My second book, On Top of the Cloud, was published in 2012. It seems like a long time ago. So much has changed. Today, we take social media seriously. There's a mobile app for everything. We're all trying to figure out how to leverage advanced analytics and extract value from big data. Everyone is asking us if we're prepared for the Internet of Things.
It seems odd, however, to hear senior IT leaders debating the merits of cloud computing in 2015. Frankly, I thought the debate was over. But I still hear people talking about the cloud as if it were some kind of passing fad or flavor of the month.
As I wrote in my book three years ago, the cloud is a lever for transformation. It is disruptive technology par excellence and it cannot be ignored. The cloud is here to stay -- it's a permanent part of the modern IT landscape.
Let's face facts: The cloud is the fastest, easiest and most cost-effective way for spinning up additional computing power when you need it. And the best part is that when your need diminishes or goes away, you can stop paying for it. You can't do that with heavy iron computing infrastructure. Imagine calling up one of the big mainframe vendors, telling them you're done using their equipment, and asking them to take it back until you need it again.
Instead of fighting the cloud, we should focus on getting ahead of it. I don't have any intrinsic problems with "shadow IT," but we shouldn't let it define enterprise cloud strategy. Then we'd have to play catch up, and that's not an ideal strategy.
The argument I hear most frequently is that the cloud isn't secure. But the truth is that the major cloud providers have significantly more experience managing and assuring security than most IT departments. From my perspective, your data is probably safer in the cloud than it is in your data center.
That doesn't mean I'm recommending you outsource your security to a cloud provider. But most cloud providers provide excellent security. They have to provide the best security, or they would be out of business.
Rather than becoming cloud administrators, CIOs should become cloud architects. Instead of merely following "shadow IT" into the cloud, we should be providing leadership, vision and strategy. It's always better to lead than it is to catch up.