Imagine a man standing in the shallows of the beach, the ocean ahead. The wind is picking up, bringing higher and higher waves, all while the tide rushes in. But he stands firm, relenting to none of it. Is he Neo? Is he living inside “The Matrix”, about to put his hand out and place everything on pause, declaring “there is no ocean”? Not likely. What’s far more likely is that wave after wave after wave will wear him down. Perhaps not so much at first, but eventually he relents to one of two key outcomes: drown or save himself.
It sounds simple and obvious enough that the man would simply save himself. But you might be surprised. In fact, there are far too many who would take things way too far into the danger zone, if for no other reason than to prove a point or be a martyr to the cause.
This metaphor is EXACTLY what is happening each and every day in IT as organizations are faced with “The Cloud”. Everyone can see and feel the force, witness what the impact is, and yet stay put for far too long.
“Dying is Easy Young Man, Living is Harder”
In the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton, George Washington tells Alexander Hamilton, who seems to eager to become such a martyr, that…
[Please do go back and listen to the song – Right Hand Man. It’s amazing stuff! And it will likely inspire your IT security perspective a bit. And the show itself is…just WOW!]
The point being that there is work to be done, so if it’s not being done by our hero, then it’s going to have to be done by someone else. Like our man in the ocean, what seems easy at the moment, might be an illusion. False bravado and maintaining the current status quote is not the answer…for anyone. Those waves (in our world, the waves of clouds) are only going to keep coming in. Eventually, it becomes just to much. Well, too much for anyone not on board with things.
And simply declaring, as so many are fond of, that “we are not going to The Cloud”, is not in any way a life preserver. It’s the opposite. It’s an anchor around your feet. An anchor made of all the hardware appliances that you are clinging to. Their future is sunk and they simply don’t care if they take you down with them.
And we know this because…
“The Cloud” is NOT a destination!
In the early days, sure, the cloud was a destination. A playful, joyous, destination. Think about it: as a kid on a very first flight, would he/she be more into the idea of seeing wherever they were going to, or would the more intense focus be more on being able to fly up, through, around, and back down from the clouds? But with only a bit of maturity, the real answer is that the clouds are not themselves a destination. Rather, they are merely a natural product of our environment, always lurking above us. And of course, always coming our way.
In the context of something for the business to focus on, the ONLY thing that matters is getting the right value for the business. Indeed “The Cloud” is what we in IT talk about. The business just calls the ultimately lower cost services what they are: Office 365, Salesforce, Workday, Zscaler, Reciprocity…
So back to the waves metaphor. 🙂
In the ocean we call business, aren’t the waves also coming to us pretty much all the time? Yes, of course they are. And now playtime is over, even for those who entered so late that they never really got to “play” in the first place. So “The Cloud”, very much including security, absolutely isn’t a destination, right?
And we also know this because…
“The Cloud” is More Valuable
Fact: Cloud platforms, done right, are absolutely more valuable than their on premises counterparts.
In every case where I have seen anyone try to claim the opposite, there are two things that I know I can count on:
- Those claiming they did an analysis of the costs are never willing to share their well thought out financial findings…with anyone. Dare I say they got the numbers they were after and now just want to leave it with that?
- The Harvard Business Review paper entitled “IT Doesn’t Matter” makes it abundantly clear that commoditized solutions are absolutely more valuable when shared. So if a cloud platform is designed right, then it stands to reason that it will no doubt be less expensive overall. And certainly more valuable to the business, both on quantitative and qualitative grounds.
“Infrastructural technologies, in contrast, offer far more value when shared than when used in isolation.” – Harvard Business Review
If you haven’t read the paper, I would highly recommend it become required reading for the entire IT staff. Rest assured, it will open some eyes.
Undercurrents, The Winds of Change, and Neo!
The changes being brought about by all these waves are profound. Right now we are seeing CIOs and other senior roles not being taken by someone who came up through the IT ranks over decades, but rather the business leaders who already know their business is digital and can drive the right technology in support of their own vision and mission. That’s quite a change.
With these changes are undercurrents that are outright deadly to those who are not paying attention.
Keep fighting the waves too long, get worn down, then:
- Get pulled out by a sudden riptide, such as a new executive structure, the result being death to the position you once held.
- Actually lose to the guy or girl who comes in and says “there are no waves/clouds, only services”, then pulls back the covers to show you the world you truly live in. And now do you believe!?