Watson said, "I see millions of stars."
Holmes asks, "And, what does that tell you?"
Watson replies, "Astronomically, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Theologically, it tells me that God is great and we are small and insignificant. Horologically, it tells me that it's about 3 AM. Meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you, Holmes?"
Holmes retorts, "Someone stole our tent."
Speaking to Bernard Golden makes you see ‘the tent is stolen, you cuckoo’ in almost the same way. You ask him about all the whirlwind changes and try to poke his kettle with some hot issues, expecting to get some mysterious concoction of esoteric gobbledygook or numbers or correlation ratios. But the author of Virtualization for Dummies, pours out only sheer common sense in response.
Nonetheless, as we often avoid realizing, such responses are also the actual answers.
It’s interesting when you see how this CEO of HyperStratus, uses Economics to explain some current questions around Cloud in his various articles. Having held senior executive positions in corporate IT, enterprise software, global consultancies, and venture capital firms, he is presently one of the best known-experts on the Cloud phenomenon. While it’s fun to read his well-rounded repartees to questions like ‘the fate of IT’, ‘White-collar IT workers’, ‘Vanilla-Cloud’, ‘Open Source Cloud advocacy’ etc in what he inks, it also draws out some moments of epiphany the way he presents that elusive word- Common Sense.
So, let’s have a taste of it here.
I will start with a very vital question to many, specially the way Nicholas Carr has argued about it in a compelling way. Would Cloud be the Angel of Death for IT departments, specially Blue-Collar IT people?
I don’t think it will have that kind of an impact. What can happen however is —dislocation. IT departments, for a good reason, will build skills around people and new areas. There will be a shift to IT as an application centre. And that would be good, won’t it? Isn’t that what the business was created for in the first place?
Anything that might be a pooper to the Cloud party?
Now what’s happening is that Cloud Computing concept has been well established, and as people start implementing it, they will design applications to take real advantages. It’s analogous to what happened with the Web, when dynamic websites came out after static ones. The barriers can be that just as people go forward, sorting out these issues will be important. It would be a shift in mindset from ‘we shouldn’t adopt it until someone else does it successfully’ to ‘now, let’s get on it and see how we can address these issues’.
So, whose prerogative it will be? Sorting out the issues? Vendors’ or CIOs’?
Of both -Vendors will need to address these issues in products, and users will have to figure out the implementation bits. How to integrate- has been the question in every kind of platform computing.
Integration as you rightly mentioned. What about heterogeneity?
I expect that people will have existing applications which can not be thrown away, example- an ERP suite. So how do they integrate it, and how on-premise and hosted parts are taken care of and how re-skilling is handled, would be important questions for sure. But while Cloud Computing makes the challenge more pressing, it does not cause that challenge. In fact, another interesting trend would be solutions and people who offer an integration piece.
What do you make of the Amazon Outage incident? A ship passing by in the night or a big dent on Cloud’s promise?
I don’t think it is going to affect either Amazon or Cloud’s fate in general. It was an unfortunate situation and definitely a shortcoming to be sorted out. But the momentum towards Cloud is really strong and will stay so. More so in developing economies like India. It will be a very fruitful trend here as I reckon.
Will Cloud trim a CIO’s challenges or add to the baggage?
One challenge for CIOs today is ‘how to expand’ and ‘how to aggressively expand’, since external competition is happening. Also, the way technology is changing; there are new pressures of re-skilling. People want Cloud Computing, but they are not sure of the application part. It’s kind of the same reaction we saw when Internet happened.
Taking a moment away from the Cloud space (or may be not exactly, thanks to SaaS), what do you think will be the future of big ERP suites in face of other alternatives that are emerging?
I think the challenges would be for companies to pull the trigger on SaaS, because yes, current ERP suites are extremely expensive investments, and SaaS gives you an option. So why not now? The question would be- Do I continue with these suites, or should I make a change? I think, sooner or later, the larger trend would be SaaS. For larger companies who buy the likes of the erstwhile ERP suites etc, standardized approaches can not be ruled away. For others, there may be a chance to explore customization and Value for Money.
‘IT as a competitive advantage is a straw man’ — does that stay true in today’s or tomorrow’s context too? Why it is that IT managers are relegated to titles like plumbers and firemen often?
Our prescription to CIOs is use your infrastructure better by leveraging Cloud Computing. To the extent that CIOs remain focused on plumbing, it will make it harder to link IT to business alignment. To the extent you can give out to more efficient options, shift investments and do what enables your business better, IT will stay very significant.