Wednesday, August 01, 2012
The skies over Las Vegas were appropriately overcast Tuesday morning as the media/analyst panel discussion “Cutting through the Fog of the Cloud” commenced at CompTIA’s Breakaway 2012.
Rain in Vegas is an anomaly any time of year, but showers in late July are especially rare. An occasional sun shower is not out of the ordinary during the summer in the valley. But given the desert conditions and the blaring sun that regularly delivers temps above 100 degrees, the raindrops typically sizzle and disappear in a few minutes.
Not today. As I took my morning walk and meditated on my job as moderator of the panel, not a ray of the rising sun cut through the cloud cover. And predawn raindrops still speckled everything that could not absorb them – metal railings, glass windows. I took particular note of this oddity in Sin City because of the topic and theme of the panel later that morning. It struck me that the current cloud computing market is a bit like an overcast summer day in Vegas. Definitely gets your attention. And you start asking yourself questions: Is this normal? Did I miss something the other dozen times I have been in Vegas during July and August?
IT solution providers could be feeling the same way. So much hype has spun around cloud computing during the last few years, they could be asking: Is this the new normal? Is every solution going to the cloud? If my firm doesn’t whip together some cloud services – and soon – are we missing something?
Four veteran tech journalists explored these questions with the crowd of about 75 solution providers. The talk was provocative and reassuring at the same time.
Caron Carlson, editor of FierceCIO, told the crowd that chief tech officers are wearying of the pace of change in the Cloud realm and want to remain flexible in their agreements with providers. Just because the cloud offers some simplicity -- reduces some costs, offers flexible deployment and a rapid scalability – doesn’t mean the requirements of their enterprises have become any less complex. CIOs are leery of being “locked in” to service contracts in a field as dynamic as cloud computing.
Joe McKendrick, an author, speaker, IT researcher and contributor to the Forbes.com blog, offered the audience some solace. Despite understandable caution among executives, he said he see a great deal of excitement among corporate IT departments. Jobs are changing on the IT teams inside big companies, and companies are investing in training and education – and not just cloud-related skills. He sees corporations sending IT workers to class to learn more business skills, so they can help other managers better achieve an organization’s goals through technology. Insurance companies, for example, aren’t trying to become better technology companies through cloud training, said McKendrick, they are trying to become better insurance companies.
Greg Gillespie, editor-in-chief, Health Data Management magazine, gave attendees some heartening direction when he said many healthcare businesses need “personal relationships” with IT solutions providers on a “small scale. Gillespie said the healthcare information technology market can be intimidating for IT folk trying to break into the fray, with the industry’s complex regulatory requirements and natural risk aversion. But many growing healthcare sectors, such as long-term care, in-home care and hospice care, are like the big businesses McKendrick described: They are not interested in becoming technically adept as much as they want to be able to use the advantages of cloud services to enable greater focus on their missions of care.
Larry Walsh, prognosticator for the blog ChannelNomics and principal of the 2112 Group, challenged the IT business owners in the room to take a new approach to the cloud – and the IT channel as a whole. Walsh said the value of training and education for the IT channel is not as a differentiator of services; it should be an enabler. Indulge your vision, he encouraged the crowd, and invest in new services, rather than resell products.