'Cloud only' policies are as bad as 'no cloud' ones

IT tends to shift from one extreme to the other. Emerging technologies can be beneficial, but across-the-board restrictions can result in bad platform decisions

Here’s what Gartner said back in 2016: “By 2020, a corporate ‘no cloud’ policy will be as rare as a ‘no internet’ policy is today. Cloud-first, and even cloud-only, is replacing the defensive no-cloud stance that dominated many large providers in recent years. Today, most provider technology innovation is cloud-centric, with the stated intent of retrofitting the technology to on premises.”

Sweeping predictions don’t often come true, but some aspects of this prediction are mostly true now, and will continue to be true in 2020. For example:

  • As we pointed out here, public cloud platforms currently account for most R&D spending. Enterprises see fewer updates and fixes to traditional on-premises software, and thus see the writing on the wall. Platforms that lack the love from technology providers will not be enterprise capable much longer.
  • The cost of cloud computing, although not as cheap as advertised, is typically less than owning your own hardware, software, and data center. When you include the value of agility and expandability that are all on demand, the cloud computing value quickly increases.
  • Traditional enterprise IT wants to focus in one direction at a time. It was the PC and client/server back in the 80s, then the web, SOA, purpose-built databases, and no cloud. IT constantly evolves; however, cloud computing is the most sweeping change that will happen in our careers. 

So, if cloud is the direction, and most enterprises are now all-in with cloud, and “cloud only” policies beginning to emerge, is that a good thing?

I’m not sure it is, even though I’m a cloud computing blogger, a cloud subject matter expert, and consultant. I worry when I see organizations that are so myopic when it comes to any technology solutions, that they are all-in one way or the other. That often means it’s a “management by magazine” situation, dependent upon what the tech press says rather than the actual needs of the organization. 

The reality is much more boring. We start with workloads that are already on traditional systems, meaning systems on premises. Moving them to the public cloud should serve some business purpose. The business purpose should be considered and qualified for all existing and net-new applications. From there you pick the platform, cloud or not. “Cloud only” means you’ll only make mistakes some of the time. Instead, let’s try for zero platforming errors. That’s a better goal. 


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