The challenge of simple IT: align the needs of the business to the budget, add capability without complexity

Cloud: sexy – Enterprise: not so much

I read this article several weeks ago. I’ve pondered it. I’ve read it over again. Here’s a quote:

If you unnaturally extend or generalize cloud solutions to me, or if you pontificate cloud idealisms without providing tangible platforms that can service what I am, then you waste my time. When you waste my time, I discard you.

Please don’t misdiagnose this as me being slow to adopt your solutions.

I’ve had this discussion with both vendors and internal stakeholders. My approach to cloud services is encapsulated in a few simple questions:

  • Is the expense budget in better shape than the capital budget?
  • Over four years, how does the cloud cost compare with the on-premise acquisition, deployment, administration and maintenance costs?
  • Does the cloud solution increase capability or mobility?
  • Does the cloud solution integrate well or co-exist with existing platforms and services?
  • Does the cloud solution reduce the administrative burden?
  • Is the cloud solution sufficiently secure?

Cloud solutions are wonderful. SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. I’ve made use of Google Apps & Office 365 (email, productivity and collaboration), ZOHO (productivity), Zendesk (helpdesk), LogMeIn (presence and VPN), Harvest (timekeeping and billing), Box, Crashplan & Dropbox (storage and sync) and many others. They’re great approaches that provide simple, robust solutions to frequently thorny problems. But they’re not the whole approach to every business need, nor are they always the best approach.

Make no mistake: as a consultant and mobile professional, I depend heavily on cloud services to keep me responsive, productive and in touch wherever I’m working. And as an IT professional I’ve replaced on-premise systems with cloud services to enhance capabilities without adding cost. But do your homework first.

And if you use the term “ROI” with me, I will pick you up and physically throw you out the door.


UPDATE 2014-Mar-24: ZOHO has requested that I remove the links to their products. You can find them at zoho [dot] com.



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