Here comes cloud.
It's IT that's built differently, operated differently, and consumed differently.
If you control it, it's a private cloud.
It's a significantly better way to deliver IT services. Not a little better, a whole lot better. Enough evidence is there if you want it.
So much better that -- if you spend significant money on IT -- you're almost forced to pay attention.
The hard part? It uses different technology. It uses different processes. And it's based on an entirely different relationship with the business.
For the most part, it's not entirely compatible with what you're probably doing today.
Facing these inconvenient truths is turning out to be illuminating -- for just about everyone in the IT value chain. And dancing around the obvious -- or trying to dress things up so they look more familiar -- isn't really helping anyone.
Stating The Obvious
If you've heard me speak on the topic in the last year or so ("Journey To The Private Cloud"), I make no bones about the challenges associated with process change -- and the implications for skills, roles and organizational boundaries especially in larger IT organizations.
Of course, technology can always be better, but -- collectively -- the technologies have largely outstripped the ability of traditional IT organizations to consume it as it wants to be consumed.
However, we as technologists prefer to talk about topics we're very comfortable with -- like technology.
Talking seriously about uncomfortable things such as new roles, new responsibilities, process maturity, organizational resistance, the need for leadership vs. management -- well, many IT people weren't hired for their people skills :-)
Making It Painfully Obvious
I'm now north of 50, age-wise, and a few years back my doctor sat me down and had a very honest conversation with me.
"Chuck, you're getting older" he said. "You eat too much, and don't exercise enough. You're getting fat and slow as a result. Keep this up, and you won't live as long. Make some simple changes, and you'll live a long life". Easy to say, hard to do.
No nice words or gentle touch -- just the plain truth as it needed to be said. And, trust me, I took his advice to heart.
Simply put, I think we as vendors owe our customers the same transparency and honesty. Don't try and dress it up, don't try and make it pretty -- say what needs to be said.
I'm doing my best to live up to that standard, and I'm encouraging others at EMC (and, indirectly, VCE) to do the same thing. But it goes against our natural tendency.
We As Vendors Inherently Want To Please You
If you work for a vendor, you (usually) want to be liked by your customers. Sometimes this results in us collectively avoiding the *uncomfortable* discussions that need to be had. You, as customers, come up with hard, discerning questions, and our natural vendor tendency is to provide palatable answers that aren't unpleasant.
Sure, it works with anything you might have (maybe yes, maybe no) No, there are no process changes required (not). Our solution can do anything, because we're flexibly adaptable (if one buzzword doesn't work, try two!). Yes, we've got everything figured out (really!).
All in a naive and misguided attempt to please.
"Chuck, you're not getting that old" my doctor-vendor might say in an attempt to please. "It's OK to eat as much as you do, and you do need less exercise as you get older. Besides, it's accepted in our society to get bigger and slower as you age. Just buy bigger clothes. Who knows? You might beat the odds and live a long life."
That wouldn't really be doing me any favors, would it?
Reactions Are Uniform
Today was no exception.
I had my hour in front of a big-name senior IT leadership team. I told my story the same way I usually do.
Even the occasional stink-eye.
But a few people in the group fully understood what I was saying, and why I was doing it. They were smiling, nodding, and asking very probing and penetrating questions.
They came up to me afterwards, thanked me, and asked for copies of my slides. They quietly acknowledge the challenge in front of their IT organization, and realized the work to be done going forward. I thanked them in return -- I felt I had created a bit of unique value by having an open, honest and completely transparent conversation.
A Final Thought
Every so often, our IT industry goes through a big transition. This one is called "cloud". In my mind, the last one was called "internet". All of the sudden, organizations that were goaled and measured to be as stable and predictable as possible are now being called upon to make some big changes.
And speaking plainly about what's really going on is essential.