A while ago we put out a survey that asked the following question:
"Are you getting the agility you expect from your Cloud?"
By the way, in case you haven't answered the survey yet - please click here and do so, and spread the word to your colleagues.
The survey turnout so far has been much lower than I had anticipated, but in spite of that, here are some results as we approach the half-way point of the survey period. I find this interesting, mainly because agility is such an elusive and often nebulous concept. I admit that my main motive for setting up the survey was to see your responses to the prove it portion..
Let's take a look at how this survey is breaking out so far:
- Has your organization taken advantage of cloud services? (Yes: 66%)
A full 66% of you answered that your organization is taking advantage of cloud services, which is really not that surprising. Oddly, the responses I often get from many of the folks I talk to about cloud computing from the Information Security circles is a reactionary "heck no!" push-back... so this 3:1 ratio should be sobering. Granted, the numbers aren't huge on the survey response (yet?) so this isn't necessarily a full statistical sample, I admit that, but it's a great way to put the finger in the air and figure out which way the wind is blowing. Let's be serious though - if two-thirds of you out there are using some variation of cloud computing services it would be nice to know whether that service is benefiting you in some way, right?
- If yes, have you gained business agility as a result? (Yes: 72%)
The answer here is impressive. A full 72% of respondents feel that they're gaining business agility as a result of using cloud computing services which I'm thrilled to see. What is business agility exactly? The notion of business agility is not an IT-centric thing, but rather based on the organization's ability to react quickly to changing business needs. Reacting quickly could mean deploying new applications, or being able to launch new products/services quickly. While the concept of agility isn't IT-centric, it does have dependence on Information Technology groups to deliver technology at the right time, with the right capability, and often quickly. The problem with traditional IT is that it takes months to deliver an environment (servers, applications, configurations) to meet a business demand that is right now, so something like being able to beat a competitor to market can be a struggle. This lack of agility and rigidity makes shadow IT so prevalent in today's enterprise environments... generally driven by business people who can't sit and wait. It's one thing to say that you're getting agility, but another thing entirely to feel confident enough in your answer to prove it, which leads us into the next question.
- If yes, are you ready to prove it? (Yes: 52%)
How telling is it that while nearly three-fourths of respondents feel they're getting business agility (as defined above), barely over half feel like they can prove it? Lack of evidence can be damning, and I can tell you as you read this that if you can't prove it, you probably can't claim it in a business environment. So could it be that only roughly half of you are actually getting some sort of business agility? Or is the problem a lack of evidence collection, or capability? I think this question requires deeper analysis and more questions. How would you measure business agility, or an increase of it? How can you directly attribute it to a use of cloud computing services, rather than something else happening in your enterprise? If you've got a reasonable answer to any of this, or a thought on the difference between questions 2 and 3, I'd love to see it in the comments. I'm going to think on this a bit more, and post another survey and a few more blog posts to try and figure this out...
- What evidence do you have to support your answers?
Only 10 of the survey respondents were brave enough to answer this question ... but perhaps this is telling in and of itself. The responses were good, so I think that the folks who replied are confident in their answers - maybe there is a lesson here? Here are some of the responses to the question of evidence, in no particular order...
- Increased change rates, decreased failure changes.
- Decreased project completion time. Increased project satisfaction rates.
- I spent 10 hours a week maintaining the old solution. I spend less than 2 hours a week now.
- We do it every day. We can go from idea to proof of concept to implementation in a matter of days if we need to.
- Limited physical footprint. Flip of a switch deployment.
- What got our company started was a theoretical product that would not even have been attempted without cloud.
- We cut our security spending, we can deploy useless features much quicker and when our users complain we can blame the provider
The responses are telling. More business-requested changes, faster, with less failure.
If you can get that with a cost savings and decreased amount of time you spend maintaining IT infrastructure and increased amount of time focused on innovating ... I think I could count that as a win.
Look for more on this topic in the coming weeks, months - I think this is something we're going to be talking a lot about.