The Stack Archive

Clarifying the mysteries of the cloud

Mon 1 Sep 2014

In this week’s featured blog Richard Morrell looks at the communication issues holding back cloud adoption.

The great thing about getting older and working in IT is that as you have seen so much evolution and change over twenty plus years, it furnishes you the ability to take a pan-industry visibility of what technologies actually impact us.

Back in the 90s with the onset of ethernet and local storage anything that would make your life easier that you could hang off a server made you sit up, even if it was a shared network fax modem. Even the excitement of the arrival of HP’s JetDirect technology heralded excitement. If you, like me were a sneaky bugger it meant you could hijack and ignore the established print queues and annoy fellow workers. By the turn of the century we had the concept of leased lines and ISDN lines meaning that email routing and basic internet access on corporate LANs extended our ability to communicate. Now with the fastest ever connectivity known to mankind deployable in our racks and cabinets we look to escape the bonds of our networks and move to the Cloud to consume funky agile elastic services. Or do we ?

What we know, and are capable of understanding as practitioners of basic IT services is that Cloud looks cool. Cloud enables us “to do cool stuff”, we have no issues believing the hype and the ever louder gospel of this brave new order from every IT journalist plying his trade. We do however have one big problem. Those vendors don’t know how to interact with us the IT enterprise cash with the purse strings.

The nature of who is buying what, and whether they are buying anything much at all then becomes another question. There is no doubt that we’re racking up to Amazon with credit cards to consume services, the revenue speaks for itself. However are we engaging with cloud provider partners and do those partners even offer relevant services we want to consume ?

The gulf between business as usual enterprise computing with the needs of the incumbent business, and the “elastic always on, pay for as much as you need, migrate to agile platforms” is simply not delivering what it intended.

I sat down and spoke to several major thought leaders in the enterprise arena for their thoughts. The responses ranged from “it’s still very new and unproven and doesn’t impact us” through to “I don’t think many companies in cloud know what it is they want to be”. Certainly there is a groundswell within major players now to embrace the needs of their developers to harness cloud compute capability and to think about how cloud enables us to change our enshrined beliefs when it comes to hardware acquisition and technology refresh. Do we need to have dedicated internal server capacity we don’t use 322 days a year ? Would it be easier to put that into a cloud ?

The one thing that did drop out of the conversations was that all of the major cloud vendors talk the talk and paint pretty pictures but none of them seem to know how to relate to actual business needs. That there needs to be a seed shift in the sales engagement model or the business relationships needed to drive a harmonic shift to cloud as usual as part of our technology platforms.

So for those in the cloud industry it’s time to communicate better, and certainly to understand the needs of SME and enterprise customers. Speak clearer. If you don’t there is the real opportunity cost of losing the patronage and custom of many enterprise customers.

The views expressed on this blog are Richard’s personal views and do not reflect or represent the views of his employer, Red Hat.


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