The Argument Against Cloud Computing

As a cloud computing evangelist there is nothing quite as frustrating, and challenging, as the outright rejection of anything related to data center consolidation, data center outsourcing, or use of shared, multi-tenant cloud-based resources.  How is it possible anybody in the late stages of 2010 can possibly deny a future of VDIs and virtual data centers?

Actually, it is fairly easy to understand.  IT managers are not graded on their ability to adopt the latest “flavor of the day” technology, or adherence to theoretical concepts that look really good in Powerpoint, but in reality are largely untested and still in the development phase.

Just as a company stands a 60% chance of failure if they suffer disaster without a recovery or continuity plan, moving the corporate cookies too quickly into a “concept” may be considered just as equally irresponsible to a board of directors, as the cost of failure and loss of data remains extremely high.

The Burden Carried by Thought Leaders and Early Adopters

Very few ideas or visions are successful if kept secret.  Major shifts in technology or business process (including organizational structure) require more than exposure to a few white papers, articles, or segments on the “Tech Hour” of a cable news station.

Even as simple and routine as email is today, during the 1980s it was not fully understood, mistrusted, and even mocked by users of “stable” communication systems such as Fax, TELEX, and land line telephones. in 2010 presidents of the world’s most powerful nations are cheerfully texting, emailing, and micro-blogging their way through the highest levels of global diplomacy.

It takes time, experience, tacit knowledge, and the trend your business, government, or social community is moving forward at a rate that will put you on the outside if the new technology or service is not adopted and implemented.

The question is, “how long will it take us to get to the point we need to accept outsourcing our information technology services and infrastructure, or face a higher risk of not being part of our professional or personal community?”

E-Mail first popped up in the late 1970s, and never really made it mainstream until around the year 2000.  Till then, when executives did use email, it was generally transcribed from written memos and types in by a secretary.  Until now, we have gradually started learning about cloud computing through use of social media, hosted public mail systems, and some limited SaaS applications. 

Perhaps at the point us evangelist types, as a community, are able to start clearly articulating the reality that cloud computing has already planted its seeds in nearly every Internet-enabled computer, smart phone, or smart devices life, the vision of cloud computing will still be far too abstract for most to understand. 

And this will subsequently reinforce the corporate and organizational mind’s natural desire to back off until others have developed the knowledge base and best-practices needed to bring their community to the point implementing and IT outsourcing strategy will be in their benefit, and not be a step in their undoing.

In fact, we need to train the IT community to be critical, to learn more about cloud computing, and question their role in the future of cloud computing.  How else can we expect the knowledge level to rise to the point IT managers will have confidence in this new service technology?

And You Thought is was About Competitive Advantage?

Yes, the cloud computing bandwagon is overflowing with snappy topics such as:

  • Infrastructure agility
  • Economies of scale
  • Enabling technology
  • Reduced provisioning cycles
  • Relief from capital expense
  • better disaster recovery
  • Capacity on demand
  • IT as a Service
  • Virtual everything
  • Publics, privates, and hybrids
  • Multi-resource variability
  • Pay as you go

Oh my, we will need a special lexicon just to wade through the new marketing language of the main goals of cloud computing, which in our humble opinion are:

  • Data center consolidation
  • Disaster recovery
  • IT as a Service
    Cloud computing itself will not make us better managers and companies.  Cloud computing will serve as a very powerful tool to let us more efficiently, more quickly, and more effectively meet our organizational goals.  Until we have he confidence cloud computing will serve that purpose, it is probably a fairly significant risk to jump on the great marketing data dazzling us on Powerpoint slides and power presentations.

We will Adopt Cloud Computing, or Something Like It

Now to recover my cloud computing evangelist enthusiasm.  I do deeply believe in the word – the word of cloud computing as a utility, as a component of broadband communications, as all of the bullets listed above.  it will take time, and I warmly accept the burden of responsibility to further codify the realities of cloud computing, the requirements we need to fulfill as an industry to break out of the “first mover phase,” and the need to establish a roadmap for companies to shift their IT operations to a/the cloud.  

Just as with email, it is just one of those things you know is going to happen.  We knew it in the early days of GRID computing, and we know it now.  Let’s focus our discussion on cloud computing to more of a “how” and “when” conversation, rather then a “wow” and “ain’t it cool.” conversation. 

Now as I dust off an circa 1980 set of slides discussing the value of messaging, and how it would support one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many forms of interactive and non-interactive communications, it is time for us to provide a similar Introduction to Cloud. 

Get the pulpit ready

About johnsavageau
Another telecom junkie who has been bouncing around the international communications community for most of the past 35 years.

6 Responses to The Argument Against Cloud Computing

  1. Giles Proctor says:

    Amen, brother.
    Do you think that IT managers will present a ‘rump’ against this innovation? Moving into the cloud makes sense from many perspectives. From the point of view of the typical IT manager, however, this is a scary development. They have become very powerful in the last twenty years, how easily will they yield this power?

    • johnsavageau says:

      I think when IT managers start to eventually (~3-5 years) find there is little to no software written for individual servers, and 90% of software is SaaS (for either private, public, or hybrid clouds), they will get the message! When investors and finance folk pick up on the economics of cloud, the IT managers will really need to work on their “not for us” elevator pitch.

  2. Chris Phillips says:

    Great points and very well written John. Did you dabble in journalism in university? 🙂

  3. John says:

    As an IT Manager, I am sick and tired of hearing how “The Cloud is the answer to everything”

    I have an unbiased opinion on the cloud itself; however I fail to understand how companies rush to put their data in the cloud without even considering the pro’s and con’s. – Both of a cloud and non cloud solution.

    Do your homework before you buy! This goes for all solutions, and services, and the Cloud should not be exempt from that rule.

    The Cloud may be an answer to some things, but it is not the answer to everything!

    • johnsavageau says:

      I appreciate your reluctance to jump on any bandwagon. However would also be very interested in hearing your ideas about what is a pro, and what is a con of cloud computing.

      Also, as an IT manager what would make or break your decision on whether to consider moving your infrastructure into an outsourced environment, whether simply colocation or cloud computing.

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