I haven’t figured the structure for presenting this yet. This post is like I’m thinking out loud through my keyboard.
Every day, there seems to be a new story on my various feeds about “the cloud”. Today is no different. Another day, another survey that tells us that X% of business users feel like they have to bypass IT because they are a hindrance to flexibility, or Y% of CIOs plan to deploy cloud applications this week/month/year. Cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud.
The hype is incredible. And the talking heads that are in podcasts, radio shows, quoted in press interviews are no help. Uneducated journalists are bringing in muppets who compare Flickr to a complex application in a complicated business environment. I love Flickr – but there’s little that I’ve seen in the business world that compares to it’s simplicity. And that lack of simplicity is not because of IT; it’s because the business requires features and integrations that do complicate things behind the scenes.
It’s clear that the business users have gotten hooked on the concept of consumerisation of IT. Feeling empowered, they’re now buying SaaS applications for themselves. App developers are buying PaaS and IaaS services for the solutions that they’re developing. And this is eating into the very reason for IT being around at all. We’ll all be gone soon, right? Not so fast, my friend!
Not everything will go to the public cloud. Concepts like industry/national regulations, the need for secrecy, the need to integrate various server applications, IT governance, and so on are going to hit home soon enough, and the hype will subside. Some stuff will hit the cloud. I can see the scenario where small branch offices use an integrated Office 365. I can see the scenario where a business uses an elastic presence on the net for web servers, scaling out/in with the seasons. And maybe a lot of people do want a non-customised CRM solution without buying the servers to run it on.
Interesting titbit: when you dig into the Google Apps numbers, the average deployment size is 10 seats. So much for all those huge corporations and government sites dumping file/SharePoint/Exchange servers and MS Office!
Let me qualify the “it won’t go public cloud” statement. Less stuff will move to the public cloud if IT responds to the requirements of the business. The end users (our customers) like the instant accessibility and flexibility of cloud computing. Giving them that sort of environment to work with in the form of a private cloud that is managed by the business will solve the requirements for instant use, flexibility, elasticity, regulatory compliance, security, and IT governance. But we cannot do things the same old way, where we lock down and say “no” way too often. The user is a customer. Whether you like it or not, they have changed the business relationship by finding a competitor for your services in the form of a public cloud. You have to win back their business. Showing your value, being solutions oriented, and treating them like a customer is the way forward.
Part of consumerisation of IT is empowering the user. I don’t know how ready we are for lots of these concepts, either skills, business or technology-wise. I think we’re getting there. For example, SCVMM 2012 can be the central part of the private cloud for underlying IaaS. It can deploy things like IIS, SQL, and applications (collectively forming a service) but I’ve rarely encountered an app developer who knows what their new service will require up front. Maybe the new ConfigMgr 2012 user centric software deployment can be combined with the likes of Server App-V? Maybe we need to be able to build VMM 2012 services on the fly, after the original VMs have been deployed? DPM needs to adopt the cloud model, much like is found with the various online backup solutions, empowering the end user (on a server) to pick and choose what they want to backup (and potentially be billed for it). And that’s just the technology. I think the whole service-centric treating-the-user-like-a-customer will be totally alien for those of us who have been BOFHs for the last 15 years, enjoying those moments when we can torture our L-users.
Long story short – the business is moving away from the traditional internal IT service provider. They’ve gone to the public cloud where there are legitimate issues for many applications. We can win back that business with a change of direction comprised of private cloud and service attitude. And that can give the business what they wanted originally and resolve some of those other issues.