Truth or Dare: Congress to Clouds | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The recent news about anti-outsourcing legislation in the U.S. Congress struck me as a classic “truth or dare” situation. Even the press reports focused more on the political grandstanding (ironically, the “truth”) rather than the substance of the proposed laws (the “dare”).

The rhetoric got me thinking about other truth or dare phenomena that are occurring throughout the current environment. The case that seems to pop up most often these days is cloud computing.

If you listen to service provider pitches about cloud computing and cloud-enabled services, you’ll get promises that sound like the most populist politician – “a chicken in every pot” anyone? Nearly free compute and storage, painless installation, non-existent switching costs, and many more benefits. And if you’re a CIO, not having your head in the cloud(s) is a sure way to get your medium- to long-term plans challenged…sounds like a “dare” to me.

The “truth” also seems to be quite elusive. A friend several weeks ago told me about a large enterprise that was exploring options to do more with less in its IT area. A name brand provider was enthralling the CIO and her staff with a description of an ideal world not too different from the “dare” outlined above. The CIO bought in completely, and asked the provider when she could start. The provider literally froze in its tracks, then sheepishly admitted it couldn’t do what it was talking about. Rather, it was sharing a vision of the capability it planned to have mid-next year, and only a small fraction of the promise could be purchased and used today.

It became clear that the CIO was getting severe pressure from her boss and user community to get moving on efforts to take advantage of the low cost, high value cloud computing solutions about which they were hearing so much. This level of heightened expectations presents a distinct challenge for IT decision makers. The “dare” implicit in providers’ promises can only be ignored by CIOs at their own peril. The “truth” requires diligent, thoughtful solutioning and supplier selection so there is little to no gap with the “dare.”

The real solutions I’m seeing in the market suggest a growing array of uses for which the cloud makes sense. Constant monitoring is an imperative to keep up with the rapidly advancing market. The impact in many of these areas can be very compelling…”obviously less expensive” solutions that provide greater flexibility and control than ever before possible. CIOs can’t turn their backs on the “dare,” or they’re likely to find they’ve lost their way.

By the way, this entry was written both literally and figuratively in the cloud. After a first draft on the back of an envelope on a crowded flight, I used Google Docs and cloud-based email to send it. When you step back and think about it, it really is an amazing capability with remarkable price/performance…”truth or dare?”

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