Moving computing power to a cloud infrastructure provider offers an ever-growing list of advantages. Importantly, these are exactly in line with the shift many traditional companies need to make to remain competitive in today’s digital landscape, no matter what industry they are in. We are talking about things like scalability, mobility and despite noise to the contrary, reliability, cost and security.
Yet, migration to the Cloud is seen by many companies as an option: A big investment, with an uncertain short-term impact. Like any transformation in a big corporation, resistance is based on a very human factor: fear of change.
A rocky road
Given the hierarchical nature of many decision-making processes in big corporations, the road to adoption of cloud infrastructure can be long and winding. It’s made even more cumbersome by the fact that many Iaas providers don’t seem ready to make things easier. Take this article by David Linthicum, 3 barriers between AWS and businesses written all the way back in 2013. He cites the main barriers to companies adopting AWS. Specifically, companies are used to making deals… and AWS doesn’t give an inch. And that AWS isn’t really into enterprises rewriting standard contact. Naturally this doesn’t sit well with clients who are used to having some negotiating room. These needs for negotiation to be a part of the process when partnering with outside providers is as much about establishing a relationship, read trust, as anything else. So despite the Monster migration trucks on show at AWS re:Invent 2016, how much has that situation evolved?
The change resistant person
Within your company, where would the recommendation to move to Cloud infrastructure come from? Someone in the IT department, the VP of Engineering? the CTO… The people who have worked so hard to implement, adapt and maintain the current IT technology? Could it be the same person who recommended you invest tens of thousands in hardware just a few years ago? The leader of a team whose collective skill sets are potentially becoming obsolete? And whose job security is potentially diminishing? Let’s face it, Cloud computing concepts, tools, structures and methodologies can be very challenging. So no! It's not likely to be one of these people. In fact, probably for many long-standing companies the very technology stalwarts that need to champion change will be the ones to block it.
Whirring vs. fluffy
Externalising computing power to a very abstract Cloud from a tightly-guarded concrete bunker represents a transition that is primarily physical. But at a deeper level it represents a psychological shift in terms of understanding what computing is and about how it relates to company data. This kind of dematerialization can represent a loss for IT teams, and transferring to someone else's servers requires trust.
As hacks are a widely publicised aspect of the Cloud, resistance also comes from a perceived lack of control and vulnerability. While security is a critical aspect of Cloud Iaas, in-house IT set-ups are only seemingly more secure, like air crashes featuring more in the news than car crashes, the reality is that the true risks are the other way round. On premise hardware is vulnerable to breakdown, obsolescence and even intentional interference from disgruntled employees. But these whirring boxes certainly gave the the impression of security, with their own locked room and fan in the basement, which could be checked up on at regular intervals.
The reality of change
Read any technology news, blog or opinion piece on the internet and you will could get the impression that the vast majority of companies utilise Cloud Iaas systems or hybrid setups for their IT requirements, and if they don’t do so yet, are enthusiastically embracing the change to come. But the mindset of technology journalists is not necessarily the same as that of those loyally staffing IT departments. Because upper management is often uncertain how to define or measure the objectives of migrating to the Cloud, combined with the contrast that internal IT setups are accurately costed as a clear, tangible expense in the budget: Migration to utility computing can feel more like wading through mud than walking on a cloud.
Companies need help moving off legacy systems, and the confidence to optimally control their Cloud infrastructure. What's the best way to help them do so? Leave a comment below if you have any suggestions...