Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blah Blah Blah Cloud - BY ROGER STRUKHOFF

Blah Blah Blah Cloud — There are many reasons to move toward cloud computing in one of its forms. In fact, with so many current forms, it's difficult not to move toward cloud computing in some manner. It's easy enough to become cynical about, and even resistant to, all cloud computing pitches and conversations, now that all vendors are defining the cloud on their own terms. Cloud computing conversations have turned into a version of the old Gary Larson cartoon about what your dog hears when you yell at it: Blah blah blah cloud blah blah cloud. Serious Stuff There are very serious enterprise IT issues involved with cloud computing. I've read some great articles by Lori MacVittie, David Linthicum, Ray DePena, Marc Farley, a bunch of guys in France, and so many others that explain in far more technical detail than I can about the challenges organizations face in any move toward the cloud. Underlying all of these discussions is the idea that the move toward the cloud should happen. Challenges are not problems, obstacles are not barriers, difficulties are not showstoppers. In this spirit, organizations should not focus on any single aspect of a move toward cloud, especially any notion that says it's a money saver. Cloud can be an upfront cash saver, to be sure, by moving large capital expenses into more manageable monthly operating expenses. Over the long haul with cloud, a company may find itself spending more on IT than it had previously, but with a tradeoff of higher productivity and the improved bottom line that should accompany it. Cars are more expensive than horses, too – and trains and planes more expensive than cars. Self-serving vendor pitches are part of the deal, and any IT person worth his or her salt should enjoy tormenting vendors with their tough questions, not resent that they must ask them. Make them define what they mean by scalability, let alone software terms like “flexibility” and “agility.” Find out who has already succeeded doing something similar to what you want to do, or engage them to develop something jointly so they have skin in the game, rather than just invoices in the pipeline. Blah blah blah cloud is not nearly as funny as the original Gary Larson cartoon. Enterprise IT is serious business, cloud is serious business, and there's nothing wrong with making your vendors suffer along with you as you move toward the cloud. Beside that, the future of your nation depends on it. What Was That? You may wonder: When did some virtualization or setting up an offsite PaaS testing platform become tied to the future of the nation? In my view, the underlying question has been with us since computers first came into US in the 1940s – only the terminology has changed. First, a little background on why I think it's so critical for enterprise IT to take this so seriously... It Won't Work Here Industrial policy is not a popular notion in the US, by either major party. The US and its economy are seen as simply too big and too diverse to “play favorites” the way that smaller places such as Israel and South Korea can, or the way the Communist dictators in China are able. So I know that my idea of massive, special tax credits for cloud computing would go nowhere in Congress, even if somehow a single Member of Congress thought it a good idea. Yet President Obama doesn't either doesn't understand or accept the need for bold action on the US economy. He's proven to be quite bold in his military policy, but somehow gets quite timid and conventional when the focus returns to the US. His potential Republican opponents offer their usual, tired panaceas as well, with the exception of Herman Cain's “9-9-9” plan. It would be refreshing to hear what a simulated runthrough of this idea would produce. But real change in the economy is not going to be triggered in Washington. It's going to be triggered by idealistic IT buyers who see they're in a mirror image of the prisoner's dilemma. In this case, if everyone makes the bold, brave move (analogous to staying quiet in the classic prisoner's dilemma), then results can be measured against the same (or similar) initiatives throughout various industries. One thing I'll guarantee: productivity will rise in the nation overall, and this is what will lift the economy out of its doldrums. Let's Get To It Sure, the United States must train its workforce for this century and make its education system look more like that of results-oriented Germany. It must somehow survive a long period of “deleveraging” as people pay off their current credit cards, even as new cards are more difficult to acquire. It must simultaneously survive the ongoing housing-price crisis that will not end for many more years. It must reform immigration in a way that keeps it from turning into Japan – where unyielding anti-foreigner bias has put the country on a seemingly irreversible course of population and economic decline. But mostly, it must figure out a way to improve productivity, that great Delta Force that has driven America's economic engine for more than a century. It behooves you to look beyond the “blah blah blah” of cloud computing and do everything you can to implement it in your organization. If your management won't listen to you, tell them to give me a call or shoot off a message to me on Twitter. Follow me on Twitter

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