CIOs Fighting Cloud Gravity

CIOs Fighting Cloud Gravity

CIOs keep trying to defy cloud gravity

Fighting the Cloud Gravity

A new Brocade survey shows 83% of enterprises are shaking their fists at unauthorised cloud adoption (not consented by the CIO Office) within the business, the reality is, “Not using cloud is just like fighting gravity and bound to fail.” CIOs that are gate keepers will be the ones that fight ‘shadow IT’ the most.

“We are seeing departments within the business vote with their feet,” driven by the marketing leaders, and those feet are sprinting to the public cloud. Why? Well because “The business wants to play with technology that makes their life easier.” The CIO Office needs to stop being ‘the technology gatekeeper’ and become the digital enabler.

In other words, the public cloud dominates because it’s so much more convenient to get access to. Until CIOs can wrangle that same level of convenience into their own internal data centres (and private clouds), they’re going to be fighting gravity.

A new survey suggests CIOs still want to control the cloud, which is a bit like “fighting gravity,” according to AWS.

You’ve got to feel sorry for IT. Once the undisputed sovereign of the enterprise, lines of business often route around IT today to get stuff done. Their favourite accomplice? Cloud.

Indeed, while a new Brocade survey shows 83% of enterprises shaking their fists at unauthorised cloud adoption, the reality is, as Amazon Web Services (AWS) executive Glenn Core posts, “Not using cloud is just like fighting gravity.”    Doomed to fail.

Defying gravity

Redmonk analyst Stephen O’Grady once declared that “Convenience trumps just about everything” when it comes to cloud adoption. Small wonder, then, that developers tell Forrester they’re turning to cloud primarily because it’s “the fastest way for me to get things done.”


If anything, the preference for speed has accelerated since this survey was conducted. However, not everyone is happy about such IT-evading adoption.

Yes, according to a new Brocade survey of 200 global CIOs, 90% of the enterprises surveyed have cloud of some kind in place, but 83% of them also acknowledge unauthorised cloud adoption. This is despite a third of these businesses not allowing cloud adoption without IT approval.     Oops.

Of course, that same survey indicates that CIOs were more concerned with security than big data, so it didn’t seem to be tapping into the avant-garde of innovation. Or maybe they’re just concerned about having to take the blame when something goes wrong.

As Yarob Sakhnini, regional director, MEMA at Brocade, notes, unauthorised cloud adopters “are happy to circumvent IT so long as everything works. But chances are as soon as the performance and availability of these shadow IT services don’t meet expectations, it will be the CIOs who will get asked the hard questions.”

It’s a fair point. But it may simply not matter.

The irresistible force

After all, 83% of those enterprises don’t seem to care what their CIOs think. They just want to get stuff done and clearly see IT as more of a roadblock than an enabler. This needn’t be the case.

While projects originating within the line of business are on the rise, it’s still the case that most enterprises are finding ways for IT to play a key role in technology adoption.

They’d better. Cloud–and particularly public cloud–isn’t something that is going to wait on IT.

As AWS head of infrastructure, APAC Gore proclaims:

“Cloud is becoming the new normal, and not using cloud is just like fighting gravity. It is inevitable…. If you are not using it or looking at where it fits on your own strategy, you run the risk of being overtaken by others using the platform to increase their agility and scale…. The cloud is becoming the default position of customers looking to build new applications and services.”

Gore’s contention is backed up by Gartner analyst Thomas Bittman’s research, who finds that public cloud VMs have exploded by 20X, while private cloud VMs have grown just 3X during the same period. As he concludes, “New stuff tends to go to the public cloud, while doing old stuff in new ways tends to go to private clouds. And new stuff is simply growing faster.”

IT would love for things to be different and to have more control of its infrastructure. Hence, the constant drumbeat for private clouds.

This is one reason there’s so much interest–if lagging deployments–for OpenStack. Indeed, in a conversation with Mirantis CMO Boris Renski, he believes that “OpenStack [is] a datacentre operating system, not a VM orchestration engine,” one that gives operators or enterprises control over their clouds.

Maybe. Maybe not.

Because as much as we may want to talk about OpenStack adoption, the reality is that “We are seeing people vote with their feet,” as Gore points out, and those feet are sprinting to the public cloud. Why? Because “They want to play with technology that makes their life easier.”

In other words, the public cloud dominates because it’s so much more convenient. Until CIOs can wrangle that same level of convenience into their data centres (and private clouds), they’re going to be fighting gravity.

IT-as-a-roadblock must come to an end

IT-as-a-roadblock must come to an end

The era of IT-as-a-roadblock must come to an end right now


The CIO of Yester Year

As other business leaders are growing more aware of technology in the digital age of the 2020’s, it is my view that CIOs too need to invest time in being a business leader, by immersing in and speaking the language of marketing, operations and finance. Gone are the days of the IT Departmental ‘Ivory Tower’ being the technology gatekeeper. CIOs need to be business enablers using technology to grow business and drive revenue which in turn will prevent ‘Shadow IT’ proliferation.

IT must stop being a passive observer and actually deliver what the business needs

“Countless years exposure with the CIO layer has convinced me that many CIOs even now in the digital twenty twenties need broader business experience than has typically been required in the past – more commercial business acumen than the typical deep technical expertise of the past,” states Craig Ashmole, Founding Partner of London Based IT Consultancy, CCServe Limited.

A recent article I saw on TechRepublic asked the question “Does anyone still want to be CIO?” Among other things it highlighted the growing trend of tech savvy people (or at least people who believe they are tech savvy) occupying other C-level positions, and makes the argument that technically-oriented IT leadership is dead, which I partly agree with in the format often seen today.

However, this does not mean the CIO or for that matter IT leadership in general is destined for the same demise.

As other leaders are growing more aware of technology in the digital age, it is my belief that CIOs need to also invest, immerse in and speak the language of marketing, operations and finance. It is through this cross-pollination of competing skills and professions that an IT leader can have the most impact.

We talk business alignment and business driven priorities but in my experience IT leaders fail at truly understanding these needs and requirements. It is that old order taker-mentality: to some extent not only is there a failure to understand, it appears in many cases it is by design for fear of moving out of ones comfort zones.

A CIO success should be tied to delivering more value than a CMO or a COO by both intimately understanding the business ‘problem‘ and then traversing the technology required to deliver a solution to that problem. The ‘problem‘ focused at growth of business revenue or market share.

“We do not have enough good leaders, we do not have enough CIO trend setters that will take a chance for the sake of their business and the sake of themselves and it is ruining it for the rest of us, especially those who believe that the CIO should be a commercial business leader with a technology flair”, Craig Ashmole stated passionately.

If CIOs want to be passive observers of their organisational priorities and marginalise themselves then they have no right to complain about why they are not given their due share of respect at the executive table. This attitude both confounds me and infuriates me. Bad leaders shift accountability to others and in so doing also dilute their power base. Good leaders take charge and take on innovation and creativity as a badge to wear everywhere. The CIO role has to transform or be transformed into insignificance.

If you see a leader or are managed by one that tries to justify IT-as-a-Roadblock (IaaR) by way of process or methodology and whom promotes the “that isn’t our job mentality” then say something because it is these leaders that are from a bygone era and whom should not have a place in modern IT organisations.

“As technology leaders we need to think strategically, act tactically, drive methodically, while delivering technically“, Craig Ashmole recommends. “If we do this we will provide more value than any other C-level position because we would — understand what needs to be done, — can demonstrate the courage to do it, — and use our experience to do it technically right.”