Why IT should stop trying to compete with outside cloud services

More than ever, enterprises need IT managers' brains, not brawn.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Many IT leaders are concerned about how they can compete with cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace. Often, cloud providers are able to offer capabilities such as storage at a much more favorable price point than internal IT can deliver.

As a result, says Bernard Golden, executive with Dell's cloud computing group, says it's high time IT leaders stop trying to compete with the outside services. In a recent CIO post, he says "the rapid rise of cloud computing means corporate IT may no longer be the cheapest purveyor of application hosting, infrastructure, storage and other services."

As he put it, the cloud challenge "threatens to topple [corporate IT's] position as monopoly supplier of computing to the larger enterprise."

And he has a message for corporate IT leaders: the sooner you come to terms with this, the better.

Golden is on to something, of course. The dedicated cloud providers have gigantic economies of scale they can bring to engagements. They have armies of specialized talent who can keep things humming with the latest software and security tools.

What Golden is telling us cuts right to the heart of corporate IT's role in the world. It isn't just rolling out machines and doing the coding. It's about understanding what the business needs to move forward. It's about researching and understanding the most cost-effective and secure solution to accomplish that. That solution may still be in the corporate data center, or it may be available from a third party. Amazon and Rackspace have a lot of incredibly smart people, but they know very little about your business. Enterprises need their own IT people more than ever to make the right calls.  

The key takeaway here: IT is not a "competitor" to outside cloud services. It is a guide to finding the best path for the business. And, sometimes, the enterprise becomes a cloud provider itself, but again, not as a competitor to the big cloud combines, but as specialized providers within industry niches or customer networks. But that's another story for another post.

(Thumbnail photo credit: Joe McKendrick.)

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