Cloud is of "No Relevance" say IT managers. Why?

I scan the internet quite often to look at what is being said about Cloud. The other day, I ran into a thought-provoking article titled “Cloud has ‘no relevance’ say three-quarters of IT managers.” A report published by risk consultancy Protiviti, who interviewed 100 UK IT managers, state that 74 percent thought that cloud computing had no relevance to their business.

 

Obviously at first glance, this is quite a surprise to someone who spends his time discussing cloud with customers, although I have to admit I ran into an interesting debate the other day, but I’ll talk about that in a minute.

 

The report says that companies most likely to be using cloud-related services are larger companies and companies operating in the services sector. This is actually counterintuitive and in straight contradiction with results of many other studies pointing to SMB as the main cloud adopters. Other publications, such as CRN, state exactly the opposite. Cloud Computing in midmarket, SMB sectors creates big opportunities sad Andrew Hickley about one year ago. Has something changes, or is the UK different?

 

So, why this discrepancy, and is cloud really irrelevant for IT? I believe the difficulty starts with the word “cloud” itself. So, let’s go back to basics and look at the NIST cloud definition: “Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

 

This definition actually covers two vastly different models:

  • Cloud as an evolution of the datacenter, where combining virtualization, automation, standardization and self-provisioning, users can get access to a series of services (formally known as applications) that are loosely coupled together through common data environments. Very often this results in the implementation of (hosted) private clouds.
  • Cloud as a new business model, in which users consume services from a variety of (external) sources without care of the underlying infrastructure. The pay-per-use model (actually mostly a misnomer) is essentially associated with this model. This is typically where public cloud services are consumed.

To paraphrase Phil Wainewright, “Cloud is Forked”, with little understanding of the “web scale cloud”.

 

So, why would IT find cloud irrelevant?

The first model is definitely relevant for IT professionals, but many will tell you they are on the way (translate this to they do virtualization mainly) and just see this as an evolution of what they have been doing for the last several years. So, they do not think of this work as moving to cloud.

 

The second one scares them. Not only because it could cost them their job all together (why do you still need an IT department?), but also because it makes management, security and compliance complex to operate. So many are in denial mode.  I talked to a head of infrastructure, blandly telling me they did not need cloud. Indeed, they were selling to businesses (read a retail channel), and there was little variability in the demand for computing power. Also, when additional capacity was required, as it took two years to get anything done in the company, sourcing IT capacity was definitely not the issue.

 

As many other IT people, he forgot however that increasingly IT literate business users bypass IT all together and consume such services from external sources. It’s interesting to see the astonishment of many IT professionals when talking about “Shadow IT.”

 

Most IT departments of larger enterprises are trying out cloud computing, either by experimenting with public cloud services such as Amazon Web Services, Google Apps, Microsoft Azure, or by implementing a small private cloud focused on the provision of development and test environments to the application developers in IT.  They are looking at gaining a clear understanding of what the implications are of migrating to a cloud model (seen for most as the first one). Some, under intense cost pressure from the business, have migrated e-mail and a couple other commoditized services to the cloud, often not realizing the implications (compliance, legal and others) of doing this.

 

However, in my experience, only a couple larger enterprises have gone further and understood the true potential of cloud to address new business needs, to provide new services to their customers and to increase responsiveness, agility and flexibility. I realize I’m throwing a lot at you here. Keep with me, over the next blog entries I will spend more time discussing each of those statements. They deserve it.

 

Transformation is coming

Actually, is cloud relevant to IT? Who cares? What is important is that IT is at the verge of a fundamental transformation that will affect all of us. As IT becomes increasingly relevant to the core of the business, its delivery, its management and its operations will transform drastically. Whether we call this cloud, IT-as–a-Service, Everything-as-a-Service or use any other word, it does not matter. What matters is that we need to prepare ourselves for the transformation to come.

 

So, I’m making a couple strong comments here, do you agree with me? Do you see this also in your business? Let’s start the dialogue.

 

Comments
Chris M Evans(anon) | ‎01-30-2012 05:50 AM

75% seeing no relevance for Cloud implies 25% who do see relevance.  These are the more thoughtful thinkers who clearly look ahead in their business.  I wonder how many of those 75% look at hotmail, google mail, salesforce etc and realise that they could be using cloud services already?

 

Any new technology has the hype factor to overcome.  I believe in any organisation there will be 25% who "get it" immediately, 25% who will never get it and stay doing what they did when they first entered the industry.  The other 50% are waverers who need convincing but likely will over time come to accept new technology.  Those actual percentages may vary, but I think we're getting past the hype factor now and moving into more mainstream adoption.  Forget the bottom 25%.  You will never convert them anyway, just focus on the 75% who will eventually get the concept and adopt.

Michael27(anon) | ‎02-02-2012 09:33 AM

I don't think SMB IT folks think of SaaS as part of cloud. ex: Does your company use an email service (ex:Hosted Exchange or gmail) - sure.  Are you looking at or using cloud computing - no

Lutz Bartsch(anon) | ‎02-12-2012 08:53 AM
It is true that many IT folks underestimate the relevance of #Cloud to their business. I see so many companies not being prepared to manage properly the SaaS offering selected by tgeir business. Either they try to play mad to stop it last minute or they play a we don't care it is not on our premise. The required transformation of IT to be a Service Broker (be it Cloud or on-premise components or both building the service) is a huge step for many IT organizations. But the CIO will be responsible for reliability, security and integration of the components supporting the busines as a service. More and or technologies and applications are just not available or feasable on-premise. CIO - get ready to be a Service Broker!
CV | ‎02-14-2012 11:07 PM

Just found an interesting blog entry titled "Over half the UK employees want to work in the cloud". Sounds like there is a little discrepancy in expectations here. Interesting.

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