Technology

We love the misery of stacking servers

There has been a lot of discussion about cloud adoption and how it is beginning to make an impact on our lives. To date many of us experience this in our personal lives more so than our working environments.

For my daughter experimenting with her first tablet, cloud services are natural to her. She has never experienced anything else and frankly older alternatives would seem quite clunky and old fashioned by comparison. She will never buy a CD when downloads are so easy, and now that we have access to a vast catalogue of movies on demand why would she ever buy a DVD?

I have noted also my wife playing music in the kitchen through her iPad because our expensive stereo is in the wrong place i.e. tolerating a lower quality for convenience. I’ve solved the problem by buying a Sonos (but don’t have the heart yet to chuck out the old stereo!)

I, of course, being of a certain age, still like to buy a CD. There are some practical reasons, it’s still easier to use in my car (technology lock-in) and I can digitise anyway. But also psychologically, I do like to have a physical package to hold and treasure. A download never seems the same to me. I guess some IT folks feel the same way about their servers! Even now though I’m beginning to wonder where I’m going to put all these CDs and DVDs I like. Many Enterprises are thinking the same about their huge investment time and energy in maintaining IT space, just to put servers in.

The fundamental message is that if technology is made easy people will use it and this stuff is so easy that our kids are using it. If you’re looking for a fundamental drive for the adoption of cloud it is that people are LAZY. If something is manifestly easier to use than an alternative, people will use it. The ease of use will overcome most objections. Witness for example the widespread use in companies of online services such as Dropbox, outside the control of IT departments and in many cases in contravention of security guidance. I met a client recently who was actually in charge of driving change of culture within the organisation to improve data security and he himself admitted that he used Dropbox against his own guidelines. Why? Laziness, it is so much easier than the alternatives available to him and under time pressure people will always go with the easy choice.

So why then is the adoption of Cloud within the Enterprise and Government still more talked about than delivered?

Alan Mather talks on his blog about the partial corruption of G Cloud as a vehicle for selling consulting more so than real cloud (so that’s what PAAS means, people as a service!).

This is a bit of a shame. There are a lot of willing providers out there and a lot of goodwill and intent in Government, but the numbers aren’t there yet.

And while many Enterprises have now stated their intention to go on a Cloud journey the progress often lags the rhetoric by quite a margin. Cloud is still the pimple on the Elephant of Enterprise IT. Sure it is beginning to impact, yet the vast majority of data and compute capacity running in Enterprise data centres (or increasingly co-located).

So why is this?

It isn’t easy enough – yet. People are still lazy, but transition is still too complex for many, the applications still don’t port very well and there is a significant inertia lag.

But there is more to it.

People find it difficult to change and tied in for a whole host of psychological and sociological reasons, reluctance to change habits, fear of impact on roles, historic outsourcing agreements and genuine security concerns.

Cloud market strategists tend to talk a lot about the revolution that will be caused when the so called Digital Natives take control of decision making. These are technical people under 30 who have grown up in a Cloud world and don’t expect anything different. I remember taking umbrage at this as an over 40 myself, both on my own behalf and those of my clients many of whom are of a similar generation who I usually find to be thoughtful, capable and keen to embrace change. And yet, we are all prisoners of our habit and history to some extent, like the embarrassing dads at the kid’s party.

In a great episode of Father Ted which is one of my all time favourites (yes I have the box set!), Mrs. Doyle contemplates technological substitution when Father Ted buys her a tea making machine. Of course this strikes to the heart of Mrs. Doyle’s self-perception and in the end she destroys the machine declaring “but I like the misery of making tea!”

Then you have a whole host of OEMs doing their best to support the status quo. As Mrs. Doyle would say, ‘Ah go on, will you have another server in your hand?’ There you go making it easy to buy more kit and correspondingly difficult to break the habit.

We of course as Cloud service providers have a role to make our cloud services easier to use and to assist our customers overcome the inertia, both real and psychological.

At Data News Blog we are doing this by developing our Cloud services to:

  • Enable clients to manage their infrastructure through an easy to use intuitive portal, giving them the control and visibility they need to run their applications effectively.
  • Integrating the service with the network to allow controlled secure access to the Cloud by whatever means is appropriate to the client situation and data.
  • Enabling clients to collocate and manage their existing non cloud infrastructure adjacent to our Cloud services

And of course at Data News Blog, like Mrs Doyle we still enjoy the misery of stacking servers and changing tapes for our colocation customers.