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Empower the Cloud

As various organisations continue their journey to the Cloud, I wonder how many will be truly successful and how many will simply Cloud-wash their existing IT. As vendors continue to wash their products and make them all fluffy and cloud-like, so I suspect will many end-user organisations. And in that, they will miss many of the benefits.

But what will guarantee a successful Cloud deployment? Well, if you start with infrastructure, you will probably seriously reduce your chances of a successful deployment. You have to start with the organisational culture, this is something that many pundits agree with but there is not a lot of real discussion about what culture needs to be in place.

I think fundamentally, Cloud is about empowerment; an empowered work-force will get the most out of Cloud and without an empowered organisation, Cloud will fail and dissipate on the old hierarchies.

Cloud empowers users to make decisions and more importantly make mistakes; fail early, fail often but fail cheaply. A huge investment does not need to be made in putting together an infrastructure to support an initiative; it can be quickly brought-up and then ripped-back down again without blame and significant cost. You can run innovative projects ‘lean’.

Cloud empowers IT to put in place standards which are not seen as restrictive as they become almost invisible to the users. A change in hardware should not necessitate a huge round of regression testing; hopefully we will get to the stage where a change in platform full-stop will not mean a massive amount of rework and regression.

Cloud should empower your IT teams to work cross-discipline and cross boundaries but if your teams are already siloed and not able to talk to each other, then ask yourself why? Are you so focussed on internal hierarchies and control that you are preventing this? You need to empower your teams to have peer-level conversations and decision-making ability.

Often when people talk about the tools required for Empowerment, they talk about ensuring that people have the right information to make good decisions; in many organisations, information is still hung onto; knowledge is power and many like to hoard power.

If your organisation already has a culture of knowledge sharing, then moving your knowledge infrastructure to Cloud is a logical step but if you have a culture of controlled ignorance, then the journey is going to be hard.

One Comment

  1. Chris Patterson says:

    Are you talking about the Cloud here or virtualization? I read cloud but most of your points apply to plain old virtualization which we have had for a while.

    Though on your point of empowerment, I think this touches on why cloud will fail to be the huge success everyone thinks it will be. People will be empowered to fail as you said, but in IT failure is rarely an option (where you can keep your job). At least I can’t say any of my work allowed for failure to be accepted. Programming, apps, SAP etc.. I have seen those fail with frequency, but not infrastructure (yet). Perhaps with it being cheaper, failure will become more acceptable?

    As well, the wrong people are empowered. IT is not a utility providing a single basic service (water, and even it’s delivery isn’t trivial), and has lots of moving parts (security, audit, standards, network, systems etc etc). I think it was here where it was posted where a couple of scientists took it upon themselves to do some processing in the cloud, won an award and then were fired. They felt empowered to take things they didn’t have the skill to do (properly) on their own and off they went. I am sure we will see more of these black projects happen and some with spectacular failure that will make the industry pause. It will just take one Fortune 500 employee to put the wrong thing in the cloud and have Anonymous or lulzsec make an example of them.

    I think the cloud is an interesting concept but it will failure to be the “game changer” everything thinks it will be. On the other hand, virtualization has delivered as expected. Control, complexity, skill, security and just a couple of the entry level barriers to seeing it be what everyone says it will be. IMHO. 🙂

    I think I took empowered in a different direction and when others go in that direction, there will need to be some control in place to mitigate those inherent risks.

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