IT and users could have a cloud perception gap

Posted by Ron Miller on Apr 24, 2014 2:13:00 PM

3368619008_ddcfe629ea_oWhen it comes to cloud computing, IT sees it differently from end users and business units, according to R Ray Wang, founder at Constellation Research.

He says the different views have created a dichotomy, which can result in communications issues as each party sees the cloud through their own unique usage lens.

Wang says for IT, the cloud is all about infrastructure provisioning.

"IT sees the cloud as a way to drive infrastructure costs and consolidate landscapes. Cloud means no more hardware purchases, installation, large data centers, etc," Wang said.

And when IT is relieved of the burden of data center management, they can change their focus from the old style of racking and stacking, patching and managing, to a more strategic view of the company. They can become helpers and partners.

Business units might not see the cloud the same way though, says Wang. They see it as a way to choose software independently, and that can create tension between the two.

"For line of business executives, the cloud is all about freedom from IT and the ability to make their own decisions, hence the dichotomy," Wang explained.

This was clear in the Avanade survey we wrote about last week, as 71 percent of respondents believed they were able to make technology decisions better or faster themselves without IT, which suggests they believe IT was just slowing them down.

With that in mind, as this change happens across organizations, Wang says it's up to the CIO to provide leadership around the IT department's shfting role and help IT pros make that transition from dictating policy to being a partner in establishing good governance around this ability to provision more freely.

Wang said this means transitioning to the role of business partner and helping the business units make better technology decisions. While business units just want tools that work for them and what they are trying to accomplish, IT can help make sure that whatever tools they use, they play nicely with their on-premises systems and comply with whatever guidelines they have set up.

This takes a change in mindset from both parties. Business units need to confer with IT and IT needs to take on this partner role. Both sides have to develop a level of trust for this to work, and IT has to be open to new ways of doing work that might be radically different from what they are used to.

Clearly a carte blanche system where business units can provision whatever they like is probably going to run into problems, but if IT can establish clear and sensible guidelines and look for ways to help make the technology work in the context of the company's goals and requirements, you can find common ground. And if that happens, everybody wins, regardless of how they see the cloud.

Photo by Dreamfish on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.