Cloud Computing – History repeats itself

by Abhinna Shreshtha    Oct 18, 2010

Cloud Computing  History repeats itselfWhen years back, service providers introduced the option of IT outsourcing to companies, the way in which organizations used IT drastically changed. Now years down the line, the outsourcing model has further evolved with the concept of cloud computing. With a number of similarities, it would be perhaps be wise if organizations took a look at the past to get a glimpse of the future.

Outsourcing IT applications was a godsend for many organizations, but there are many that chose to continue managing IT in-house. There still are many such companies, especially in the developing nation, who look after their own IT infrastructure and are doing a good job. Just because a new concept comes in doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.

Service companies have always tried to convince people to outsource and with cloud computing they will only become more insistent. As a user, it is very easy to get tempted by the number of benefits moving to the cloud will bring. But just as outsourcing is not always the best option, embracing cloud computing might not be in the best interests of your organization. Don’t get enamored by just what service providers tell you. Speak to people who have adopted and try to figure out whether your company will benefit or not.

Of course the flip side is also true, just because you don’t have any immediate plans for cloud computing, does not mean that you ignore it completely. Do your groundwork and keep track of what is happening in the industry. When the time comes to move to the cloud, you won’t have to spend time getting to grips with it.

A good idea is to do things incrementally. This will make it easier for both service provider and users to figure out the glitches as and when they appear.

Of course, moving to the cloud does not mean all problems are over. Yes, it is suppose to relieve you of all your IT worries, but in reality, one set of responsibilities will be replaced by another. For starters, standard SLAs that are being used for outsourcing projects currently will need need to accommodate the changes that cloud computing will bring. What happens if the provider shuts down? Do I keep ownership of my data on the cloud? These are just some of the questions to be considered.

Also, the responsibilities of in-house IT teams will definitely change, as they did when outsourcing became mainstream. CIO will have to figure out how their current staff complements the company’s move to the cloud. We could be looking at an era where the role of the IT team changes to one of monitoring, as work gets more and more sourced to third-parties. In such a scenario how does a CIO tinker with his workforce? Removing redundant IT hardware is easy, laying off human resources is not; the management and IT heads will have to figure out a way out of this quandary.

History repeats itself as farce. So where does the farce part come in? Never, if we are lucky. Where the danger lies is with organizations jumping in without getting the basics right. The way in which some IT companies are being enthusiastic about the cloud leaves open the chance that someone might jump their guns a little too soon. Of course there will be the occasional slip-ups in the beginning that is only to be accepted; the danger lies that a single high-profile blunder could cause confidence in to waver and then what was being touted as a revolution could very well see an early grave.

The concept is still nascent, a lot of things need to be worked out and there are really no standards or best practices that anyone agrees on. In such a scenario, it is important that the IT ecosystem takes lessons from past mistakes and tries not to repeat them.