Dissenting Opinion | Why Cloud Computing is a Distraction

First of all, I'm not a 20 or 30 something - so there are going to be lots of things that I don't get. Like why putting all your personal information on Facebook and Twitter is such a good thing. That having 5M "friends" on Twitter is impressive. Or why Angry Birds is so popular. [or why a tablet is so much better than a regular computer/laptop].

So, when I say that Cloud Computer [and all it's variations and as a Service terms] is just a distraction for CIOs - there's probably something I'm not getting. But here's my reasoning...

  1. The paradigm shift is about services - not technology. Cloud Computing is obscuring that fact. CIOs need to be thinking about how to "manage and integrate" services - and stop thinking about how to manage and integrate technology. Because the darlings of the "cloud" world are mostly technology plays [like compute and storage].
  2. Cloud is about a shift in risk because the "cost of IT" is basically a zero sum game. Regardless of who pays for what - the full market for IT balances to Zero. Who bears the risk of the consumption model? Is it the service provider or the customer? For cloud - it's the service providers and they are usually hedging their bets and are over subscribed - just like that airline flight overbooking seats for the most popular routes. There have been recent headlines about "cloud" providers going down or losing service. That's going to happen - with the cost model only works for the service provider if they over subscribe for capacity. If they bet wrong - then systems go down.
  3. CIOs have to figure out how to "get their own house in order" before being forced by business units to provide a certain service from a certain vendor. Sure it sounds like a really good idea for the EVP of Sales to go out and buy Salesforce.com for the 200 person sales department - but who actually has to support those 200 "users"? Not the EVP of Sales - it's the CIO. But that's just one example of hundreds - how about the Shipping department or Account department or Marketing department - there are "cloud" services for all of them. The functional business units need to work with the CIO - because if they don't - then the chaos just gets worse.
  4. Finally - CIOs have to figure out how to "market" themselves better. Go out and find a professional Product Marketing person to help "package" services. The reason the EVP of Sales purchased Salesforce.com without your input - was because you've been distracted about keeping the lights on. Caught up in your world of operations and technology. Start to package your services, create user directed "messages" to users, directly sell to them - quit being passive - your career depends it.
  5. Well - I don't think Cloud Computing is the answer or the problem. It's just another way for technology people to not have to really deal with their lack of understanding. Users want their lives to be easier - they don't care how it's "delivered" or where information is stored. Most don't understand the what a ritualized server and storage infrastructure looks like - nor do they care.

So CIOs - quit with the technology and start with the services. Sit down and listen, figure out what your users really want - then figure out how to "integrate" all these new and cool technologies and services to make it happen.


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