Don’t blame the cloud for your shoddy IT plans

Don’t blame the cloud for your shoddy IT plans
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If you've layered on technology willy-nilly, moving to the cloud won't prevent the resulting complexity -- unless you do some planning

A survey from IT consultancy Trustmarque has found that 81 percent of CIOs say the ever increasing complexity of IT infrastructure creates a bottleneck for IT support, while a similar number (82 percent) argue that IT support has become a "growing burden" on modern IT departments.

The survey polled 200 U.K. CIOs and senior IT decision makers from large enterprises. More than half (58 percent) of CIOs polled admit they had trouble offering a consistent level of IT support in their business. They claimed this was a direct result of the proliferation of cloud technologies used in their business.

I see, it's the cloud's fault!

First, complexity is the fault of the people in charge of IT. Over the years, many businesses have "managed by magazine," basically picking the technology of the day to serve whatever purpose. Most enterprise IT shops look like layers of technology history, with whatever is popular today coexisting with various technology that had their periods in vogue.

Second, cloud computing is only to blame if you let it get out of hand. A company that let its on-premise technology run out of control is very likely to let the same happen with cloud technology.

The root of this problem, from what I see at client sites, is a lack of planning. Most CIOs toss technology and money at problems. The more they pile on, the higher the tower of complexity they enable. With all that complexity comes fragility and static architectures that are difficult to change.

As a result, a CIO is often the one executive who can stop an enterprise's progress, even without meaning to, such as by preventing an acquisition or spinoff because the systems and architectures are too difficult to change.

How do you add the cloud to your IT mix without driving more complexity? You need to create a plan for cloud implementation that puts you on a path to reduce complexity. This means retiring systems that are redundant to the cloud services you'll use and getting your data combined and rehosted. You can't merely add technology; you have to remove and merge technology as well.

To do that, you need a multiyear strategy that everyone can live with, one that gets you to a more consolidated architecture that's much easier to support, as well as gobs cheaper.

Complexity is not the fault of the technology, cloud or not -- it's the fault of IT leaders who don't think strategically about how all this stuff needs to come together. If that sounds like your IT shop, it's time to think differently about how all this should be done. Don't blame the cloud -- look in the mirror.

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