Monday, October 18, 2010

Project Clouds

As the debate over the value of Public Clouds rages on (not sure why, but it does), companies are just now starting to see the immediate value of cloud computing. I realize that people who run IT are risk averse (which is why there is so little innovation coming out of IT), resistant to change (which is why things rarely get better), and rarely comprehend the technologies they oversee (I won't expound on this one). However they have one tremendous trait their predecessors did not: they understand the business. This viewpoint is starting to leak into the thinking about cloud computing and how to take advantage of it. Rather than focus on fighting the governance, security, ownership, ego wars of change, cloud computing can be applied to projects!

The real driver behind project clouds is speed to market. Things have to happen quickly to seize opportunities. Sun Tzu teaches one to assume whatever one is doing, their enemy is also doing, and therefore the winner is often determined by the one who achieves the objective first. I have found over my twenty years in IT and consulting that the larger the company, the longer simple tasks take in IT. Nowhere is this more evident than in the time it takes to provision environments, applications, and other technology tools for projects. Today the business cannot wait for IT to go through all their risk avoidance, cost containment, change preventing processes.

Every project needs its own set of tools from document sharing to issue tracking and often more specialized, project specific tools. My most recent example. We had our cloud based project management, issue tracking, document sharing, and prototyping solutions up and running in one day. It took over two months for IT to provision the sandbox and development environments. Worse, the environments were over 30days late on a three month development timeline. Real world differences like these point to the need for using cloud solutions. Pay-as-you-go, instant availability and scalability, what's not to like? Adopting the cloud is a risk avoidance technique, it's the lowest cost possible, and it requires IT to make no changes.

And security is no longer an excuse for sitting on the sidelines. With billions of dollars in transactions traversing public networks and clouds already we've proven that existing security solutions are adequate to the challenges of the cloud.

IT can either enable this process, or fight against it. However nobody should ever choose to stand in the way of progress; history has not been kind to those who have.

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