlie Brown: THAT'S IT!

Cloud computing is a herald of fear for many IT professionals. But, if IT history is any indicator, the impact it will have on IT jobs is overstated. 

A Tale of Two Trends

Outsourcing: The IT fashion trend at the beginning of the century was outsourcing of IT operations. By outsourcing your IT operations to a strategic partner it would help companies focus on their "core competencies". Furthermore, outsourcing to a company like IBM Global Services would cut labor costs, training costs, and promised superior technical solutions because they could attract top IT talent.

While outsourcing companies were good at managing "day-to-day" operations they aren't experts at driving innovative strategic value for your company. Insourcing became more frequent as companies cancelled their contracts because of quality of service, lack of flexibility, and changes in business strategy. A Deloitte study shows that 48% of companies have terminated their outsourcing contracts.

Remember your colleagues saying that internal IT datacenters were "irrelevant" because they were all going to be outsourced? Have they become irrelevant?

Virtualization: When most organizations started down the path of server virtualization it presented a significant value proposition through server consolidation. One of the key issues we faced when we started down this road was that normal operating expenses consumed way too much of the annual budget. On average 60% of the IT budget was spent on keeping the lights on, 25% on regular migrations and upgrades, and that left 15% for innovation investments that could give the business a competitive edge. Server virtualization was implemented in datacenters to help reduce the expense of managing under-utilized physical servers, which would provide more capital for innovation. 

Several people in my department fretted over their job's disappearing because physical servers were going to be reduced in the datacenter.

Have those jobs disappeared?

Although management of the environment has been simplified, most organizations have experienced significant server growth. FTE ratios for supporting the environment have increased, but so have the number of virtual machines the team needs to support. We have had a 165% growth rate in servers over the past 6 years.

Let's look at a bullet list of the benefits of outsourcing and virtualization:
  • Companies can focus on "core competencies"
  • Reduced labor costs
  • Reduced hardware costs
  • Outsourcing firms have top IT talent
  • More investment on innovation
  • Datacenters would be irrelevant
Have you heard these same points about cloud computing? 

Cloud applications are transforming managed systems and create several opportunities for leading corporations. Scott Blanchard writes in Move to the Cloud that their company decided to migrate their CRM application to The business users were clamoring for a more user friendly and flexible system, while the IT department was concerned about losing internal control of the company's data. The problem was that any change to their internally hosted CRM system required countless hours of programming time by limited resources - resulting in six to nine months to complete the updates. And even after it was done, there were always refinements that would start the process all over again. 

Even though it was obvious they needed to make this transition, managing the change was not easy for them.

As IT leaders how do we address those concerns?

It starts with open and honest dialogue with your IT workforce. In order to have a candid conversation you need an abstract understanding of cloud computing and the impact it will have on your business. That doesn't require an intimate knowledge of product specific solutions, but a basic understanding of the terminology and the concepts. IT leaders must demonstrate technical competency and understanding. It will make your employees feel confident in the direction that is being set by management and inspire them to adapt to the change.

There is nothing more hazardous to a company then lack of confidence in leadership and their inability to move the organization forward. Especially when they feel that their livelihood is in jeopardy because of the change.

Traditional infrastructure silos of server, storage, and networking will collapse to provide alignment and cost transparency. Understanding internal IT cost is paramount for companies so they can make effective decisions when evaluating application on-boarding and deciding the best cloud solution to meet business requirements. The convergence of these changes is important for IT departments and will position them to have a business mindset. 

Help your colleagues face reality; the dynamics of work are going to change from the traditional support models we have operated with over the past 15 years. Even though these changes make people feel uncomfortable, it provides a tremendous amount of opportunity to grow in a new field that is unfolding before us.

Large companies will still have a sizable amount of infrastructure to support in the near future. From my perspective, we will recognize that work is not going away; it has just shifted to a new platform with different support models.

Exceptional leaders will inspire their people to see a better future with cloud computing and how they'll be a part of it.
News: Top vBlog 2016 Trending: DRS Advanced Settings