This post is part of a continuing exchange. To get the whole thread check the links below:
Following up my recent exchange with Randy Bias, I had a great conversation with Lew Moorman, president of Rackspace, a core sponsor of OpenStack, an open source infrastructure for cloud computing. Randy’s key point, Lew explained, is that cloud computing is not a better way of doing enterprise IT but rather a disruptive paradigm that reframes the relationship between IT and the enterprise. In that context, if we try to use the old framing, we will be following what Quentin Hardy calls the “horseless carriage” path—shoehorning the future into the paradigm of the past. We (or at least I) need to rethink.
This led me to the following analogy: Just as Agile programming reframed the relationship between the user community and the programming team, converting application development from an arm’s length waterfall process to a collaborative iterative approach, so the Cloud’s SaaS/PaaS/IaaS/DevOps approach to IT is reframing the relationship between applications and the compute resource from a static passenger-vehicle model to a dynamic self-provisioning paradigm. In both cases—Agile and Cloud—the goal is to create end-to-end accountability for the end user experience by overcoming a division that was canonical in traditional enterprise IT—the user/developer separation in the case of Agile, the applications/systems separation in the case of Cloud.
Why the change? Well, in part, because the technology now allows it. But so what? What’s the big deal?
The big deal is that we are digitizing human experience across every facet of human culture, and in that context, the quality of the experience has become integral to the experience itself. In other words, we are not really promulgating web apps or mobile apps, we are engaging end users in digital experiences. Yes, the apps are the vehicle, but no, they are not separate from the experience. This is not an ATM machine, where the transaction takes precedence over the experience. This is a communication in which the experience takes precedence over the transaction. To be sure, IT still accountable for the latter, but for the first time it is also accountable for the quality of the experience. Best efforts no longer cuts it. Hence the need for dynamic self-provisioning, budget permitting of course.
(Photo: kevin dooley, Flickr)