Demystifying cloud: it’s procurement and agile
You don’t need to be a writer to appreciate good writing, but most people don’t read Latin. Words work when they communicate.
Technology has become table stakes for doing business. Too often it’s understood by too few. Communicating it simply, clearly and honestly is important for building healthy organisations and developing shared understanding across disciplines.
Technology is no longer a thing organisations do, it’s how organisations do everything
Cloud isn’t mysterious. If we can all understand it and see why it’s important, that helps us all work better together and that’s good for everyone.
If you’ve a bit of history with technology, you’ll know datecentre came before cloud. On the one hand these are about where technology lives, but more interesting is what they say about how technology procurement and management are changing. When your mindset shifts, the dynamics change too.
There was a time when technology procurement was capital expenditure. You bought servers and made sure you had enough over-capacity to support a best guess of your future needs. In a capex world, the right thing to do was to over-provision so you could grow. Once that cost was sunk, you’d sweat the asset to get as much value out of it as you could before inevitably needing to upgrade.
The only thing you can reliably predict about the future is change
Buying tech was like buying a house. Will you pay for an extra bedroom today or will you choose to move house if you have children? Big costs, big decisions, long-term commitments. The risks run both ways: too small and you’ll have to upgrade early, too big and you ain’t gonna need it. Either way you miss out on value.
The move to cloud means the model of technology procurement has switched to operational expenditure. You now pay for what you use, as you use it.
Cloud means utility computing, which means utility billing, which means “good” works differently
Like metered electricity, you only pay when you’re using it. You’ll use different amounts at different times to meet your changing needs. Success is determined by how closely you can get usage to match your needs and value is maximised by being able to adjust usage as you go.
Transforming from capex to opex
The capex and opex procurement models roughly translate to datacentre and cloud. This shift fundamentally alters the the dynamics of how you manage technology.
An opex model reverses incentives from maximising use to minimising use
In a capex world good means forecasting, planning, implementing and over-provisioning. In an opex world, good means measuring, responding, adjusting and right-sizing.
An agile mindset
You may notice how these shifts echo the mindset shifts you experience in a transition to agile working. That’s no coincidence.
I’m a fan of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. When your why (your mindset) changes, your how and your what (the things you do and how you do them) naturally flow from that.
Cloud is technology’s expression of agile.