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Why Public and Private Cloud are Making ELA a Four-Letter Word

As I speak to IT executives across the country, a common theme I often hear is the urgency among enterprise IT organizations to rationalize, leverage, and optimize the use of public and private cloud capabilities. Whether it’s viewed as a utility or a catalyst to DevOps transformation, cloud is a disruptor to the traditional IT mode of operation.

Public Cloud Exposes Technical Debt

Public cloud is bringing sharp relief to the enormous technical debt that large traditional IT organizations are carrying. After over a decade of commoditization, optimization, and outsourcing of both operational assets and talent, many IT organizations are being caught flat-footed by the disruptive way in which public cloud has “democratized” computing. Application development or business resources can bypass corporate IT by procuring, virtually, immediate resources from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Compute Engine with the swipe of a credit card. This easy access to what can be a perceived as a superior service experience drives business stakeholders to question the need for the rapidly antiquated legacy services corporate IT is providing.

As I continue to engage in public, hybrid, and multi-cloud strategies with clients, I often hear a common refrain. Time and time again within large organizations, efforts to prototype and adopt emerging public and private cloud technology has been held back by an institutional resistance to do things differently. In particular, continued reliance on existing legacy vendors that fail to innovate and rely solely on institutionalized Enterprise License Agreements (ELAs) has hampered the ability to adopt emerging best-in-class technology. A failure to invest in technology as it emerges also costs an organization the opportunity to develop the competencies and skill sets that come with those investments. Whether the conversation is about adoption of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Software as a Service (SaaS), stakeholders are traditionally and repeatedly steered toward sub-optimal solutions. As a result, entire waves of innovation and adoption have passed them by, making the services they offer to the business appear antiquated and expensive (a very bad combination).

Forge_Graphic_Tim_C.jpgThis technical debt and skill gap in many large IT organizations often drive “greenfield” adoption of cloud automation and engineering, in part because it breaks the hold that past norms and supplier management has historically exerted over IT innovation. The move to greenfield cloud adoption often opens a floodgate of other innovation. Cloud-based enterprise service management, application management, application configuration management and automation platforms often also become part of the new and improved operating environment.

Challenging the Status Quo

When considering adoption of the public cloud, leverage the opportunity to get out from under technical debt. Don’t treat the public cloud as a low cost utility, but focus on the transformative benefits of faster time to value, agility, elasticity, and automation. Don’t assume that traditional vendors or preferred suppliers have all the answers and don’t allow outsourced procurement companies to play any significant role in the solution.

By challenging the status quo, corporate IT may just ensure it remains relevant to the business through cloud transformation. In the race to “get to the cloud”, the largest hurdle might be within the four walls of the IT organization.

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