Unmasking Agility: Cloud Reality or Myth of Marketing Hype?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Rafal Los


One of the big things the cloud promises us is this thing called agility.  

Agility basically means the ability to respond faster to changing business needs with IT services and support.  

What does that really mean in a world of DevOps, continuous release and digital business models as they collide with traditional business strategies?

Agility, from the perspective we're taking, is an ability of the IT department to provide services that adapt to the changing needs of your organization faster than before, with on-premise servers, systems and staff.  Increasing your business' agility means that IT has done something to contribute to a business being able to turn faster when climates change.  

Whether that means scaling up to keep up with increased online demand for a catalog, or beating your competitor to market with a competitive product because your organization didn't have to waste a month trying to get servers, build them to specification, and add bandwidth capacity to your data center - the business win based on IT delivery is a great demonstration of agility.

Let's look a tale of two companies, for an example...

The "old IT" way:

One of your product managers, Mike,  has an idea.  Mike drafts up a business plan, including resources needed and costs and takes it to the NPI (new product introduction) board for review.  The board meets bi-weekly so he has to wait a full week, and then during the call he has to argue his case with five other projects which want to get ahead of him for the limited IT resources at the company's disposal.

Through a bit of bad luck, and Mike's inability to fully explain his idea, his project gets pushed to the middle of the queue, which means he will get a crack at budget for the next quarter.  In the meantime, his company's competitors release a product based on a similar idea and it's wildly successful... now Mike has to play catch-up.

The "agile cloud IT" way:

Sandra works for a company that has adopted a public cloud for all of their NPI prototyping.  Rather than spending internal IT resources and build time on ideas that are unproven, they push these ideas to a public cloud to see whether they'll work, and if so, they can leverage the instant scale, added security, agility of that public cloud.  Sandra writes up her NPI project plan and presents it to the NPI board on much the same time-scale.  

Where Sandra deviates from Mike is that even though her idea isn't wildly successful with the board, she gets a small pool of money and resources to prototype the idea in a public cloud service where the only costs of failure are some spent dollars on compute resources and developer time.  Her project is up and going in a month's time, and she's the competitor that beats Mike to the market.  Her company demonstrates increased agility over Mike's.

Personally I've never met anyone who would say that improved agility in IT would be a bad thing, or something that wouldn't be welcomed in their organization - but I'm left wondering just how many organizations that buy into cloud computing for the purpose of improving their business agility ever actually get there.

To that end, our team put our collective brainpower together and thought that we should try and figure out just how attainable agility is when adopting cloud computing.  We're running a short survey... it's 3 simple questions that will help us figure out whether reaching new, unparalleled levels of business agility through improved IT is a reality or whether it's just marketing hype.  

So we'd like to urge you to go take this very brief survey, share it with your colleagues and friends... and let's see whether agility is real or a myth.

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SMZZKW2

Cross-posted from Following the White Rabbit

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