I was on my way to see a customer in the northern part of Germany this week when my flight was delayed due to fog. It was actually the perfect setting as we were going to talk about cloud services.
This particular customer had decided to optimize his IT environment with a standardized internal solution stack that provides automation as well as virtualization. So far, so good. The question I wanted to raise, however, was – Is this the best solution stack for cloud services as well? Do you even need the same stack in the cloud? Do you really want to shift resources to scale your IT up and down in a cloud environment? In short, does technology really drive IT improvement?
My short answer is – no! Ultimately, cloud services are not a question of technology; they are a matter of business needs. Cloud services are about optimization, flexibility and competitiveness. As a result, the decision about what a business needs should not be left up to the IT department alone. Business units should have a say in the matter as well.
It’s only human nature that we stick to tried-and-trusted solutions. Thus, there is a tendency on the part of IT departments to pick known solutions from known vendors and to stick to proven processes and principles – an easy and successful approach in the past. Today, however, this approach has maneuvered us into a lack of flexibility, a lack of cost efficiency and – the major downside – a lack of innovation for business units and the entire company.
In contrast, cloud computing has become a commodity with a direct line to the end user. The danger that business units will bypass IT is greater than ever. It’s a situation that no business can tolerate.
So how can IT stay in the driver’s seat? My advice would be to embrace change. Honestly answer some tough questions like:
• Are we trapped in a closed eco system?
• Do we need to optimize the old technology stack? Or are its limitations already apparent?
• Do we really want to continue counting CPU’s, say, for licensing software?
• Would a hybrid solution provide a better fit for our business needs?
• Is the existing provider an adequate partner?
Coming back to the questions posed at the beginning, I would like you to ponder the following:
• Would you agree that cloud services are cost efficient due to the use of tightly integrated technology managed and shared by multiple customers?
• Would you agree that individualized IT services may be a nice luxury? However, in order to gain maximum benefit from the cloud, would you agree that it should be strictly standardized to the needs of business units or processes?
If your answer to the latter question is “yes”, you probably would agree that technology is not the most important factor when it comes to cloud services. Regardless of how you optimize your internal IT in terms of automation and virtualization, choose a cloud provider who is able to support you in bridging today and tomorrow. And make sure he is not simply integrating good old technologies while urging you to continue counting processors, spending money on pre-investments and calculating license costs.
Be bold! Seize the opportunity! Improve your IT and your approach to it as a matter of business, and not just technology. From a customer’s perspective, technology should be irrelevant when it comes to the cloud. All that counts are the results.