I offer for your consideration "cloud quotas".
The idea is simple: executive management, frustrated by progress, creates a timeline for the IT function to get to cloud, e.g. 80% of workloads by 2020 or similar. Yearly goals are established to get to the desired state.
And to put some teeth into it, the IT budget is then forcibly partitioned into two segments: cloud and non-cloud, starting with 2016. The proportion of earmarked cloud spend is raised every budgeting year until the desired strategic target is achieved.
The goals are structured in such a way that typical IT cloud-washing won't help much.
Yes, IT will get credit for moving desktop and collaboration out, and perhaps that handful of pilot applications that have been moved, and of course any SaaS implemented -- but IT is not likely to get credit for, say, that IaaS-only private cloud sitting in the data center.
This is not theoretical: I have seen many examples from around the globe. Where I've seen it implemented, it's non-negotiable.
It's real, and it's happening for more than a few large IT organizations.
Why I Find This Fascinating
My favorite William Gibson quote is "the future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed". That observation would apply here as well. Cloud quotas are definitely here, but they're certainly not everywhere -- yet.
Most of my real-world examples come from banking and finance -- a notoriously IT-intensive industry - but there are also several data points from sectors as diverse as retail, public sector and manufacturing.
The only historical precedent that comes to mind was the wave of outsourcing that swept the industry a decade or so ago.
Outsourcing's siren song of "your mess for less" proved to be too tempting to many business leaders. And, as we know, things didn't end up so well for most of those that pursued this path.
At its essence, outsourcing was about running steady-state IT for less cost than doing so in-house. IT was simply another expense to be managed. Flexible and agile it was not.
This time around? It's about achieving the twin goals of reduced costs as well as increased agility.
Business Motivations Can't Be Denied
If you're on the board of directors of, say, a major bank, you have at least two very serious concerns that are relevant here.
One is serving the needs of shareholders by showing increased earnings year over year, even in flat economies. Until recently, the default answer was to acquire or be acquired -- but sheer size alone is no guarantee of continued success.
Cloud is compelling to business leaders as it directly attacks one of the largest budget items in any bank or financial shop: IT costs. Cloud also makes it easier to bring new products and services to market in the hopes of retaining customers and growing revenues.
No wonder I'm seeing more and more banking and finance IT shops that are now on a forced march towards cloud.
But there's a second, more troubling motivation: fear of disruption. Rivers of venture capital are pouring into smaller startups who want nothing more than to disrupt the status quo in banking and finance. Imagine PayPal on steroids, or crowdsourcing auto and home loans.
That's the sort of thing that can keep a senior executive up at night.
IT Resistance Is Hard To Overcome
Cutting to the uncomfortable truth, IT organizations are far smaller and leaner when using a cloud model. The infrastructure types, in particular, take a heavy hit.
So IT drags their feet. They run evaluation after evaluation. They build incompatible private clouds that lack the cost structure, agility and rich feature set of public clouds. If anything is moved, it's usually the least-demanding and least-sensitive workloads.
How long, exactly, have we been talking about hybrid clouds? At least seven years. Wise business leaders have started to figure out what's really going on.
If IT won't go willingly to the next IT model, business leadership has to step in and lay down the law. Yes, it's that important to them -- obviously.
And now, IT leadership needs a real, actionable game plan to move enterprise workloads to the agility and cost structure of a cloud model. Simply studying the problem won't suffice.
There Are Exceptions
The enterprise IT universe is a very large place, with wonderful diversity.
I have met a few (very few) larger IT organizations that have had some success hand-crafting a private cloud that delivers a reasonable set of infrastructure, platform and database services. They did so out of necessity at the time. None of them has told me that they'd do it again, and are all looking to get out from under the beast they've created.
I have met handfuls of IT organizations that have leaped headfirst from the familiar world of being datacenter systems integrators to the brave new world of learning to be cloud systems integrators. Any forward progress they make seems to be more than offset by the confounding complexity created in the process.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
There Is A More Logical Path
The main reason I and many of my colleagues have chosen to work at Oracle is that Oracle has figured out this enterprise cloud thing with a tantalizing combination of strategy, technology, resources and execution.
No one else in the industry could do anything close.
For the medium-to-large organization that's trying to figure out how to cloudify their enterprise application portfolio, it's worth learning about.
Maybe you'll see the unique appeal we all saw:
- Integrated enterprise SaaS that's designed to work together, and not as functional silos.
- Integrated enterprise PaaS that's targeted at making enterprise application developers far more productive.
- Integrated enterprise IaaS that's optimized for demanding enterprise workloads: Oracle and non-Oracle
- Engineered systems optimized for databases, applications and analytics, deployed in the datacenter or with precise equivalents in the Oracle Cloud.
- Cloud machines that bring the power of the public cloud model into the datacenter: for application development, database and analytics.
One open architecture, one extensible management framework, one trusted vendor to hold accountable -- that runs Oracle and non-Oracle workloads.
IT can now focus on getting results vs. being perpetual system integrators: both in the data center and in the cloud. The path to cloud is yours to define and control in a way that makes sense for you and your business.
That'll Never Happen Here ... Or Will It?
And you may be right. IT transitions tend to roll quickly in some segments, more slowly in others, and perhaps not at all in some.
But if you've noticed that the continual drumbeat to "do cloud" isn't going away, I'd argue it's only a matter of time before your IT function joins the ever-growing club of learning to work under the new breed of cloud quotas.
Because business people have this way of getting what they need.
Like this post? Why not subscribe via email?