Cloud Computing Forces IT Organizational Change Management

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

The Seven Most Common Self-inflicted Wounds in the Cloud

There are many things that IT organizations do that wind up making it harder to migrate to cloud computing, but the biggest failing seems to be an inability to recognize that cloud computing will require IT organizational change management.

In the name of expediency and a fear of the unknown, far too many IT organizations are taking a tactical approach to cloud computing focused mainly on pilot projects of limited scope. The projects usually involve building a private cloud of their own or deploying a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application. Before too long, however, cloud computing sprawl runs rampant and there is no effective management structure in place to really deal with it.

Derick Townsend, senior director of marketing for ServiceMesh, a provider of a framework for managing cloud computing deployments, says his organization encounters this issue with customers time and again. They fail to recognize that cloud computing is a lot more about the way technology is managed and delivered than it is about the technology itself, says Townsend. What cloud computing really is, says Townsend, is a new fine-grain economic model for delivering self-service IT.

The failure to have an appropriate management model in place to reflect that reality stems from the fact that many IT organizations are jumping feet first into the cloud because senior management has the CIO's back up against the wall. They are generally convinced that cloud computing saves money without really understanding the management implications associated with the model.

Many of them, adds Townsend, tend to view IT as "the department of no" or "the business prevention department." They see cloud computing, says Townsend, as way to end run the "forest of stop signs" that the internal IT department has come to represent to them. As a result, many business executives are advocating the agility associated cloud computing as much out of frustration as of cost savings.

On the other end of the spectrum, of course, there are IT organizations that simply dismiss cloud computing as vendor hype. They suffer from a form of cloud fatigue that makes it difficult to appreciate all the nuances of the cloud computing model. As a result, many of them engage in a form of "cloudwashing" in which they point to a few virtual machine instances and claim it's a private cloud.

With the advent of cloud computing, it's becoming clear that IT organizations need to think in terms of managing services, rather than managing devices. As such, the IT organization should be organized around the delivery and management of services, rather than the management of servers, storage and network products and technologies. That, of course, is something that is much easier said than done given the long history of IT management.

But a combination of technical, economic and cultural issues are coming together to force IT organizational change. Rather than being seen as simply letting that just happen to the IT department, IT leaders would be well advised to be the ones seen as driving those actual changes.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Nov 23, 2011 12:11 PM LFH LFH  says:

Surprising there are no comments, so glad to be first. In the recent WSJ article entitled, "Apple Seeks Executives for Cloud Computing" reflects the technical aspects of your article rather than trying to frame the problems, challenges and issues to help achieve success with cloud computing. 

We are still in the nascent stages of "cloud computing" and it is my point of view that the small pilots and rogue "business-driven" projects can serve as the catalyst, they can also reinforce some bad habits like a poorly guided golf swing with no instruction.  The opportunity is enormous and will be in hyper-speed over the next 10 years as small biz, government and multinationals figure out how to capitalize on cloud computing.  What an exciting time for those who can adapt, lead change, and fearless in charging ahead with well thought plans of attack.  Well done article.  @uberconsultant


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