How to handle the politics of cloud resistance

In a cloud migration, technology is your friend -- but your colleagues tend to be your enemy

How to handle the politics of cloud resistance
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Why do cloud projects fail? Why does cloud technology not meet expectations? Why are security models are not transferable to the cloud? How did you end up with performance issues that can’t be fixed? The answer is usually this: resistance from your colleagues.

The overwhelming issues that I run into when helping clients move to cloud computing are never the technology -- those issues are easily fixed. It’s the people issues. But don’t despair because there are some actions you can take.

Most cloud computing projects threaten someone in the organization. No matter if they admit it or not, or if their lives will actually change or not, the core idea of public cloud computing is to remove some of the control that your colleagues may currently have. At the heart of cloud resistance is insecurity.

How does that express itself in a cloud migration effort? People demand that you get their approval and then don’t show up to meetings. Budget dollars are removed that were initially earmarked for the cloud. And, my favorite, some people go to company leadership to scare them to death about the imaginary threats that cloud computing will bring. The resistance is often pretty passive aggressive.

You can consider a few things to counteract this behavior:

  • You could demand the resister be fired, but that never works. Indeed, it could even get you fired.
  • You could get in a huge shouting match in the hallway. But once again, that could get you fired.
  • You could overeducate and overcommunicate the value of the cloud. This is the best option.

If there is anything that can fix political issues, it’s providing information early and often. I’ve seen my clients buy cloud computing books for the entire staff, get training accounts on learning sites for basic cloud training, and even invite speakers to present cloud success stories from other organizations.

I call this passive education, to combat passive aggression. It’s easy to push back on cloud projects and specific cloud efforts if no one knows what the cloud really is and does. A lack of understanding is at the root of the insecurity some people experience, and the (passive) aggression that results.

A bit of knowledge will soften up the people who are on the fence about cloud computing. Once that happens, things will go a lot smoother because you'll have the crowd's momentum on your side.