Cloud Adoption a ‘Runaway Train’ That’s Putting Jobs at Risk, CEO Says

    According to the results of a recent survey on cloud adoption, 28 percent of IT professionals are somewhat or very concerned that cloud infrastructure adoption may put their current job at risk. And the hard reality is, they have very reason to be concerned.

    That’s the assessment of Dave Link, founder and CEO of ScienceLogic, a hybrid IT monitoring software provider in Reston, Va. Link explained the hard reality this way:

    What I hear from CIOs and technologists around the world is that perhaps the survey results aren’t even as indicative of just how big and dramatic the growth of cloud really is. When you understand what’s happening, this is a runaway train. And they can be private clouds as well as public clouds, or a combination of them both, what we call hybrid cloud. And because of that, if you’re not improving your skills, I think you put yourself at risk. There’s just a lot of change that’s going on right now, and that really requires us to rethink our foundational knowledge base and continue to have that quest of curiosity and learning to improve, and leapfrog what we knew before. This trend is growing exponentially, vs. gradually, right now.

    I mentioned to Link that I had recently spoken with the chief architect of Datalink, which did a survey that found that 40 percent of the respondents had pulled at least one workload back from the public cloud, because it ended up there without an architecture or a strategy, and that created problems. I asked him if that statistic is consistent with what ScienceLogic is finding, and Link indicated that indeed, not every application is suitable for the cloud:

    I think a lot of people did get caught flat-footed. In the race to the cloud, they moved a lot of applications, some of which were proactively managed, many of which were not. And when they got the bills, the bills were bigger than they thought they were going to have, and that really gave people pause. It really depends on the application profile: Is it tailor-made for certain price points that are incredibly attractive in the cloud, but not attractive if you just stick it out there and run it 24×7 as you did in your private data center?

    I noted that President Trump has said the United States will impose a “very major” border tax on companies that outsource jobs overseas. It occurs to me that in a sense, a lot of companies are outsourcing jobs to the cloud, so I asked Link how likely he thinks it might be that adoption of cloud infrastructure will accelerate even faster as companies take that route instead of outsourcing jobs overseas? He said it was a very timely question:

    But I think that’s what’s been happening for the last five years. So when you look at how much agility and resource allocation that you need to put against the traditional way IT has worked in the past, most companies have wanted to get to a much higher level of automation. And in getting to a much higher level of automation, rather than building the load balancer, and the database, and the webserver farm, and the different caching services, and all the services that cloud providers make available, now you don’t have to buy all these technologies and figure out how they all plug together, and then deliver them as an integrated service. The cloud really made that much more convenient, and thus reduced, to some degree, the amount of resources that you needed to quickly spin-up that kind of complex architecture. That is a huge cost savings — one of the benefits of using those services is you just don’t need as many people. There’s a much higher level of automation — I think over the next 10 years, they’ll figure out how to optimize what’s been virtualized. One of the opportunities cloud gives us is to finally get cost out of operations and IT. But I do believe you have to be very thoughtful, and somewhat pragmatic, as to which applications are a really good profile fit for moving to the cloud. And what you have to do to manage those applications, or refactor them so that you leverage the benefits of the cloud service providers.

    I wrapped up the conversation by asking Link if he found any survey results to be particularly surprising or unexpected. His response:

    Only 28 percent had a process to control public cloud sprawl. One CIO said the hardest thing that he fights with is, once a system gets spun up, whether it’s in the cloud or in your private system, actually turning it off has become a really significant point of contention and chaos within the organization. Because in some cases, you don’t know what you might impact by turning something down, even if it has a low usage level. It’s very hard to turn systems off once they get turned on, unless they’re designed and built that way. I think that’s an area where there’s still a lot of work to do in enterprise IT — a great opportunity for cost optimization is going to be figuring out what you can turn off that’s already been turned on. The survey essentially just told us what we know: People are not very good at that, which is why their costs are potentially higher than they had hoped.

    A contributing writer on IT management and career topics with IT Business Edge since 2009, Don Tennant began his technology journalism career in 1990 in Hong Kong, where he served as editor of the Hong Kong edition of Computerworld. After returning to the U.S. in 2000, he became Editor in Chief of the U.S. edition of Computerworld, and later assumed the editorial directorship of Computerworld and InfoWorld. Don was presented with the 2007 Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity by American Business Media, and he is a recipient of the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for editorial excellence in news coverage. Follow him on Twitter @dontennant.

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