A while ago I found a blog post titled, ”What is Hindering Cloud Computing Uptake?” written by Walter Bailey of CloudTweaks.com. I was interested to see what had he come up with to describe why the uptake remains low. Bailey states that cloud computing uptake remains low because people are not enthusiastic about moving their business into the cloud. Additionally, he adds five other possible reasons:
- IT functionalities (control, security and privacy)
- Infrastructure problems (systems are old and do not function well in cloud environment)
- Talent shortage
- Budget and cost implications
- Pooling of resources
His arguments reminded me of an experience I had a couple years ago. I was visiting the CIO of a large organization and told him about the importance of cloud computing to allow him to respond quickly to the needs of the business. He laughed, telling me it typically took the business two years to make their mind up, and so there was no reason for him to respond fast. Remaining polite, I did not argue. I was just asking me when he was made aware of the needs and whether the perception of the business people were similar. I also asked myself how much “shadow-IT” was being used. I bed there was a lot. I called his approach resistance to change. He will most probably close the limelight on traditional IT. Obviously I never heard back from that account.
The reasons identified above will play a role, but with the exception of the first, I don’t believe they are the main reasons. There is a key reason that is missing. Let me explain.
Earlier this week, I was talking to an account team. They were describing their customers’ IT objectives. On the operations front, one objective immediately caught my attention. They wanted to reduce the provisioning of a server from 30 to 60 days down to one day.
So, I asked the question, “Why it does it take between 30 and 60 days?” They diligently explained to me their process. First, the server needs to be installed in the datacenter. That is initiated by the server team, but performed by the facilities guys. So, a couple days are lost to get the approval and do the work. Then the cables have to be connected so the server can be made operational. That’s another couple days. Then, before the server is recognized in the environment, it needs to be entered in the asset management system. That roughly takes a week. You then need an IP address attached to the server; this requires the intervention of the networking team. And those guys have a heck of a lot of work these days, so count two weeks before it’s done, and then…By now you got the picture.
If we could calculate the actual amount of time spent working on the server, we would be well under 1 day, but by the nature of the organization and its processes, that one day turns into 30 to 60 days. 99% of the time the server is waiting. You know, that reminds me of my manufacturing days. Toyota and others have developed Kanban to address this. So, could they do the same? Not sure, as the issue here is the siloed structure of their organization.
Traditional IT organizations are focused on specific technologies. You have the server guys, the storage people, the network team, the database administrators, etc. Automation can help, but is often resisted because there is a feeling many operators will lose their jobs if processes are automated.
About a year ago, I ran a cloud discussion with a customer IT department, and it completely failed. It’s actually the only time this has happened to me, so it’s not readily forgettable. I should have known right from the moment the customer IT department presented themselves that I was set for failure. I had the responsible for small windows server, the one for large windows servers, the one for Linux servers, the one for NAS storage, the one for SAN storage, the responsible for firewalls, the head of security, the data center network guy, the WAN guy etc.
My presentation covered all aspects of cloud including security, compliance and risk management. As I always do, at the end of the presentation, I asked them if I had addressed their expectations. And a nearly unanimous answer came back: “You have only spent 5 minutes on my subject.”
Transform the IT organization
Cloud computing cuts across all these silos and requires collaboration between the different subject matter experts. Organizations have “anti-bodies” rejecting ideas and people that change the way things are done. It’s often called “resistance to change,” and is deeply ingrained in many teams. It’s often related to the fear of losing control—of having to transform.
Cloud Computing, as soon as you get beyond IaaS, is a game changer, so no wonder people are nervous. It forces IT professionals to transform their job. And that is often painful. Unfortunately, these days, change is the only constant and that applies for all of us, including IT professionals.
What makes it more complex though, is the fact IT needs to transition between two models—as IT departments will run their traditional and cloud environments in parallel for the forcible future. The teams focused on the legacy applications can continue operating the way they have been, while the teams delivering the new applications and services need to adapt to the new environment. So, IT organizations will have to combine two approaches, and that is complex and difficult.
If we agree that the hybrid cloud is the way to go—that IT becomes the strategic broker of services to the business—four key functional teams are required:
- A Cloud Platform team operating and managing the environment required to deliver to the business users, in a transparent way, internally developed services, as well as services sourced from external sources. This platform includes an integrated portal, a service catalog, as well as the environment required to deliver and intermediate/aggregate services, as I described in a previous blog entry.
- A service development team, developing the “core” services that the company decided need to be kept within the company.
- A sourcing team, focused on the sourcing and intermediation/aggregation of all “context” services the enterprise sources from external sources
- A services governance team, reviewing with the business the services that need to be provided, managing with them the service lifecycle and identifying the core and context services.
Build a unique user experience
Users want specific services, and if IT does not deliver them, the users will go around IT and find what they need. That’s what is called “shadow-IT.” The issue is that users do not always realize the implications of the choices they make. It’s up to IT to deliver to them the services they require through either developing or sourcing the appropriate services. The user is most often not interested in where the service comes from; he/she just want to use it. The easier this is done, the better. So, IT should build a unique portal through which the user can use all the services required to do his/her job. The complexity of accessing the service should be shielded from the end-user. This is precisely what we try to achieve with converged cloud, develop a unique user experience. Aggregation and intermediation of services from external sources should be transparent. The benefit for IT is that the sources can move without having to migrate users.
Yes, control, security, compliance (e.g. privacy) are inhibitors to the use of public cloud. But if we take cloud in its widest sense (both private and public), the biggest inhibitor of all, for enterprises, is the way the IT department is organized. Many CIOs realize a change is needed, but they have to battle against very strong resistance to change. The fact the traditional and cloud environments will have to live together for the forcible future makes their job more difficult. The most advanced understand this and act accordingly. They will have a bright future as they will be increasingly integrated with the business. Many are in a wait and see mode, and some just deny. Where are you on this journey? How are you addressing the integrated world of traditional and cloud environments?
Christian Verstraete is the Chief Technologist Cloud at HP and has over 30 years in the industry, working with customers all over the world, linking business and technology.
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