Cloud

Could an “Occupy” Movement Invade Your Cloud?

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It could happen – disgruntled IT managers and executives sitting shoulder to shoulder with their business partners in a tent city protesting the rising costs of clouds that are controlled too closely by infrastructure vendors.

What started as a hopeful, boisterous experiment in democratizing IT and empowering users could lead rapidly to disillusionment if “big stack” infrastructure vendors are not kept in check.

The VP of marketing is playing the guitar; the head of HR is making the posters because protesting cloud vendor lock-in seems like the only true option – a rip-and-replace strategy is even more expensive than exorbitant maintenance costs. This is cloud vendor lock-in at its worst, and it has the potential to paralyze an IT department, and with it business.

If 30 years of IT management have taught us anything, it’s that end-to-end vendor lock-in never works because it is diametrically opposed to the principles upon which IT was founded, that is to employ technology to provide a cheaper, faster way to conduct business. In the rush to cloud, executives must remember that cloud is the means, not the end. Cloud computing is a vehicle for business success, not a destination.

To avoid cloud vendor lock-in, better cloud management tools are needed.

With more and more infrastructure vendors peddling a one-stop-shop option marketed with broad capabilities, it’s no wonder that IT and business decision makers feel wooed by the promises made by big-stack cloud vendors. At first it might seem like these promises, which include aggressive pricing, packaging, robust development roadmaps, logos, specs, and capabilities, seem more than acceptable. But what happens on the morning after?

Today’s promise is not tomorrow’s reality, especially in the fast- moving world of IT. Anything can happen, from a loss of backwards compatibility to an undelivered roadmap or a distracting acquisition. Change is inevitable and your cloud infrastructure better be ready to handle it.

Take for example the impact of consumer technology on IT. We all know that consumer technology is fundamentally changing the game within virtually every business on the globe. Today executives and business leaders are savvy IT consumers. If the cloud is not managed effectively and the services promised by big-stack vendors are not delivered properly and on budget, CIOs could easily have an “Occupy IT” situation on their hands. The last thing any CIO overseeing a cloud project wants to do is to go back to business leaders and ask for higher, more prescribed IT budgets to cover rising cloud costs.

Because most big-stack cloud vendors can’t handle dramatic change, a majority of companies have switched vendors for servers, storage or infrastructure software in the last five to 10 years. Add to this the fact that more and more companies are deploying heterogeneous data centers and making use of more public cloud services, and the result is a mission-critical need for a diverse cloud management platform capable of managing physical boxes, different flavors of virtualization and hybrid resources, both on day one and for years after.

If your business is feeling cloud lock-in, know that proper management is the key to breaking free. Good management tools enable change through integration and, most importantly, make vendor choice possible. In addition, cloud life cycle management tools enable a business to turn an average cloud into a reliable, precision-run solution that delivers as promised, day in and day out – which is exactly why the business turned to the cloud to begin with.

Ken Berryman is senior vice president of BMC’s strategy and corporate development. Follow BMC Software @bmcsoftware.

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