Pick Your Bridge January 18, 2010Posted by Chuck Musciano in Leadership, Technology.
Regular readers know that I have some strong concerns about cloud computing, especially in the arena of security. I’ve enjoyed a number of vigorous debates with both vendors and fellow CIOs regarding their comfort level with cloud-based services. Personally, I’m comfortable moving small, non-material business processes to the cloud, but will continue to manage my core business applications in my own data center. Other CIOs are at different points on this spectrum, with valid reasons for their decisions.
Invariably, many of these discussions reach a point where a proponent of cloud stuff will point out that some very large companies have made big commitments to cloud technology, moving some or all of their infrastructure and systems to the cloud. The implication, of course, is that if these big companies are comfortable with the cloud, I should be, too. As my mother would be quick to point out, if these companies were to jump off a bridge, should I jump off too?
There is a comfort in following the paths of others, but there is no guarantee of success. The only thing that matters in a decision like this is what is important to your company. Other companies are making decisions based on their own criteria; they may or may not match yours. Simply assuming that large companies are somehow smarter than you may not be a wise decision.
In the classic Simpson’s episode Krusty Gets Busted, Bart’s idol, Krusty the Clown, is accused of robbing the local Kwik-E-Mart. The entire town of Springfield rises up in opposition to Krusty. Bart is horrified to find that even his father Homer has turned against Krusty. Bart complains, “Dad, you’re giving in to mob mentality!” To which Homer replies, “No I’m not, I’m hopping on the bandwagon! Now get with the winning team!” In the end, of course, Krusty is exonerated when it is discovered that his evil sidekick, Sideshow Bob, was the real culprit.
So many technology decisions seem to become a choice between mob mentality and joining the bandwagon. In reality, what others do should not factor into the decisions we make for ourselves and our companies. We need to make a decision based on the unique merits of the case.
That said, critical market mass should be factored into a software or system decision, since it affects long-term maintenance and support pricing. Nonetheless, simply assuming that something is right because others are doing it is a poor decision process.
CIOs have to pick their way through these minefields everyday. Where will you find yourself today? As part of the mob, happily on the bandwagon, or following someone off a bridge? What would Bart (or your Mom) think?
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