For technologists, the very idea of having a practically unlimited pool of resources to pull from is a dream come true. It’s like all the benefits of working for a big, huge, well-financed behemoth of an organization without actually having to – well – work for a big, huge, well-financed behemoth. On top of that, it’s like having all new servers – ALL THE TIME!!! As with most things that excite technologists, they should terrify those who hold the purse strings. The cloud is no exception. Just because the changing cost structure (fixed to variable) is obvious, doesn’t mean the solutions are. Take a brand new project as an example. Prior to the cloud, the team sat down to guesstimate (woefully) the compute needs for the project and spec’d out the associated hardware. Finance then reviewed (and halved) that number, servers were ordered, installed, configured some months later and we were all on our merry way. For all its downsides, this approach did have an unheralded benefit – inherent cost control. No matter how much you ran those servers, they weren’t going to cost your organization any more (save for electricity and HVAC, but work with me here). If you really needed more compute, you pulled together a compelling case for it and proceeded to beg, borrow, steal, grovel, and gather at the proverbial caracas of a failed project to grab whatever you could repurpose. The sheer effort required to actually justify and buy new hardware was in itself a deterrent to doing so. Enter the cloud. Any organizational leader from the PM to the finance office finds him/herself in the unenviable position of playing Ebeneezer Scrooge to the technologists Bob Cratchit on an on-going basis. Everyone inherently knows that treating the cloud the same way as hardware makes little sense and obviates much of the benefit of going to the cloud. On the other end of the spectrum, empowering technologists to take full advantage of the nearly unlimited capacity of the cloud and asking them nicely to “keep an eye on costs” and “turn things off they aren’t using” isn’t likely to succeed. It amounts to putting 2 year olds in a room full of toys and asking them to put old toys away before getting out new ones to play with. Having considerable hands-on experience with both (techies and 2 year olds) believe me, this doesn’t work. At least with the 2 year old, I don’t have to pay for the toys left on the floor! I’ve seen projects with literally hundreds of unused volumes sitting around because “oh, we didn’t know that those stayed there when we shut the servers down” – never mind the very obvious list of 750 volumes right there on the screen, but I digress.
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