Do IT Leaders (and CEOs) Have Their Heads Stuck In The Cloud?

by drjim on October 28, 2010

Some IT Leaders Think That They Know How To Reach The Cloud, But Do They Really?

Some IT Leaders Think That They Know How To Reach The Cloud, But Do They Really?

Ok, enough of this cloud stuff already! The field of IT is just like every other field out there and we have our own share of trendy topics – cloud computing sure seems to the one that we’re dealing with right now. With all of the magazine articles on clouds and conferences going on, you’d think that every IT Leader and CEO has a good understanding of just exactly what a cloud is. Well, you’d be wrong…

Everybody Thinks That Clouds Are Important

In order to be a successful IT Leader, you’re going to have to have the support of your firm’s Senior Management. I guess one good thing is that it’s become clear that firm’s senior management have been reading the headlines and actually recognize the term “cloud computing”. Mark McDonald over at Gartner has been asking around to find out just how deep this knowledge goes.

Back in 2009 (was it really that long ago?) only about 5% of a firm’s senior management recognized the term. That’s popped up to 37% these days (remember that not everyone works in IT!)

To take this one step further, they also appear to know that cloud computing is important. Those senior managers now list cloud computing as being one of their top 5 IT priorities.

One Out Of Three Isn’t Bad, Is It?

Good IT Leaders understand that in the field of IT, there is no such thing as just one magical technology. Instead, solutions to difficult business challenges are built using multiple IT technologies that all have to work together.

The same level of understanding about how the world of IT works is not shared by the rest of most firm’s senior management. Mark McDonald’s research shows that too little is fully understood about how cloud computing really works.
Clouds are built using three separate pieces of IT technology:

 

  • Server Virtualization

 

 

  • Service Orientated Architecture (SOA)

 

 

  • Software as a Service (SaaS)

 

In order to implement a cloud solution, firms need to adopt all three technologies. However, this point has not yet sunk in with most non-IT senior management.

Gartner’s research shows that most executives have very little interest in any of these technologies despite their belief that cloud computing is the way for their IT departments to go. Furthermore, roughly half of the executives surveyed believed that virtualization alone was the same thing as cloud computing.

What’s Next For Clouds?

Well, at least they all know that cloud computing exists and that’s got to be a good thing, right? Actually, no. Studies of new and emerging IT technologies have shown that they all seem to follow a predictable path.

Right now, most members of your firm’s senior management team are probably quite excited about the potential of cloud computing. Soon, this will change. As it becomes clear that this isn’t a magical cure (and cost reducer) that will solve all of your firm’s problems, cloud computing will move into what Gartner calls “the trough of disillusionment”. This is when people reject a novel new technology because it didn’t live up to its initial hype.

What All Of This Means For You

IT Leaders understand the true power of cloud computing. It offers a way to efficiently scale a firm’s computing infrastructure while at the same time allowing it to keep it’s IT operational costs under control.

Realizing that your senior management doesn’t quite fully “get” what cloud computing is and that they’ll soon decide that it’s not all that it was touted to be is an important understanding that we all need to have.

IT Leaders are going to have to continue to focus on finding ways to make use of cloud computing resources while incorporating its supporting technologies into the projects that they are working on today. Cloud computing will eventually arrive on the IT scene and it’s up to you to be ready when it comes.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Which of the three supporting technologies do you think is the most important to making cloud computing a success?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When you were just a worker-bee you didn’t have to worry about things like hiring people – you just had to worry about hanging on to the job that you had. Now that you are an IT manager, you’re going to have to start getting comfortable with your new role as someone who has to find people to fill open spots. Got any suggestions on how to do this correctly?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jean Cummings October 28, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Dr. Jim, I appreciate your points about cloud computing, but I also appreciate your tackling of the intersection between technical and management skills. Thanks!

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Dr. Jim Anderson October 29, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Jean: thanks! In the end it always comes down to people — how do we clearly communicate what needs to be done? I don’t think that I have all of the answers, but I’m getting better at asking the right questions!

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