Admit your mistakes if you want to succeed in the cloud

Enterprises that won’t admit mistakes either keep making them or avoid risk by not improving. Both approaches will cost you dearly

Admit your mistakes if you want to succeed in the cloud
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It’s 8:00 a.m. and I get a call from a client. It sounds like the workloads that the CIO had IT move to public cloud are not performing well. The data, by the way, was left on-premises, so all database calls are being made across the open internet.

Can you guess what’s wrong here?

In this case, the client admitted that the separation of the application and the database by 3,000 miles was a key mistake, and it was willing to redo the implementation. Obviously, that meant more costs, risk, and time. However, the client got a workable workload in the end. And a valuable lesson learned.

But some companies are not as smart. They are slow to admit mistakes, if they ever admit them at all. So the costs of getting it wrong — and of continuing to get it wrong — really add up.

As a consultant, the blame often finds its way to me. That’s why I’ve gotten a bit defensive, using email to provide key advice so I have a record of doing so. If and when people get selective amnesia, I can bring up a few gentle reminders from my Sent folder.

But that’s not my point. What’s key to remember is that when you move to the cloud you’re going to make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are big ones, such as leaving the data in the datacenter for imagined security reasons. Most often, those mistakes are small ones, such as not using cost monitoring or using the wrong API set.

Companies are often reluctant to admit mistakes because it’s embarrassing. But they pay a high price to keep their heads in the sand. They’ll spend more money, time, and staff resources than they need to in overcoming the cumulative costs of their ignored mistakes. Worse, they’ll keep repeating them until the elephant is too big to ignore any longer.

Then the direct penalties start for the IT team that did the work: reduced budgets next year, being passed over for promotions, or even getting fired in extreme cases.

The corporate culture is at fault, if that’s the result of mistakes.

Yes, there should be a plan in place that eliminates or greatly reduces dumb mistakes. However, if the IT staff learns that it may not make any mistakes, it will take no risk, which means no innovation and very little improvement to how IT is done.

Realize that mistakes will be made. Recognize and admit them as quickly as you can, address them, and move on. That’s the only way you can find out what works and what does not.

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