Thunderclouds - Not all Clouds are Light and Fluffy

This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.
One of the few things I remember from my primary education was the study of clouds. Perhaps it was because we got to go outside rather than sitting in a stuffy classroom.

We learned about cirrus and stratus clouds, those light, fluffy types of clouds usually depicted in pastoral scenes, presenting a view that the day was beautiful and all was well with the world. Coincidentally, these are the types of clouds often used as a graphic to support blog posts on cloud computing - sending the message that all is well with the (cloud) world.

But there is a dark side to this story. We also learned about cumulonimbus clouds. Those are the towering, dark, imposing clouds that are usually accompanied by rain, thunder and lightning. Pilots avoid these imposing pillars because they are dangerous.  In the cloud computing space, you could look at service outages (think Amazon), security breaches, loss of data through bad practices, etc. as the cumulonimbus of cloud computing.

Cloud computing is here.  While it is an emerging technology now, it will be mainstream soon. (The notch toward mainstream moved a significant amount with Apple's announcement of iCloud. While they didn't invent it, they are masters of making people aware of things.)

As an IT leader, the worst cloud strategy you can have is no cloud strategy. The way you deliver IT products and services is changing, and it likely involves the cloud.

Back to our metaphor. Your role is more like the pilot's than the ticket agent that got you on the airplane.

You are responsible for the safety and integrity of your organizations data and information, and have learned to identify the dangers (storm clouds), but ultimately you do it while getting your passengers to their destination. In the background, you (the IT department) are responsible for operating withing all regulations (compliance and reporting) People don't buy a ticket for an airplane ride, they buy a ticket to get to a destination. If you don't help your passengers (your organization) get to their destination, they will find another airline (IT leader) who will get them there.

The "Cloud" offers some remarkable tools and capabilities for the IT leader today.  But keep in mind there are dangers. But don't let that stop you, or you will be mired in irrelevance. (For some reason I'm thinking train travel here - it was once a mainstream, high tech way for people to get to fixed destinations).

So excuse me while I go outside, and check out the sky.


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