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Cloud Businesses IT

Why Businesses Move To the Cloud: They Hate IT 538

jfruhlinger writes "Cloud services can be unreliable and pricey, and they often duplicate capabilities larger companies already have in-house. So why do many managers within organizations use them? Partly because they don't want to deal with their own company's IT department. Getting a big project started is often such a politically fraught process that for many managers it's easier to simply write a check."
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Why Businesses Move To the Cloud: They Hate IT

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  • Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RMH101 ( 636144 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:05AM (#36473868)
    Guess what? No-one wants to deal with a department. They have business objectives they want to be able to achieve, and they want to pay for someone to deliver those as painlessly as possible, at the lowest cost possible. This is why they probably founded an IT Department. If that department is too slow or sluggish to deliver, they'll go elsewhere..."The Cloud" just offers them the chance to get what they want at a predictable, fixed cost...
    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:11AM (#36473958)

      So they'll "write a check" for the "cloud" service, but we are expected to provide whatever they want for free. I don't have a magic room where I keep equipment (and people) that I can pull out at the drop of a hat. Resources cost money, but they do not want to pay fr them wen the resources are internal, but can always find money to hire outsiders.

      • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:29AM (#36474208)

        Congrats! You've pretty much illustrated exactly what this article is about!

        Think of yourself in terms of having a customer and your competition is the cloud. Do you think the "cloud" provider is rude and surly? Do you think that they push back and make it seem like this whole idea is putting them out and making their life harder? I'm pretty sure they cheerfully offer services and then negotiate a price. Might even buy you dinner.

        • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:37AM (#36474312) Journal


          OTOH, who usually cleans up any messes that happens with it? Who gets blamed if the cloud provider has an outage?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by cgeys ( 2240696 )
            The cloud service does, if you have SLA like you should.

            But what comes to the article, I don't think it's just because everyone hates the deal with other departments. Some departments are nicer to deal with and some not. If you see what IT people say and do and how even we talk here on slashdot it might not be a surprise that we are not very pleasant people to deal with. It's something we as geeks should definitely try to improve. The common mindset seems to be "how could this idiot not know this??", whil
        • Typically that's called unfair competition, it's where you're using company resources to compete against the company. The basic difference is that with the cloud, they don't get to bully the provider to provide the work for free. It costs a certain amount and no amount of bullying is going to change that. As opposed to doing it in house, where the same resources get allocated to nearly everything whether or not that's realistic.

          This is just another interation of incompetent business management. There are ca

          • incompetent business management

            held to account for security breeches

            Incompetent business solution #1: Issue a pair of security breeches to every employee.

          • Re:Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

            by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @02:24PM (#36477924)

            There are cases where the cloud is a good choice or the right choice, but this just smacks of incompetent management.

            You said it all in a nice little sentence.

            We looked at the Cloud (I hate saying that word, it's misunderstood) with EC2 and we found that it was actually cheaper in the long run to make a financial investment in equipment to do it at our own data center. We have the expertise to have a fully virtualized group of servers that we can manage and with live migration have any technical issues mitigated with the bare machines themselves. After that it was just a matter of writing the service software to load balance itself out among all the servers in the group and a kind of command and control that keeps track of all servers entering and exiting the "Cloud".

            All of that was actually cheaper than EC2 with the same specs.

            However, it required a much higher upfront cost. So maybe it is not that the managers hate IT or anything (which is entirely possible) but that when the CTO comes in and tells the other executives in a meeting that it will take a week or two and a $100k investment in equipment and somebody brings up that they could just start paying a couple thousand a month to Amazon instead...... the CTO is basically told that the investment is not going to happen and make it work with Amazon EC2.... even after he explains that the long run costs are actually much higher.

            It's the same disease that is destroying America. Short term thinking and short term profits for the executives, because that is what gets them the bonuses and all the fun fun happy happy time they get to have with all that extra money.

            Amazon EC2 is fine and all, but you can use that as a backup, or a way to scale really quickly if needed. Anybody fooling themselves into thinking the Cloud is more financially efficient over the long run is just not doing the math. Amazon has to make a profit... so... yeah it will cost you more. Try getting a quote for what it actually costs with EC2 to create a group of virtual servers that are in different "availability zones" so that if part of Amazon goes down on the East Coast (Lulzsec having a party) that you are not actually impacted. The costs are more than one thinks to have all the really cool and valuable services that Amazon can give you. For plain vanilla that price is always cheaper. Reminds me a of Mexican fast food type joint around here. The "basic" quesadilla is $1.99. After adding some stuff to it they are $7 a piece.

            I seem to remember Amazon recently having a major issue where all that amazing and expensive load balancing and redundancy across availability zones didn't actually work as expected..... and I can imagine how pissed off and disappointing the event was to the CTOs of the impacted companies. Sure they can explain that Amazon screwed up... but how many people here on Slashdot want to bet dollars to donuts that one of the executives didn't say, "Well why did you not have a plan for that?".

            It's basically a lease on equipment. Too many Americans completely lack the ability to determine over time how much more the lease would have cost you versus a straight purchase.

            To those executives, why the hell do they care? Most of them are already have the resumes on a nice heavy stock paper, golden parachutes, and exit plans from every building they step into.

            Most IT people don't think anywhere near the same way. They don't hate us exactly, we just don't fit in with their culture.

      • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

        by haystor ( 102186 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:35AM (#36474284)

        All too often provisioning a new server costs weeks of paperwork and a ton of man hours from both IT and the business dept. Or, they can clone a new server in 30 minutes. There is no simliar service offered by IT, especially at big companies.

        IT may have rules and procedures in place for good reasons, but all too often those rules are followed in a passive aggressive manner to put IT in control of business, instead of the other way around. Requests must be submitted with the hope of them being granted. Departments should be stating business cases and needs and IT should be helping figure out how they can help accomplish these. Frequently, this is not how it works.

        Too many places, a request is made and IT denies it, telling the user they don't need what they're asking for. No research, no effort given, just a flat, automatic "no." I had a virus scanner fighting with my build, preventing the build from getting done. While our dept. is getting billed by IT for things, they refused to do anything at all about our new inability to build our main program. They had their rules that allowed them to say "no" and leave it at that. So here we are getting billed (internally) for IT support and being treated like no company in the world would treat a client. That is why departments move to the cloud.

        The stories from developers fighting with IT are endless and all of them are countered by the same basic fear card and the general statement that users are idiots. In my two years at AT&T, I probably had firewall exceptions turned off a dozen times. They didn't keep their record keeping straight and couldn't justify a port being open between two computers so they shut it down. They didn't notify anyone at all, they just close a port. It would take 30 seconds to look up the paper trail on firewall exceptions and call/email the owner. There is a general arrogance that we are on "their" systems and not that they are managing "our" systems.

        • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:52AM (#36474526)

          IT may have rules and procedures in place for good reasons, but all too often those rules are followed in a passive aggressive manner to put IT in control of business, instead of the other way around.

          You say that now. Then the Department Manager of your department, or the VP of Asshattery, gets caught doing various illegal things from his work desktop and IT gets word from on high to either (a) "cooperate fully" with a police investigation, (b) figure out how to hide it so it doesn't get to a police investigation, or (c) do some combination of (a) and (b) that may or may not be legal.

          Departments should be stating business cases and needs and IT should be helping figure out how they can help accomplish these. Frequently, this is not how it works.

          Everywhere I have worked, the process has gone line this:
          - Department states business case. Part of the time, business case involves a complete lack of understanding of how the technology currently owned/operated by the company works. Part of the time, business case involves unrealistic assumptions like "it'll only take a couple days to move us from our current server environment to a completely different architecture." Part of the time, business case is actually reasonable.

          - IT then figures out (a) what needs to be done to make it happen, (b) whether it can be done in a time-effective manner given the existing IT workload and available staff, (c) what it will cost to temp or outsource it if not. Sometimes there is also (d), whether the new toy the fuckwit VP du jour has purchased on company funds even does what he thinks it will do and how the FUCK to integrate it into the existing network.

          The stories from developers fighting with IT are endless and all of them are countered by the same basic fear card and the general statement that users are idiots.

          That's because for every story like yours, there are a dozen or more fuckwits like this [] or morons like this [] that the IT department has to contend with.

          There is a general arrogance that we are on "their" systems and not that they are managing "our" systems.

          And what you fail to consider is that "they" are caught between you, the user, and the weight of the company heads screaming the usual, contradictory priorities:

          #1 Priority - "Just make everything work."
          #1 Priority - "Keep everything safe."
          #1 Priority - "Give the users what they want."
          #1 Priority - "Protect the network from rogue users doing bad things."
          #1 Priority - "Make the VP's latest toy cell phone plug in to everything."

          Nothing that comes from "on high" for IT is ever not a "#1 Priority." IT is one of the most thankless tasks in existence. If everything is running well, people forget they exist. If something breaks or has to be taken offline for maintenance, someone is inevitably screaming bloody hell. Then they have to deal with mobile devices, 18 gazillion models of phone that everyone wants to hook in to company email, traveling flash drives that are a danger vector for worms coming in and corporate espionage going out...

          Try putting yourself in their shoes once in a while. IT aren't the bad guys. They're stuck in a terrible position, under PHB's that make your department's PHB look like an utter genius by comparison, and your PHB is the guy who once took a week sick off of work after accidentally supergluing his hand to the family cat.

          • Re:Duh (Score:4, Interesting)

            by unimacs ( 597299 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @01:59PM (#36477556)
            "blah blah blah fuckwit VP du jour blah blah blah "

            I run a small IT department. A lot of people don't understand the ins and outs of our jobs, any more than we understand all the accounting rules or HR policies. For some reason though IT people can be unbelievably condescending when it comes to our area of expertise.

            I overheard one of our support staff telling a Mac developer that he couldn't have admin rights to his Mac because we needed to "protect him from himself". This from a guy who has a tiny fraction of experience maintaining Macs compared to the developer he was talking to.

            Let's just say I had a few words with that member of our support staff about how not to talk to our users. Further I instructed everyone that the phrase "protect you from yourself" should never come out of the mouth of anyone on our staff again. "Protect our network from increasingly sophisticated attacks", - fine. "Protect you from yourself." - not OK. Just to be clear, I'm not some dude with management experience and limited technical knowledge brought in to run the department. I have a CS degree and worn both software development and network support hats for many years.

            Now I'm sure you've never called the VP in question a "fuckwit" to their face, but I will not tolerate that attitude. I had a contractor (this time it was a developer) regularly insulting one of our support staff's ability using vulgar terms behind his back. He was the sort of guy that some organizations will put up with as long a they're performing. I dumped him as soon as I could find a replacement. People like that, even if they are extremely talented, have a way of dragging the whole team down.

          • You make it seem like IT are always the diligent but overworked people who know the technology and how things really should be done everywhere, whereas everyone outside of IT is a moron, especially the managers. In my experience IT can be just as fraught with morons as anyone else, and IT managers can even be morons too. Anyone who's had to bring in their Mac to have it upgraded to Windows 7 has experienced this.

            If you have to deal with a moron VP stop thinking that you're the only one. The rest of the c

        • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @11:24AM (#36475022) Homepage

          IT may have rules and procedures in place for stupid reasons, and all too often those rules are followed in a passive aggressive manner, because management does not trust their own employees as much as they trust outsiders, and has forced stupid rules on IT and denied them a budget of their own.

          There fixed that for you. As a developer, I probably fight more against IT every day than most other employees, but IT departments are a product of the company environment. They ignore new issues because taking on more responsibility is not something they are paid extra for, and more often than not, they are punished for being helpful when their other projects slip. Punish people for being helpful often enough, and they will stop helping.

          • WOOOHOO!

            This is EXACTLY why IT is the way it is.

            Businesses shouldn't run out and buy every freakin product without consulting their own IT staff. Maybe product A does look nice, but the business unit usually gets pissed when it won't integrate into the existing ERP. If IT was consulted BEFORE said money was spent, they could have had input that would have helped.

            ALL too often we're asked to integrate crap that was never designed to be integrated. BUY PRODUCTS THAT WORK WITH WHAT YA GOT and you won't have

      • Re:Duh (Score:5, Informative)

        by datapharmer ( 1099455 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:53AM (#36474552) Homepage
        Use that to your advantage. I have a client that has downsized their IT department out of existence. It is now completely outsourced to me and "the cloud". The reason? It would take literally *years* of arm twisting to get anything done internally.... there was always a reason it couldn't be done. Sometimes (but only sometimes) the reasons were legitimate. The difference between the IT staff that got fired and me, is when it could be done I did it and completed things on schedule. When it couldn't be done I told them why and provided other options. If they have an unrealistic expectation tell them that, but also tell them what their alternatives are: spend more money now, use "cloud" (aka rented) resources ad pay later. Show them the cost projections for the service versus the acquisition for 1 year versus 3 or 5 years. The company I mentioned earlier now uses a combination of hosted/cloud services and (locally) outsourced IT to manage their internal infrastructure. Their costs are a fraction of what they were 3 years ago, and I guarantee if you ask anyone there they will tell you that they are happier with the quality, reliability and types of services they have now versus 3 years ago. Sure some companies are run by morons who will save a buck now and find themselves in a nice steaming pile of IT infrastructure meltdown later, but a decent number of companies are just tired of lazy, socially inept IT employees holding back the entire company.
        • by plopez ( 54068 )

          If they have an unrealistic expectation tell them that, but also tell them what their alternatives are: spend more money now, use "cloud" (aka rented) resources ad pay later. Show them the cost projections for the service versus the acquisition for 1 year versus 3 or 5 years. The company I mentioned earlier now uses a combination of hosted/cloud services and (locally) outsourced IT to manage their internal infrastructure. Their costs are a fraction of what they were 3 years ago, and I guarantee if you ask anyone there they will tell you that they are happier with the quality, reliability and types of services they have now versus 3 years ago.

          I wish I had had someone like you on my IT team when I was in IT. In my case these sorts of actions lead me to be marginalized and then politically maneuvered into "spending more time with my family". I may have muffed a thing or two but I was always upfront with information. And taking responsibility for my actions.

    • Problem is they basically outsource their internal knowledge and open them way more to hacker attacks and also to failure.
      I would be reluctant to move to a cloud no matter what. But given that they only see the money side of things they probably are not even remotely aware of the implications this can have.
      All I can say is, go ahead shift your controlling and bookkeeping departement ot the lowest bidder no matter where it is located shove them over some money and dont care anymore thats basically what happe

    • Re:Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:35AM (#36474272) Journal

      This is true to a point.

      OTOH, the Cloud does have some big, fat hazards - security and politics-wise. When you have a bunch of sales/accounting folks setting up something IT-centric, it usually comes around to bite them (*and* IT) in the butt.

      I remember a previous job when HR decided all by themselves to contract a SaaS for payroll stuff. The HR department head kept bragging about how IT was now useless to them, that they could do whatever they wanted to. They hired an HRIS person specifically for the SaaS provider... ...that is, until the SaaS provider went to set things up, and asked where the ADFS servers were (for employee sign-on/information integration - this way they could see their payroll info at home as well as at work - a *major* selling point, politically). It was funny watching the same department head come crawling around, because suddenly he couldn't deliver what he bragged on. It wasn't funny because someone in IT had to quickly evaluate, then crap out money and bandwidth for two servers and a wad of SSL certs, and then spend time working out the kinks.

      My wee story is minor. There are far worse out there, usually when the rogue department comes across outages (and thus can't deliver), security breaches (and because IT wasn't told about it, they usually they find out the hard way - after A/P starts screaming that money is being lost, or employees start seeing identity theft), and general goof-ups that cause a great big mess that IT has to suddenly clean up.

      A strong IT department head/manager/CIO will cut that shit off at the knees politically, and make sure it all funnels through his department, or that he/she at least knows about it before it goes in. That, or at the very least he/she can make sure all other department heads know there's a big disclaimer: If you don't involve us, we ain't responsible for what happens to it. It's as simple as insuring the firewalls block things in *both* directions, and that users are fairly locked-down. That way if some schmoe in another department wants to start FTP'ing files or opening oddball ports, for the most part they'll have to come to IT to do it, and the IT folks can ask "why".

      The best way to prevent such things though is to have three things:

      * a responsive and agile IT department. Not always 100% possible, but at least do your level best to serve, not block.
      * IT management worth a fsck, who will insure that most stupid things don't happen.
      * push (and get) a simple policy: If we don't build it or endorse it, then it's *your* ass on the block when it breaks/explodes/whatever, not ours. This includes any failure to deliver something specifically from that cloud service due to any network/server outages on our end.

      The last part is just as important, because it removes any political cover that rogue department heads might have.

      (A thought - if you can't stop it politically, but wanted to go all BOFH on that rogue cloud service connection, a little QoS action that ratchets connections to those IP addys down to the speed of a 14k modem would be an excellent start... >:) )

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        "* a responsive and agile IT department. Not always 100% possible, but at least do your level best to serve, not block."

        You get this by making sure that department has the money to function the way the company wants it to function.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      And when a hacker takes all their data or they get slapped hard with a HIPPA violation or a SOX violation they will whine that IT did not warn them. And then BLAME it on IT.

      Managers like that are nothing but gaping assholes that want their project done for nothing with free access for everyone, to hell with security, it's their baby they want their TOY DAMMIT!

      IT has a reason for existence. It's Retarded clueless morons with MBA's that jump on every buzzword they can find and think they know IT because they

  • Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crashumbc ( 1221174 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:05AM (#36473874)

    Because their IT departments actually use the word "NO" when the managers want to do something stupid and retarded...

    • The manager's decision on how to approach the achievement of company objectives is IT's responsibility to follow. If they think it is 'stupid' or 'retarded,' it is not their job to say "no." They can disagree and explain in a well-documented, well-supported way why something should or should not be done, which would allow the manager to possibly change their decision. Or, the manager can say "too bad" and IT can follow orders like they are supposed to.

      IT geeks do not run the company. They are there to provi

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by crashumbc ( 1221174 )

        No that is exactly the IT departments responsibility, just like your legal department's job is to tell the managers no when they want to do something illegal.

        • It's management's responsibility to hire IT guys that know how to keep up with what the business needs. If IT personnel can't keep up then maybe there needs to be a change.
          • That is an excuse. IT guys CAN and DO keep up with business. We just usually aren't consulted. We don't ALWAYS say know. Maybe you would get better cooperation if it went like this:

            Business VP/CEO/Whoever: IT person, can you reccomend a solution that will help us more efficiently?

            IT Person: I was just thinking about that! How about Product A? It not only promises to do said business function faster, but it also can save us a bunch of money.

            Instead of like this:

            Business VP/CEO/Whoever: I want product C

        • Re:Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

          by baptiste ( 256004 ) <mike.baptiste@us> on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:25AM (#36474158) Homepage Journal
          Exactly - because if the IT department explains the risks, but goes ahead anyway because 'they said so' and then it blows up - who gets blamed? The brain dead manager that wouldn't listen or the IT department because it was an 'IT project'. Even if you have extensive documentation backing up the warnings you gave, it's too technical' and at the high mgmt level all they hear is 'IT screwed up' and it was an IT project. One of the main reasons I got out of corporate IT management - chronic lack of funding and not being listened to when you gave realistic cost and time projections for what was asked for and you never could achieve 'success' only 'not failing'. Nobody cheers for the power company because they keep the lights on day in and day out, but when the power goes out, they're public enemy #1.
          • Even if you have extensive documentation backing up the warnings you gave, it's too technical' and at the high mgmt level all they hear is 'IT screwed up' and it was an IT project

            All this means is that communication skills are important for everybody in business, even IT staff.

        • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

          Comparing something that's just stupid with something *illegal* is just...well...stupid.

          A company exists to make money. If an IT department is not helping to support that goal in some way, they need to be shown the door. I too have worked with IT departments who thought the company existed to serve them, not the other way around. And one of the finest moments in my career came a few years ago, when I got to watch a whole IT department take the "walk of shame" after the frustrated CEO finally cleaned house o

          • Except in many cases when IT says "No" they are also saying "It's illegal". I work in government contracting. When I say "No", you are to interrupt that as "It's a violation NISPOM and if I do that we'll all go to jail". There are many industries that deal with people's personal, financial, or medical informational that also have a legal requirement to be secure. I'm not saying that every industry is like this, or that every IT department is only fulfilling its legal obligations when it says "No", but i

      • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

        If it’s a hierarchy with said manager "in charge" of IT and everyone else, definitely.

        If it's more horizontal, not always. And I think this is really the case the article refers to.

      • One of their responsibilities is also to do good for their company. The IT guys can lose their jobs over the manager's mistake. Has it suddenly become wrong to care that the place that employs you does not do stupid things?
      • Re:Of course (Score:5, Informative)

        by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:20AM (#36474088) Homepage

        I take it you've never worked in an organization that worked something like this:

        Manager: "I need a perfect solution to the Traveling Salesman Problem - I just signed a 7-figure contract saying we'd provide that in 2 weeks."
        IT: "There's no way to do this, we've got lots of papers and well-known theory that proves that this is a problem the best mathematical and scientific minds that have ever existed in the last 50 years aren't able to solve."
        Manager: "Just get it done, ok? Look, there's a lot of money riding on this."

        2 weeks later ...
        Manager: "So where's that Traveling Salesman Problem solution I asked for?"
        IT: "It's not ready yet. As I previously mentioned, it's a virtual impossibility."
        Manager: "Keep at it - we can run over, it will penalize us in the contract a bit. Work overtime, stay in the office, do whatever else you need to do, until it's done."

        4 weeks later ...
        Manager: "So why isn't this Traveling Salesman Problem ready?"
        IT: "As I previously mentioned, there's no way to do this."
        Manager: "Your fired."

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Just as often, though, it goes:

          Manager: I need a basic CRM setup so our regional sales people can get up-to-the-minute information on orders, as well as basic customer info.

          IT: We're pricing this at $500,000 and a year to implement.

          Manager: Nevermind, calling the cloud.

          • Just as often, though, it goes:

            Manager: I need a basic CRM setup so our regional sales people can get up-to-the-minute information on orders, as well as basic customer info.

            IT: We're pricing this at $500,000 and a year to implement.

            Manager: Nevermind, calling the cloud.

            The good IT employee would say: We're calling the cloud to explore our options.

        • Smart I.T. guy:

          Day 1: Writes a flawed solution that's "close enough".
          Day 2: Patches up his C.V., takes the frenetic chick from the staffing agency out for a nice power dinner.
          Day 3-9: Sits on the product, prepares his colleague to take over responsibilities.
          Day 10: Delivers the finished solution early in exchange for a bonus.
          Days 11-21: Performs a dozen job interviews thanks to staffing agent.
          Day 22: Starts a new job, leaving the idiot manager behind to deal with the fallout.

          Of course there are less dramati

        • Manager: "I need a perfect solution to the Traveling Salesman Problem - I just signed a 7-figure contract saying we'd provide that in 2 weeks."

          That shit almost happened to me. Exactly traveling salesman problem. So like a good CS graduate I raised the blinding obvious problem only to be shot down. Some hired gun (Olafur) had already implemented some shit that he claimed to be perfect.

          Guess who the manager (Michael) believed.

          I don't work there anymore. Retarded manager, shitty weather and lousy food. They

          • For NP-completeness, the Millennium Problem site is a good reference.

            "Has Olafur collected his million dollars yet, which he could if he did have a perfect solution?"

        • You fail. The proper answer is "There is no way we can do this internally, have you considered using the cloud. I hear it works well and we won't have to hire anyone new." It puts and end to that crap really quick.
        • And here we see the difference between the academical and the real worlds. People solve the traveling salesman problem all the time at the real word. And yes, with exact solution. Of course, for that they need exponential time. If exponential time isn't available, they are ok with an approximation.

          And that also exemplifies the "can't get it done" behaviour the article is complaining about. It is quite a fair request at this level of detail, it may become a bad request with more details, and it is the job of

        • I need a perfect solution to the Traveling Salesman Problem

          There are many algorithms that get you 99.99% close to the optimal solution of the traveling salesman problem. Most NP-hard problems have very very good approximation algorithms.

          The conversation should go like this:
          Manager: "I need a perfect solution to the Traveling Salesman Problem - I just signed a 7-figure contract saying we'd provide that in 2 weeks."
          IT: "There's no way to do this perfectly, we can do it 99.99% close to perfectly.
          Manager: "Th

      • Re:Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

        by surgen ( 1145449 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:27AM (#36474178)

        IT geeks do not run the company. They are there to provide service to the company, and to do as they are told.

        Hey IT, go break HIPAA for me. I don't care that you're going to be held personally legally responsible. Its your job to do what I say!

        • Let's not forget breaking SOX, SCADA...

    • Re:Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

      by derrickh ( 157646 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:13AM (#36474004) Homepage

      This is the exact attitude why managers like to avoid dealing with IT.

      IT exists to help the rest of the company. Instead of saying 'NO', you need to figure out a way to say 'Yes' while solving the problems that make the request 'stupid and retarded'

      • It does exist "for the rest of the company." If your idea is bad (or contains delusional thinking in terms of technology) that should be pointed out because it affects everyone.

      • The problem is that if you never say "No". departments will be constantly re-inventing the wheel. Where I work a department was having a problem connecting between a PC that runs an instrument and data saved on the network. They had been told repeatedly that there were other instances of the same instrument elsewhere in the company that worked fine storing data on network shares. They went out and bought a NAS to connect directly to the instrument PC and put on the network. Their idea was to connect it to t
      • Re:Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @11:01AM (#36474672)

        The answer is not to say "No", it is to say "Yes, but I will need X amount of money to get it done", where X is what it takes to do what it takes, no matter what. Once you put money into the equation, the management types will either give you the cash (doubtful) or they will back off. Sometimes, they push back and say "you don't need that!". You just tell them that its a rush project and it wasn't budgeted, so there really is no money for it. You really, really, really want to do what they want, but alas, you just need to get the equipment/people to get it done.

        Keep saying "Yes" and explaining what you need to get the problem done in terms of dollars (or whatever you use). Management doesn't understand the word "impossible", but they do understand "incredibly expensive". Give them a path they can follow to get the money. Given the usual organization's reluctance to part with money, the rush project deadline will pass before the money is approved to be spent. That then shifts the blame to someone else, sometimes even the fool who made the stupid request to begin with.

        You have only said "Yes we can!" to the questions. You may have to do some research and presentations to justify your numbers, but that's nothing compared to trying to implement the impossible. If you get really good at it, your face doesn't even momentarily change to horror when you get that sort of request, you just simile and hand them the price tag.

        One thing you need to learn in business. Never say "No". You will look like you are an obstruction, rather than part of the "solution". I've found the way management works is based partially on what I call "happy horseshit", which means that your attitude tends to mean more than facts do. Even if you are correct 100% of the time, if you present that with a negative attitude, you're just as apt to be shunned or even fired as the incompetent people. Indeed, you'll probably be hated more, because the incompetent people might well be amiable idiots.

        • by Geminii ( 954348 )

          Once you put money into the equation, the management types will either give you the cash (doubtful) or they will back off.

          The other 90% of the time, they just say "You're not getting the money; do it anyway." That's the difference between internal and external services. Internal services can be told to do the impossible on pain of being fired; external services can set prices and not care at all if the business management don't take up the offer.

    • Because the IT departments use the word "NO" when they don't understand the problem or it falls out of their own expertise.

    • Because their IT departments actually use the word "NO" when the managers want to do something stupid and retarded...

      And because their IT departments actually use the word "NO" when the managers want to do something useful, productive, user-friendly, too. Too many CIOs think that the company exists to support their policies and staffs, rather than they exist to support business objectives and make the average employee more productive. I still think every CIO should be required to provide a charge number to all employees, to charge when that employee can't get his/her job done due to IT problems.

    • by JWW ( 79176 )

      When the IT department says NO to something that is a core part of executing the companies business they DESERVE to be cut out.

      Too many IT departments think there job is to stop things from happening.

      Security is important, very important, but is is ABSOLUTELY NOT more important than running the business. That is the only job of the company.

      If the IT department says no to a new system, the only thing left to do for a business that really needs that system is to try to do it some other way. And the cloud re

  • Companies don't like to eat their own dog food, no surprise there.
  • I buy it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by headhot ( 137860 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:06AM (#36473890) Homepage

    Lots of people complain about security and reliability in the cloud. Who do you trust more. A system designed by our underpaid overworked IT staff that got their degree from DeVry? You Consultants that charge $250/man/hour who will be gone when the thing shits the bed? Or Google?

    • From a security standpoing always the internal stuff, given that the company is big enough the problem is you cannot even remotely be as secure as cutting a cord in the worst case :-)
      Also think twice about pushing vital company data into something which is well known worldwide and accessible worldwide only protected by encryption to some degree and with security holes you have to rely on someone else to quick fix for you.
      Good luck with calling google in 2am in the morning if you have a problem if you are no

      • by headhot ( 137860 )

        Who do you think you would have to wake more often at 2am? What system would be more reliable.
        As for security, I think Lutzsec is showing every one, that for companies that are not data centric, like google, amazon, ect, they have no idea how to do security correctly. How would your local staff be any different?

  • Welcome Brothers! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:07AM (#36473902)

    This has been happening to us in the software world for some time. It's purely a cost thing (imo), which "dealing with IT" is a factor of, but in general I think it is a lot simpler.

    Need some software. Your options be:

    - Pay a team of developers to design, build, and maintain the software you use. Advantage is you get exactly (or well, in theory anyway) what you want. Disadvantage is it can take time to get the bugs sorted out

    - Buy something off the shelf which is close enough. Advantage is you get it right away, it is generally mature out of the box, and you don’t need to keep a bunch of guys around to sort out bugs. Additionally because they sell this software to hundreds of users, they can throw way more development resources as it than you ever could (ye old horizontal market). Disadvantage is you don’t get exactly the features you want, but even that is changing as stuff becomes more extendable and more companies offer “customization”.

    Option 2 starts looking very good, with option 1 becoming more reserved for “weird” or original software that no one else has written. A depressing trend.

    I suspect as this same thing happens with infrastructure, you will find the same. Most businesses use some external provider, and the “real IT” jobs are mainly at places providing infrastructure to others, or handling really unusual cases.

    • by cratermoon ( 765155 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:23AM (#36474140) Homepage

      At its simplest, the build vs. buy decision is about competitive advantage. If a company needs some commodity IT service or function, it should buy the "good enough" product. If the company is looking to support and enhance whatever it is that company does that makes it unique and better than its competitors, build it in-house and get exactly the right thing.

      Most of what "the cloud" does is commodity functions.

    • by Cytotoxic ( 245301 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:43AM (#36474408)

      There is another advantage to "off the shelf" software. Customization is difficult and expensive, so the incentive is to mold your business practice to fit the software. This can actually be a good thing. In many situations it can prevent time wasted reinventing the wheel.

      If I was starting a mortgage business tomorrow, I'd buy an off-the-shelf mortgage origination package and design my entire business practice around the way the software works. This is because the mortgage industry is very mature, and the packages that exist address most business needs right out of the box.

      I happen to work in an industry that has fewer than a dozen companies, worldwide. And really there are only a couple of major players. There is no off-the-shelf solution for our business model, so I've seen the 'build in house' model up close. It is fantastic for providing exactly what the business needs. Everything can be custom tailored to the exact demands of the business at that moment.

      This is also a major weakness of this approach. When there are no limits to what you can do, well... there's no limits to what they can ask for. Smart people tend to be creative. So we end up getting a deluge of feature requests, a large majority of which won't actually help the business. If you can't say "no" on technical grounds you are left arguing on business needs - not the IT mission in the minds of most managers. So you end up building a lot of things that won't really help. In most real-world situations, off-the-shelf carries major advantages in terms of focusing the business on things that will grow the business.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:09AM (#36473936)

    Seriously, I would rather pull my own teeth than deal with my last company's IT people. Getting anything done through them was a nightmare. "Customer service" wasn't even a concept on their radar. "No" was the only word in their vocabulary. They had perfected a variation on "security through obscurity," which could best be characterized as "security through inaction." By not allowing anyone or anything on the system, they kept it secure. Here was a typical exchange:

    Me: We've got a new program that's going to make the company a lot of money
    Them: We can't do anything to help you. And if you try and go around us, we'll try to stop you.
    Me: I just want to put up a simple html webpage with information on it.
    Them: Can't do it. It's a security risk.

    • Its interesting to see the point of view from the other side of the fence. My experience has been exactly the opposite. Management quite often will make promises that their infrastructure cant deliver on. When IT says " we cant do it," its usually because management tends to be focused on nothing but their bottom line and refuses to invest in proper infrastructure. That is where the politics comes into play, IT generally could care less about the politics, we just want to get the job done with proper resour
    • Can't do it. It's a security risk.

      Well, they're right, of course. Doing anything in business requires risk/reward trade-offs. But the leaf-node IT guy shouldn't be making those business calls - he surely doesn't get compensated well enough to take on the opportunity risk costs himself, and probably lacks the wisdom to make them correctly.

      IT should hand you an invoice to do it right, and your business people can decide if it's worthwhile.

    • To me it sounds like you don't have authority in the company to push these changes. I'm an IT manager and when these kinds of requests come in they have to be approved by a CXO, VP, or some other senior executive, that is the decision maker for that area of the company. Otherwise how do I know that this new program or this new website is in line with the company's goals and direction? You should take your case higher up and get the right people to support your project/request. Also, sometimes the person req
  • Newsflash. In-house IT departments can be unreliable and pricey too.
  • Answer Cloudy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:10AM (#36473946) Homepage Journal

    Different reasons for different sized businesses.

    I moved my small corporation to "the cloud" because even though there have been outages (thoug not for us) in the cloud, it's still far more reliable than running a linux box in a neighborhood where PG&E apparently trips over their own power cords every month, and a UPS only buys the incompetents a short window to get it back up.

    And it's cheaper and more reliable than colocing.

    Has nothing to do with "hating IT" in our case. Hell, I am the IT guy in addition to all my other hats. Small businesses are like that.

    • This is the same analysis I have done. We also have very poor power reliability. So our main data center has a diesel backup the size of a tractor-trailer and a week of fuel available, plus contracts with supply companies for fuel deliveries in the event of an emergency. That ain't cheap. We have redundant data centers and mirrored servers in separate states. Also not cheap.

      I've been talking with major colo providers about hosting our ~150 virtual machine servers and our virtual desktops. Unfortunat

  • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:11AM (#36473962) Journal

    Getting a big project started is often such a politically fraught process that for many managers it's easier to simply write a check.

    There is no way the services provisioning and supply chain processes should allow line managers to sidestep corporate IT by merely writing a check. IT is failing in its critical mission to become the unavoidable middle man--the bill you have to pay--by not exercising its oversight over all purchasing decisions. It's the only way: every expenditure must have an IT sign-off to so that a grown-up can make sure IT isn't being left out, and attempting to acquire computing, storage, or communications facilities from anyone except IT must be an immediate termination offense.

    Of course, IT must also make sure its firewalls and content protection systems keep the company's machines safely away from these rogue service providers unless the appropriate genuflections, prayers, and offerings are made to IT. An unsanctioned cloud provider contract is useless if the network won't let your systems connect to the service demarcation of the profider.

    (Am I serious? Am I kidding? Am I both?)

  • . . . we came in. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ccandreva ( 409807 ) <> on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:12AM (#36473980) Homepage

    This reads like an article from circa 1980, just replace "Cloud" with "Personal Computer".

    People didn't want to wait for access to the mainframe, they went to Radio Shack and bought a TRS-80, or whatever local store you had and picked up an Apple, CBM, random CP/M machine, etc.

    Then more PCs showed up, they needed to share data, IT installed a network ...

    Isn't this where . . .

  • It got so bad in our office that our senior management paid money to build their own employee-managed network where management can set the IT policies. One of which is "developers and sys admins get admin rights on their own machines." The developers that I've seen who have to work on the corporate IT-managed network regularly curse whatever malevolent spirit controls our company at that level. We actually get work done.

  • you're just replacing one Dept. with another. I think it has to do more with cost. Cloud means the cheapest labor protected by the weakest laws. Plus Cloud means the blame can be placed outside the company.
  • I work in the healthcare vertical. I've seen 2 major health systems attempt this form of outsourcing over the last few years. In both cases, the short-term cost savings were far outweighed over the long term by down times and a complete lack of true integration between the tech implementers and the business units (e.g. doctors and nurses).

    This is the exact opposite of the experience detailed in TFA.

    You think your IT is glacial? Try to get an IT org to move for you when they don't even work in the same
  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:18AM (#36474060) Journal

    I was "all in" for a bit, was supporting the idea of moving an entire college's email system into one of these systems. We set up a pilot and due to a certain username transition going on with that company, it wiped out about 100 of our user's PERSONAL non-college data from the site because they had associated their college email address with the service in the past.

    We begged and pleaded for help. They said they were looking into it. No updates. No promise to make it right. About 2-3 weeks after that, the user's data started to be restored. But I've never felt so helpless during that period. There was nothing I could do. It's a free service, so there wasn't much recourse either.

    I have, or my staff have, in the past done some really stupid things that interrupted service or temporarily lost user data. But we were right on top of it, worked around the clock to fix it, and learned from the mistakes. It's a horrible feeling to lose a system but it's nothing compared to the hopeless feeling of losing user data in a system you have absolutely no control over.

    Needless to say, the pilot opened our eyes.

  • by RivenAleem ( 1590553 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:21AM (#36474106)
    Below, in process flow format for non IT people. Businesses are afraid of Technology.

    Fear -> Anger -> Hate -> The Cloud
  • by MoldySpore ( 1280634 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:21AM (#36474122)

    Getting a big project started is often such a politically fraught process that for many managers it's easier to simply write a check.

    Yes, politics all too often come into play when trying to get a project off the ground and started, especially in IT. But it has more to do with the politicians and the manager than it does with the actual IT staff. And I am not sure how putting it in the cloud avoids the politics? Any project of significance has to be run up the flag pole in any IT situation.

    I am a network engineer for a county government that has it's hooks into state and federal level networks. Our political party is currently republican. So needless to say they hate all democrats. Any democratic IT idea or project that is started is immediately met with HUGE levels of opposition, while any ideas from their side is met with opposition from the democrats. There are also many cases where one party will get elected to the actual city government, while the county officials are from another party, which makes working together sometimes impossible.

    IT and networking department are usually the worker bees, taking orders from their manager and higher ups, who all report to politicians of some sort at some point in the creative process. Getting rid of IT departments isn't the answer. Get rid of the politicians!!! If we remove the politics from most things, they will run better and most likely take 1/2 the time, which will ultimately reduce the cost of projects in man hours alone.

  • Let me see if I got this right: business managers are changing to Cloud SaaS infrastructures because their own IT departments don't give them new features fast enough?

    So they expect a 3rd party supplier will be faster???

    The word "Cloud" doesn't make it all magical, with faeries and pony's all over the place and quick response to changing requirements: if you start using software from a 3rd party supplier, Cloud or no Cloud, you better be a big enough customer that they're willing give you more than just the

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @10:37AM (#36474314) Homepage

    That pretty much describes the recent and current trends in business. When was the last time you heard "20 year plan" let alone "10 year plan" or even "5 year plan"? I used to hear that all the time as businesses made their strategies and plans with longevity and long term goals in mind. These days, you hear planning by the year and the quarter. Long term projects are killed because they cost short-term money with no immediate returns. If there is anything that kills progress, it is this.

    TL;DR? Business has gotten immature and impatient.

  • by billybob_jcv ( 967047 ) on Friday June 17, 2011 @11:27AM (#36475102)

    Anyone who thinks using the cloud gets you away from using your own IT dept is smoking crack. Want to have single sign-on with your corporate active directory? You need IT. Want to integrate your CRM instance with your in-house ERP system to get customers and orders? You need your IT dept. Want to use a cloud BI tool to make cool dashboards for your CEO? You need your IT dept to feed you data.

    It's really simple - stop seeing your IT dept as a drive-thru fast food joint. Instead of coming to them with a half-baked solution that you need yesterday, try actually including them at the *beginning* of your thought process - and partner with them to meet corporate objectives. Stop thinking that *your* bonus objectives are the center of the universe - and start working together with the rest of the company's senior leadership to develop a prioritized portfolio of projects that your IT dept can help you execute. Take ownership of the business problem, the business process, the business data and the business value of the proposed solution - and let IT take ownership of the technical design, the system vendor management, the system implementation and the system maintenance.

    The one part of the dot-com days that I really miss is that IT was actually considered a strategic partner & leader in the company. Now that the accountants and salesmen are back in-charge, it's 1985 all over again...

  • Where I currently work, if a department comes with a complete detailled project plan we can approve it in less than a week or even the same day if we don't need to go back and forth clarifying important points. The problem is that once we approved the project plan, it must spend about 90 days in the "purchasing" labyrinth. Then the purchase order has to cross the "call for tender" quicksand area (throw in a couple of weeks at least) to finish in the "supplier administration" swamp. We can't purchase anything without an approved detailled project plan, which initially requires a "steering committee" and loads of meetings on the client department side. What happens most of the time is that the client comes to us with a few notes on a napkin, lacking most useful information and with a target date a few weeks in the past. Of course, they then blame us for failing to deliver on time just after leaving said napkin at our door.

The way to make a small fortune in the commodities market is to start with a large fortune.