How to turn IT from ugly sister to Taylor Swift in four easy steps

The phrase ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ is one which you hear on a daily basis, but with the drawn-out introduction of cloud computing it does seem quite appropriate.

The term cloud has been the central point of both consumer and corporate marketing campaigns for what seems like forever, so you’ll be forgiven for assuming it’s now a given. But that is still not the case. Speaking at IP Expo, Microsoft Azure’s CTO Mark Russinovich gave us a run-down of what he considers to be the final roadblocks on the drawn out journey to the Promised Land.

First and foremost, we’re still talking about a culture change. For the most part, the IT team, and the wider business for that matter, are still operating in what new-age thinkers would now call a traditional business model. It’s the difference between the ‘keeping the lights on’ mentality, and the transformed mind set of IT in the new team for innovation. According to Russinovich, there are still too many teams focused on IT metrics as opposed to seeking new business opportunities through the exploitation of IT.

The second is more of a wider business challenge, but one which can cause much heart-ache if not addressed appropriately. You want the cloud, but how do you get it; what is the migration strategy? While most organizations accept the next move has to be cloud, that’s it. There is very little guidance on how to get there or the phased integration which is needed. For most organizations there needs to be the question of what to migrate first, as opposed to how long it will take us to get there.

Cost is another area which many organizations don’t seem to understand either, however this is not the fault of the organizations themselves. In the early adopter days of any new technology, many decision makers will lean on vendors to understand the benefits and be educated on how the new technology works. During cloud computing, the message was clear; it’s cheaper.

Thankfully the industry has moved on since these days, instead focusing on the agility and scalability benefits, but the idea of the cloud being cheaper is still common. For the most part, this is the case in the long-run, but the upfront costs can shock some decision makers. Russinovich thinks there still needs to be work to communicate to the industry that buying cloud is not necessarily decreasing OPEX, but instead increasing the opportunities to make money. It’s a simple idea, but an important one.

And finally, security. Security again and again and again. It’s a topic that never seems to grow old. But why? Most would now accept cloud propositions are now more secure, but it still seems to be a roadblock, why? According to Russinovich, it’s the way in which the industry thinks about security. If you can’t touch it, you can’t protect it and therefore you can’t secure it. The mentality towards security needs to shift drastically if the concept of the cloud is to work, as there are some pretty smart guys in the background making sure your world is safe.

So there we have it. Four challenges that are simple to identify but immensely complicated to correct. This is unlikely to be the last time we discuss barriers to entry on, but there is a good reason. You can’t team the IT team it’s the ugly sister who scrubs the floor and hides in the attic all the time, and then expect it to jump to centre stage singing Taylor Swift at the top of its lungs overnight. It will be a gradual process, but rest assured, we’re getting there.

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