Cloud isn’t easy, but it needs to be

Cloud isn’t easy, but it needs to be
stux (CC0)

Over the past decade, I've witnessed a constant stream of IT executives and technology professionals view cloud as a threat to their careers. The business side of the organization has always been a captive customer of IT's services, and now IT feels threatened by the litany of low-cost solutions readily available in the public cloud.  

Every once in a while IT begrudgingly agrees to implement a public cloud solution.  When the do, they carefully fence it off from the rest of IT—nominally to protect the company from hackers, but equally to protect the purity of IT. Treating cloud as a standalone point solution enables them to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, using the mixed results to demonstrate that cloud just can’t hack it in the real world. 

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Yet in the background, business executives continue to share the same opinion of IT they’ve had for 20-plus years: too slow, too expensive and too outdated. And where do those executives point when asked for an example of technology done right? Public cloud.

Stop and consider this question: Why has public cloud taken off in all of its forms? 

Whether it’s infrastructure, platform or software as a service, the truth is adoption is growing at historic rates. Certainly there’s a long, complex answer about the economic model and benefits of capital avoidance; however, savvy tech execs across the Fortune 500 have been negating that response for years. After all, the economics of a model driven by consumption, where consumption is rarely predictable, sounds more like a recipe for bankruptcy than an IPO. And that's before considering all the assets sprawled across cavernous data centers.

In truth, public cloud has been astoundingly successful because it seized on an often overlooked equation: Value x Easy = Consumption. While a CIO can tell you their infrastructure, platform or applications are cheaper than public cloud (whether true or not), what you don’t hear often is how easy their "cloud" is to adopt and use.

It turns out making something easy isn't easy, and cloud is anything but easy. In fact, to many business executives, IT represents the opposite of easy—with many risking their reputation to convince other executives that going around IT is the right strategy. 

Without a concerted effort to make cloud easy, the entire equation is upset. Easy is the governor on the economic engine of cloud. Having cloud capabilities and being able to deliver value isn't enough. When cloud isn't easy, it lulls CIOs into believing their complex, difficult-to-consume technology is less expensive than public cloud. When done right, "Easy" is the multiplier of "Value" and drives consumption. At that point, IT executives and technology professionals stop viewing cloud as a threat and begin seeing it as a driver of career opportunity as the business relationship evolves from captive customer to strategic partner.

Cloud in the enterprise will never be a success without Easy.

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