We know that IT in the cloud means change.
It’s deployed differently, operated differently and consumed differently. What’s implied but not always said is that it must be thought about differently too.
Like democracy, monarchy, communism or capitalism, cloud calls up a frame of reference. It sets expectations for individual behavior, organizational structures, decision making and point of view. (We could call it “cloudism” but I’ve just discovered that’s a religion. Yeah. Really.)
The cloud frame of reference isn’t confined to IT.
A recent article in the Boston Globe entitled The Leased Life prompted me to think how cloud IT relates to a broader trend. The article asserts that people own more stuff than they really want. Businesses too.
“The essential insight is that in many purchases, we don’t want the thing per se - we want what it can do for us. You don’t crave a lawn mower, you want shorter grass; the desire is not for a refrigerator but for cold, unspoiled milk.”
A construct that deals with this is called the “product service system.” While it isn’t new – rental cars, gym membership, Netflix – it is being applied in some new ways. For example, there are new websites that help you locate someone in the neighborhood with a power drill or a wheelbarrow you can rent for the day.
This also relates to sustainability. If we each own less stuff. We'll consume less resource individually. More to go around on a global basis and less impact on the environment. In theory.
At some level, it makes sense to think of the IT cloud as a response to not wanting to own things. Of course there are some very good business drivers as well. It’s a quest for better economics, higher value, greater flexibility, speed of purpose and more.
All good stuff.
But. There’s always a but.
“ But the biggest challenge may be cultural. Americans are accustomed to having many possessions - it is a sign of status and identity…”
To do this cloud thing successfully, we need to change the way we think. And, as John Kenneth Galbraith said:
“ Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.”
I have no doubt that we will work our way through it. As we succeed in resolving technical issues, as we move from proof of concept to production at scale, we will get serious about the organizational changes, the new job titles, the new psychology, the transition from physical to virtual as the new frame of reference on a massive scale.
No more hugging the server before you go home.
In earlier posts I have pointed at the videos our own EMC IT team has been publishing to highlight their journey to the private cloud.
We are drinking our own champagne.
And while we haven’t resolved all the issues, we’ve identified many. And we're working hard at adapting to the changes required.
That’s why we call it a journey.