Sunday, 1 April 2012

Cloud is the answer!

So if cloud is the answer, what exactly is the question? That’s what a new study (which will be published in April) by Forrester Consulting on behalf of BMC has tried to find out. Now, obviously, I’ve been mixing with the wrong kind of people, but I thought the days when someone in IT said they worked in IT rather than naming the company that paid their salary had gone. I can remember when smart programmers could move from one well-paid job to the next and never worry about the name over the door as they went to work. They just knew about IT and their services were very much in demand. I thought those days were well behind us. I thought the CIO and CFO and everyone else on the board worked together to move an organization forward. But apparently that’s not the case.

It seems that there’s still very much an ‘us and them’ culture, where you’re either part of IT or not. There are plenty of companies out there struggling to get their IT aligned with business needs and opportunities. Suddenly I feel like I’m back in the early 1990s. But that’s kind of what this survey has found.

The report suggests that cloud computing is exacerbating the divide between the business and IT, suggesting: “CIOs are concerned that business leaders see cloud computing as a way to circumvent IT”. We’ve talked about cloud and Bring Your Own Devices in previous blogs, but it seems that some (many?) members of staff view IT’s need for security as a need for control and one that they’re fighting against rather than working with.

The truth is there are many sites using Microsoft products with only a few ITers who are very stretched in order to satisfy the requirements of a workforce that ranges in ability from the fairly IT-literate to barely able to use a mouse (the type of people who demand a keyboard for their iPad!). For those IT staff, saying ‘no’ to an idea can often be the easiest option in order to save time to do everything else that is required of them in a day.

So that’s what leads to results highlighted in this survey of “enterprise infrastructure executives and architects”, which “reveals increasing tension between business and IT stakeholders”. Rather than the cloud being an opportunity for IT to expand and take advantage of this new paradigm, the report spells out that “high expectations for speedy, low-cost implementation of new software systems in the cloud are putting unique pressures on IT departments within the enterprise”.

The bald facts are that nearly three quarters of high-level executives see the public cloud as a way of getting around IT, despite most acknowledging that it doesn’t provide adequate security controls – according to the report. As we all know only too well, iincreasing pressure is being placed on IT departments to reduce costs and complexity, yet at the same time implement fast, low-cost software systems onto the cloud.

81 percent of the 327 respondents see a cloud strategy as a high priority. Seemingly, 58 percent of respondnets are running mission-critical workloads on the public cloud, without a security policy – 36 percent claimed they had a security policy (and six percent seemingly didn’t answer that question!).

Quite sensibly, most respondents thought their IT departments should be responsible for ensuring public clouds met their company’s requirements for performance, security, and availability. Just over a third (37 percent) looked to hybrid clouds as the future. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) were realistic enough to believe  that it would be difficult to provide the same level of management across both public and private cloud services.

I guess, in many ways, IT liked the dark ages when computing was very much a black-box technology. End users asked for something and, in the fullness of time, they got it. Nowadays, there are plenty of people who can read the IT news on Google or wherever and see what can be done – and they’re wondering why their company isn’t doing it. For mainframe sites, the problem might be the skills shortage caused by too few staff who really understand the technology. For sites running other platforms, it’s so often the paucity of staff they have running their operations. It’s not that those guys aren’t keen to embrace the technology, they just haven’t got the time. But the CIO needs to look out because organizations could outsource their IT to the cloud and there would be no need for in-house expertise – no need for an IT department as such, just a few application champions spread around the departments. Now, I’m not suggesting IT professionals will be without jobs – those cloud providers are going to need staff. But life could very well be different. And we don’t want the future of IT to be driven by non-ITers, do we?

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