Say goodbye to traditional IT

Move up to the cloud. You won't miss what you've left behind, and neither will your business customers.

floppy disk old technology obsolete disk computer data 000003707489
Credit: iStockphoto

For anyone who's been in the enterprise information technology (IT) field for the past 10-15 years, you know the challenge of making literally hundreds of different technologies work together to support complex business needs.

During the course of a single day, I can remember my IT teams testing our data centers' backup generators and cooling systems, installing new network switches, racking and stacking new servers, troubleshooting failed mainframe jobs, making sure application upgrades were released on schedule, and troubleshooting a system outage that disrupted our company's warehouse operations. And the next day? A completely different set of preventive maintenance tasks, capacity increases, new code deployments, and operational challenges.

For anyone who's been in a business that's relied heavily on IT over the past 10-15 years (and who hasn't?), you know the frustration that comes from watching your IT team struggle mightily to operate complex systems, much less deliver new capabilities.

I can remember the incredulous looks I received when informing business partners it would take 12-18 months to deliver a new system that they really needed yesterday. And it would likely cost seven figures. And, they were going to have to dedicate their best and brightest to develop the detailed requirements. It was the truth, but it wasn’t a message I was pumped to deliver, and my business colleagues weren’t thrilled to hear it.

Dissatisfaction ruled the day.

And then, the cloud came along.

At first, it was nothing more than co-location space, but it helped relieve the constraints associated with space, power and cooling. Many IT Departments were never great at managing data centers, which is more akin to facilities than technology work. With co-location, projects that were stalled by IT’s inability to add just a few more servers to their in-house data centers began to move ahead. There was hope.

Then, some entrepreneurial folks realized they could provide faster, more reliable, and less expensive email and Web hosting services than corporate IT shops. It was an easy sell for IT leaders, as they never got credit for email working anyway, but got plenty of grief when it wasn’t.

And then, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) began to appear. Gone were the days of building your own, or enduring the agony of installing commercial off the shelf (COTS) software to run your sales, accounting, HR, supply chain or other business functions. Mandatory, disruptive, costly, and complex upgrades? A thing of the past.

And if you did need to build your own application for a truly unique business need? Cloud computing and storage began to proliferate.

Now, making the literally hundreds of different and complex technologies work together to support business needs is the core competency of cloud providers. Those difficult meetings where the business feels under-served can be a thing of the past.

IT professionals don’t need to focus on making sure generators have fuel. Or struggle to eke out just a little more power in the data center for a new server. Or arrive at a morning meeting exhausted from an all-night troubleshooting effort. Instead, they can spend the time with their business counterparts, helping them tap into the incredible power of technology to solve complex problems and grow revenue.

In this blog, I’ll focus on the cloud, and how both IT and business leaders can leverage it to realize the true power of IT. If you and your company have already embraced the cloud, congratulations; I'll discuss things here that can help you accelerate your journey. If you and your company haven't yet dipped your toes in the water, it's time to get started; I'll share with you ways to successfully launch and sustain a presence in the cloud. And for everyone, I'll discuss topics that are important no matter where you are on the cloud adoption curve: security, costs, skill sets, features, and more.

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?

To comment on this article and other CIO content, visit us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Download the CIO October 2016 Digital Magazine
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.