Clouding the Real Value of IT

Recently we went through a migration from one version of a cloud service to another version (an upgrade) with the same cloud provider.

This is supposed to be the glory part of the cloud.  As a CIO I didn’t have to staff up, invest $ in testing environments, and all those good things that “just happen” when you are in the cloud.  Well…guess again.

The funny part is, our IT organization has enough grizzled vets to know that it doesn’t matter what it is, it needs to be tested.  We asked the cloud provider ten ways from Sunday how to test the environment.  What came back was – it was tested and everything is ok.  Fool me once, shame on me.  I won’t get fooled again.  What I learned in this process, and am seeing elsewhere is that, unfortunately, the cloud providers don’t have the same grizzled-IT mentality.   Maybe the cloud provider just doesn’t want to invest in the test environments necessary to test properly.  I can tell you that within our organization we spend on average 10 times the dollar amount of the original software in testing (additional hardware, software, people, processes, etc.).  Until the cloud provider proves that they have a true IT mentality, I can never trust them again.

I now laugh twice as hard as I did before at any of the so-called guru’s that say that you won’t need IT because of the cloud.  You need IT people because they have been through the grinder, they know what life is like when you don’t plan, test, evaluate, plan, test again, do a mock, then UAT it and then move it to production.   IT people understand the criticality of planning, mitigating risks, planning for disasters, understanding the nuances of the data to be migrated, the api’s that have to be tested, etc.  And as for the platform itself, just because it’s in the cloud doesn’t mean that it’s been thoroughly tested for your needs.  So long as there are humans involved, you have to plan for the worst.

The long and short of it is this – no matter how big or small that cloud solution is – do not trust the cloud provider when they said “they tested it”.  As an old hero of mine once said – “Trust but verify”.

5 responses to “Clouding the Real Value of IT

  1. Amen.

  2. “I now laugh twice as hard as I did before at any of the so-called guru’s that say that you won’t need IT because of the cloud.”

    Very reasonable remark. I know many IT professionals that are worried about becoming useless once their infrastructure is moved to the cloud. Computers will always be computers, even if they are virtual and you can create snapshots that save you time when mistakes are done.

  3. Bill Hurley Sr.

    It has been axiomatic in IT since we learned it the hard way in the 1960’s; what the it techy creators (in this case the cloud techies) consider to be operational (and tested) is frequently a far cry from what the customer/client/user views as satisfying his needs (even when originally defined). Was it Reagan that said “trust, but verify”?

  4. In today’s world of instant gratification and “easy” buttons, it is difficult to find folks with battle scars. There is nothing that happens automagically (I am sure you recall this phrase) and everything that is claimed to happen automagically needs to be tested twice.
    However, there are still many areas that we don’t test for e.g. haven’t heard of anyone testing the airbags before buying a car! Herein comes the trust angle and the involvement of humans. For all the 6 sigma processes in the world, the only exception is the human being!! The war hardened sarge can never be replaced but he will need to adapt to UAVs vs firing from the trenches (cloud vs datacenter). The soldiers morph from sten gunners to joy stick handlers and there starts the inevitable journey of experience-ops manuals-humans-machines.
    The key here is to be able to morph with the demands of the changing environment data center to cloud, insource to outsource, near to far….

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