IT needs to get over its cloud denial, or management will get over IT

Cloud computing could bring IT departments closer to our business, but it's more likely to drive us further apart.

Cloud computing can potentially unite a user's every whim with a myriad of relevant resources. It can also help IT provide better services, expand its service offerings, and reduce cost. Cloud users make out like bandits with little risk. IT, on the other hand, has a lot more skin in the game.

IT's role in danger. Embracing the cloud can help.

Wake up, IT. You're giving your executives an easy out. Why should they put up with your costly, dysfunctional ways when their fanciful dreams of a utopian infrastructure seem suddenly achievable via the cloud? When any manager with a corporate credit card can go out to the cloud and purchase new services, where does that leave an IT department that failed to satisfy its users? Out in the cold, my friends. Out in the cold.

[ Learn what cloud computing's risks are -- so you can address them up front. ]

As an industry, we've never really worked out the user-versus-IT issues that have plagued companies with more employees than can fit in a single conference room for decades. Who hasn't laughed knowingly at the uncanny accuracy of the satire on The Web Site Is Down? All these years, all these conflicts, all these ups and downs, and business users are still flooding the Internet with the same tired complaints.

But now, SMB companies especially can go to the cloud for a generous portion of their software and services needs. Users can put a bug in their bosses' ears about how much you suck and how much the latest cool Web app rocks. Then all it takes is one intrepid peon looking to make a name with a CBA, and you're 75 percent or more toast.

IT needs to see the cloud as its friend, not enemy

Recently my good friend Ynema Mangum discussed cloud economy in her blog, including George Reese's post on the economics of cloud computing. I'll go into economic detail in a future column, but in brief they agree that deploying within the cloud saves an average of 29 percent over an internal IT department, with an upfront cost at or near $0.

So what's an IT department to do?

First, research. What cloud technologies are your peeps happily using at home? What stable, secure cloud computing solutions are already out there for problems you've been solving the hard way? What crusty, dusty, underperforming corners of your infrastructure have you been meaning to revamp for years? Is there a cloud way to spruce up those nooks?

Second, stop thinking that enterprise and consumer technologies are so different. That line got blurry years ago.

Third and most important, don't stay the course. Be the rock stars that self-regulate and bring glorious, cost-saving proposals before the executive gods like fragrant burnt offerings. Be the indispensable heroes in tough economic times.

Sure, every situation is unique, but all business users demand constantly available, easy-to-use technology -- and unlike you they don't use technology for technology's sake. You give them what they want while saving the big bosses money, and you win.