Float with the clouds or freefall: What would you choose?

As an academic, I tend to look at cloud computing as a promising new computing innovation that can be leveraged by organizations to help them reach their strategic goals.  However, I try to maintain a solid connection to practice.  After all, how can we do research that is going to make a difference to business if we don’t know what business needs?  This connection to industry also allows me to get a feel for how practitioners feel about new computing innovations, and cloud computing is no exception.

So, how do many people in industry feel about cloud computing?  Well, let’s just say that if it went away tomorrow, not many tears would be shed. They view cloud as a threat to their job stability.   I’m not the first person to notice this.   William Hurley wrote about this back in February of last year in his post,  “IT needs to get over its cloud denial, or management will get over IT.”  Regardless of how IT practitioners feel about the subject of cloud computing, there is one simple reality.  The cloud is not going away.  So you can either float along with the cloud, or you can find yourself (and your career) falling without a parachute.

The issue here isn’t a new one.  It is the age old problem of getting IT and management on the same page when it comes to technology.  In my graduate information systems management course at UALR, one of the very first things that I preach to future MBAs is the fact that technology decisions can’t be made solely by management.  They also cannot be made solely by technologists.  In order for any technological decision to be functional and advance the strategic interests of an organization, it has to be made by both groups.  The business managers understand the business and the business strategy, the technologists understand the technology.

So it is imperative that IT get educated about the cloud so that they can help the organization to determine where cloud can help an organization and where it can not.  Otherwise, you will have a situation where business managers are making decisions based on metrics such as cost that may look good at first, but could wind up being a problem for the organization down the road.  In my opinion, I believe that cloud computing is an opportunity for IT professionals to strengthen their position in the organization.  In fact, instead of looking at cloud computing as a threat to our job security, we should look at it as a way to increase it.

Think about it.  How many organizations have IT departments with more work than they can handle?  I think it is safe to say that the majority of IT departments fall into this category.  In fact, I would say that much of the average IT professionals time is spent running around putting out fires.  Leveraging the cloud in a sensible manner can help to alleviate some of this workload and allow IT departments to focus more energy on the things that make sense for them to be spending time on.  So, do you want to float on the cloud or do you want to freefall?  To me, the choice seems pretty simple.

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