Note: This post was originally posted on my Archival Blog, Amy Wohl's Opinions on Cloud Computing and SaaS on July 19, 2011, but more properly belongs here.
My good friend and colleague Michael Salsburg of Unisys sent me a new blog of his and I can't resist sharing it with you. I can't link to it because it's not on a publically available site, so I'm just going to include it here.
It's mainly about the fact that moving to the cloud is less about technology and more about human barriers. I couldn't agree more.
Comments will be appreciated.
Stop Dave, I'm Afraid
Over the last week, Tom Mallon and I have visited a number of customers and prospects in the Asia Pacific region to discuss Unisys’ Secure Private Cloud. It has been both exhilirating and instructional on both sides of these discussions. We have engaged IT directors and CIOs in interesting discussions and we have been quite proud to discuss the depth of our SPC solution as well as the experiences we have accumulated over the last three years in creating and managing a cloudy environment. We are definitely providing thought leadership and bringing up ideas and suggestions that go far beyond what the customers and prospects have considered.
But trasforming portions of a datacenter into a cloudy environment is way more than technical in nature. As a matter of fact, the biggest hurdle has appeared to not be of a technical nature at all. Each CIO or IT manager expressed a very similar hurdle that they are facing. It’s essentially their stakeholder’s fear of automation and reluctance to lose control. Thus the title of this blog. Perhaps many of you remember this blog’s title as a portion of dialog in“2001 – A Space Odyssey”. I can’t say I understand all of the messages in the movie, but the theme of automation gone wrong is quite clear. Only when you hear HAL say “Stop Dave, I’m Afraid” do you realize that the fear of loss of control goes both ways.
A number of our SPC conversations touched on a concern about creating and managing the huge number of VM images for their developers because each developer would request their own customized VM. Developers were not comfortable with the standardization that goes hand-in-hand with automation. We explained that, when we first started automating in the ERL, we were in a simular situation. Provisioning was considered a custom request and required a minimum elapsed time of two weeks to be satisfied. Today, 95% of requests in the ERL are “standard” and, through automation, makes a VM available within 5 minutes.
This gave them courage. Other discussions were more general than addressing the customization issue. An IT director explained that he was calling their cloud initiative a “cloud architecture” since their stakeholders were very uncomfortable with centralizing control of their computing into a cloud that is shared by multiple business units. And so it went throughout the week.
I was reminded of a situation I found myself in a long time ago. I was architecting an automated admissions system for a college. The admissions officer had a box on her desk that was filled with 3x5 cards. She literally but her arms around the box and said that she could not possible work without it.
So, as we worry about which cloud technology is best for our customers and fixate on vendors that compete with SPC, we need to understand something that continues to be the maxim regarding datacenter transformation. The real competition to our solution is not technical. It’s inertia and an inability to articulate the value of overcoming this inertia in the eyes of the stakeholders..
Of course, automation is the inexorable trend in our industry.
Nevertheless, customers will not respond to the attitude that “resistance is futile.”