Cloud Governance Principles Born on the Fourth of July
Just as the same old Articles of Confederation wouldn't work for the newly independent United States, the same old IT governance principles won't work as your business continues to move to the cloud. Just make sure your cloud governance policies, like the Constitution, are designed to evolve.
Thu, July 05, 2012
CIO — This isn't an homage to the Tom Cruise movie or the classic song—this article gets its title because it was written on July 4, building on the theme of liberty and politics as they apply to IT and the cloud. Maybe system users can be thought of as citizens, and your budgeting and cloud governance problems could take a lesson from the Federalist Papers.
History buffs will tweet that my metaphors are inaccurate. UI experts will say I'm simply off base. Cloud zealots will scream that none of these issues exists, because, well, they're just smarter than that. Fine. Be that way. Ready, aim…
Too Much Liberty Doesn't Actually Work
The Declaration of Independence was written to overthrow the tyranny of the British Crown. It was all about freedom and self-determination in a new world where a thousand of realities were different than in England. But the Founding Fathers knew they couldn't just start over. They had to adapt the best ideas from Europe to fashion a totally new form of government.
Today in the cloud, there are a thousand discoveries yet to be made. You can't blindly apply the old rules of IT without risking revolt of users and developers alike. The cloud requires experimentation and works so well with agile precisely because, at the detail level, it's an undiscovered country. That said, the laws of physics still apply. The rules of the road for large-team collaboration need only to be translated, not re-invented from scratch.
Further, different parts of the cloud are at different stages of development. In areas such as expense-claim applications or document management systems, it's OK to experiment with several different cloud solutions across a large organization. Over time, the best one will win, and the migration off the losing system won't be terribly difficult.
When it comes to cloud infrastructure, though, too much liberty yields nothing but chaos and inefficiency. Think back to the multiple gauges of early railroad systems. History shows too many examples where limiting freedom of choice and diversity is much more effective for developing and deploying infrastructure. Look at centralized, communist China vs. decentralized, democratic India today.
Of course, the trick with dictatorship is figuring out exactly where to apply it and when to stop applying it. When it comes to cloud governance, think about the strategic value and "gravity well" quality of an infrastructure element before you mandate it across the organization. Then think about the technical and market conditions that should trigger the end of the mandate.