Allaying the Anxiety of the New - InformationWeek

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Commentary
4/22/2010
03:38 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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Allaying the Anxiety of the New

Cloud computing is a new concept that has created a good deal of anxiety in organizations at almost every level, especially at the top. One way to overcome that anxiety is to recognize in cloud computing similarities with successful (note emphasis) past IT practices.

Cloud computing is a new concept that has created a good deal of anxiety in organizations at almost every level, especially at the top. One way to overcome that anxiety is to recognize in cloud computing similarities with successful (note emphasis) past IT practices.

According to William Shakespeare, "Everything old is new again." While the obviousness of that statement displays itself regularly in the fields of fashion and entertainment it is less obvious but still appropriate in the area of information technology. It is also an indication of how IT managers interested in selling cloud computing to upper management might approach that task.

The "cloud" is a metaphor; it's used to expresses the always-on, from-anywhere, network-centric nature of the strategy. But it doesn't do much for allaying jitters about nebulous technology innovations. Several CIOs with whom I've spoken over the last few weeks emphasized that one cogent way to introduce the concept of cloud computing to upper management is to compare it to past IT strategies, such as outsourcing and co-location.

Like cloud computing, outsourcing, when it first appeared, was greeted with considerable anxiety, which dissipated as the strategy proved its worth. Co-location, on the other hand, was seen as a natural progression from the legacy practice of "time sharing." Co-location's "natural progression" scenario and outsourcing's lesson in "trust your partner" are both compelling historical arguments for cloud computing's potential efficacy.

Comparing cloud computing with past practices is also a way to introduce its limitations and problem areas in a realistic context. Best practices learned through outsourcing and co-location engagements can serve as the basis for a cloud computing primer.

The French have an expression, Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose, which means, "The more things change, the more they remain the same." Recognizing and exploiting the familiar in the innovative is one way of allaying the anxiety of the new.Cloud computing is a new concept that has created a good deal of anxiety in organizations at almost every level, especially at the top. One way to overcome that anxiety is to recognize in cloud computing similarities with successful (note emphasis) past IT practices.

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