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BLOG: How IT can learn to stop worrying and love the cloud

Andrew C. Oliver | July 12, 2013
PaaS speeds dev times and lowers risk for new apps — so why does so much IT bureaucracy stand in the way?

Core IT's problem with the cloud
Let's face it: Core IT's major problem with PaaS isn't security or maturity or anything like that. It's control — and control is often a euphemism for job security. You can't sell PaaS with a pitch like "you won't have to stand around installing server stacks by hand anymore" to the guys who make a living by installing server stacks.

There are also some very legitimate objections. Core IT's job is to protect the business or, more particularly, its data and identity. The last thing anyone wants is a sprawl of PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS that doesn't integrate or has a separate authentication scheme — and core IT gets stuck maintaining.

The conservative bureaucracy that's grown up around IT isn't driving PaaS adoption. Many CIOs that I've talked to believe it is the future, but at the same time seem to feel that "stewardship" is about slowing adoption to a crawl.

Who's driving adoption?
I asked Sacha who he saw driving adoption. Largely it's sales and marketing, the folks most connected with customers, who feel the need to get something out fast. This tends to produce shadow IT, where an empowered business unit line manager and team of developers buy a PaaS subscription on their company credit card and ask core IT for forgiveness later. To some degree, this is how open source was adopted, but for vendors like CloudBees, it's a business opportunity.

Sacha and I spoke about the pricing model: "If you think about it, with open source and with Salesforce.com, it was all the same. You want the friction to be as small as possible. You don't want to have to talk to anybody. You just want to try it and get started and fly under the radar, and that's still how things happen for the most part."

Atlassian was known to have priced its popular issue tracker, Jira, in the early stages by keeping the unit cost (be it monthly or for a few seats of a private install) at what a line manager could throw on a credit card without getting any kind of pre-approval. This results in a short sales cycle that avoids the necessities of selling core IT, getting board approval, or incurring any of the nightmarish issues caused by larger deals. Smaller vendors like Cloudbees can play in this midmarket, where customers tend to be startups and other smaller companies, as well as larger companies with special projects on the sales and marketing side.

Sacha is looking forward to the end game: "Once people have committed to it and see interest, what you typically see is they're going to sell this solution inside their company and try to make it more formal. That's kind of the coming out, if you will, where they say, 'Well, we've tried this service for a while. You know what? It's pretty good. We should definitely look at it more seriously and see whether we could expand usage.' That's when typically the move away from credit cards takes place."

 

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