iStock_000023488582XSmall-300x198One of reasons that I love consulting and love attending events where I meet with end users is that I get to “keep it real” by seeing what’s really happening out in the real world as opposed to what analysts think should be happening in the data center and across the IT spectrum.  To listen to some of the typical tech media, one would think that everyone is now running their data centers inside public clouds or hybrid clouds and that the IT group is now completely focused on accelerating the business and technology issues are a thing of the past.

Everyone, that is, except you.  As you read these reports, you may walk away believing that you’re the only shop left still running all on-premises and without full data center automation and without any kind of converged infrastructure.

So you don’t have any plans in place to move to the cloud.  You don’t have any plans in place to move to converged infrastructure.  You barely have the time and resources to meet existing expectations, let alone try to change the status quo and automate your own work.  You’re far from alone.  As I discussed with a number of IT practitioners this week, there are a myriad of obstacles holding organizations back from jumping on some of the current technology trends.

  • Bandwidth.  This is one that many may question since bandwidth is easy to get in many places these days, but, in reality, there are any number of organizations that are still challenged when it comes to getting bandwidth that is affordable, reliable, and provides sufficient speed.  While the situation is improving, until the bandwidth playing field becomes more level, some organizations will simply be unable to leverage cloud services.
  • Budget.  Change requires some kind of resourcing in order to happen.  In many places, IT budgets remain extremely tight and there is a fear of upsetting the delicate balance that has been achieved.  These organizations may be risk-adverse or may truly not have the funds necessary to properly test new services.
  • Time.  Another critical resource is staff time.  Organizations don’t simply wake up one day and declare that they are moving to the cloud with no planning.  Many IT departments continue to struggle to simply keep pace with current demands, let alone consider new ones.
  • Need.  “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” is a common refrain in many places.  If there is no perceived need, organizations will simply remain with the status quo.
  • Perception of hype.  Even with what we’re seeing in the market today, “cloud” still suffers from the ridiculous hype that has been generated in recent years.  There remain IT pros skeptical that the cloud will remain a viable option and they see it as just another passing fad.  In fact, I was even asked, “When will the cloud go away?” by one attendee at a conference.  I indicated that I didn’t believe it was going anywhere and that, this time, the trend is real.
  • Security.  Security is a legitimate concern for many, particularly those that live under heavy regulation or hold a lot of sensitive information.
  • Job security.  There is still major concern from IT pros that moving to the cloud will require a change in skill set and may even mean the loss of a job as the company no longer needs particular skills.  The unfortunate fact is that this is probably true to an extent.
  • Understanding of the trend.  Although a lot is written about many of today’s trends, it seems that rank and file IT staff aren’t able to stay as current as many would like and may not have the knowledge necessary to make an informed judgment call on whether or not a particular trend or service is worth investigating.

Even with all of these roadblocks, I remain convinced that CIOs and IT leaders across the board should find ways to at least look at emerging trends to determine if there is a business opportunity to be had.  It will require some new ways of thinking and may require a redefinition of some skills, but there is an opportunity for IT to move into the role of “trusted services broker” rather than simply a “cost center” in the organization.  Even in a broker model, the IT group will still need technical skills to assess new solutions and integrate them into the organization’s systems, so technical skills will not all go away.

I do worry a bit about IT organizations that can’t get out of the quagmire in order to become more business-focused and what that could mean for the future of the IT profession.  One way or another, businesses are going to meet the demands that they have and the question will remain, “Can IT do it or do we need to go outside?”