Why cloud spells the end of the IT department…as we know it
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Why cloud spells the end of the IT department…as we know it

Jim Mortleman — July 2014
Correy Voo, president of cloud adoption group ODCA and infrastructure services CTO at UBS, argues that cloud makes it uneconomical for IT functions to continue to develop their own solutions.

“I don’t believe that in two or three years’ time we’ll have any option other than cloud. Resistance is futile; moving to the cloud is a necessity, not an option.”

Correy Voo, president of the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA), the consortium of IT users working with suppliers to speed the migration to cloud services, is predicting a rapid and universal switch to the new world of cloud IT, and a radical reshaping of the IT function as a result. But, warns Voo, who is also infrastructure CTO at Swiss bank UBS, companies need to be circumspect about trying to retrofit all of their legacy applications into cloud environments.

While the holy grail of true ‘utility computing’ may still not be realizable, he believes it is coming ever closer. “We will reach a point where cloud services will be cheap, simple and truly pay-as-you-use. And it's important to get your head around that commercially,” he says.

The change will make it uneconomical and uncompetitive for IT functions to continue to develop their own solutions, he argues. “Today we’re engineering shops — we build rather than buy. In the future, we will buy not build. That means most enterprise technology organizations need to transform [themselves] into service brokers and configurators,” says Voo, whose fellow-ODCA members are drawn from such blue-chip companies as BMW, Marriott, Lockheed Martin, Disney and National Australia Bank.

“Don’t try to make a legacy application fit into a cloud context. In a lot of cases that won’t work and your organization will become negative about cloud.”

However, companies must recognize that they can’t assess the cloud in terms of their established models of operational IT. “The cloud model is fundamentally different from traditional IT, both in terms of how services are delivered and their underlying architecture,” he says. “When building business cases, trying to compare apples with apples is an impossible task. If you attempt to replicate everything that you have in the old world as cloud services, you’ll end up with a model where it seems more economical to keep things in-house. You have to avoid that trap and look instead at how cloud can improve productivity and speed time to market.”

Voo acknowledges that for many traditional organizations the transition will have to be in ‘baby steps.’ “Enterprises like mine have spent 50 years building a technology base and we’re not going to give that up overnight. So write a cloud application to be a cloud application,” he counsels, “but don’t try to lift a legacy application and make it fit into a cloud context. In a lot of cases that just won't work. Projects will fail, expectations won’t be met and your [business users] will become negative about any move to cloud.”

Nonetheless, legacy systems will eventually reach the end of their useful lifespan, so the cloud model will come to dominate. “As we continue to drive standardization and simplification across our businesses, cloud will become the default choice for delivering those values,” he said. “The new generation of IT professionals is not going to accept the traditional legacy constraints that my generation has operated with for so long. If they don’t like something, they’ll figure out a better way of doing it in the cloud. And that’s only going to get easier.”

• Correy Voo was speaking at Cloud World Forum in London
First published August 2014
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