The #1 question people used to ask: “How can I get management to buy into my idea?”
Now it’s: “How can I get management to buy into my idea about cloud?”
Then they talk about their attempts to sway their bosses. I’m not surprised they’re not succeeding. I’m surprised that they haven’t been fired.
What Not To Do
If you’re about to use any of these approaches, stop yourself. Even if you have tap into your inner Tyler Durden and knock yourself out.
Here’s Why It Won’t Work!!
You’ve seen the cloud plan. Your company has been playing with the cloud — test and development and some cloud-native toy applications. It’s gone well. Now they’re planning to run applications with data (aka — real applications).
Now is your moment! You warn everybody that there’s a looming disaster. There’s no plan for handling the storage failures (0.1% of devices) … or backup … or security. There’s no strategy to avoid vendor lock-in. And they sideline you. What?!
Lesson: Everybody has bought in, and you can’t stop the train. Nobody wants to hear why the train will derail. Instead of seeming wise, you sound like you’re protecting your job.
It’s Going to Be Too Expensive!!
This is a favorite criticism of the cloud. Especially from legacy IT vendors. The argument goes:
- A well-run IT department can deliver the same services at a cheaper price.
- You’re paying for flexibility in the cloud, so it must be more expensive.
Despite this wisdom, the business units ignore you.
Lesson: Cloud isn’t about cutting costs. Businesses are frustrated with IT’s lack of agility, and cloud lets them move faster. Since you’ve just aligned yourself with IT, you’re now “part of the problem”.
If You Give Me 6 People and 6 months, I Can “Do It Right”
Businesses are already “swiping a credit card” and running in the cloud. You asked for a team of people and time to come up with a plan. That sounds like you’re using a legacy approach to design a new environment. They hear warning bells, and find somebody who will do it faster with fewer people.
Lesson: Executives like cloud because there’s no lead time. If you’re going to appeal to them, you can’t talk in quarters or even months. Think weeks.
Let me Try this New Technology!
You know Docker, Kubernetes, and/or MongoDB would help the company develop applications faster. Somehow. You extol the virtues of Docker Overlay Networks, Kubernetes Stateful Sets, and eventual consistency NoSQL databases. Unfortunately, your boss refuses to commit and asks you to write up a report. You know nothing is going to happen.
Lesson: Your managers do not have grounding in the new technology, so they feel insecure. They were probably last “hands-on” with VMs. They’re not going to risk their necks for something they don’t understand.
Don’t be negative. Don’t be slow. Don’t make your boss feel stupid.
(Before you laugh, be honest. How many times have you broken these rules?)
What To Do
Be Agile. Agile is the term of the day. Executives, businesses, and managers love the word and what it symbolizes. Everybody wants to move faster and cheaper. Everybody wants to “Be Agile.”
To change your approach, follow this formula:
- Explain your business value (bonus points if you use the word agile!)
- Bring solutions to the problems
A More Resilient Cloud Makes the Business More Agile
Business Value: A more resilient cloud environment makes us more agile. With a resilient cloud, we can lift-and-shift existing applications. Without it, we need to re-architect everything to be cloud-native. That will be slow and expensive.
Problem: AWS has 0.1% Storage Failure Rate for Block Storage.
Solution: We should mirror the block devices. We should make backups on the resilient object storage in multiple clouds.
Centralized Cloud Best Practices Makes the Business More Agile
Business Value: Central management of the cloud makes us more agile. Business units won’t have to figure out what cloud configuration works best with trial and error. We’ll do that work, so they can focus on building revenue-generating applications.
Problem: Each business unit is buying their own cloud resources. There are billions of combinations. They don’t have the time to figure out what works best. They’re picking something and hoping it’s reasonable.
Solution: A small central team can work on best practices. We can even A-B test across groups to find out what works best.
A Simpler Cloud Makes Developers More Agile
Business Value: We can use cloud for more applications, if we give the application teams a more mature environment. Otherwise, they need to learn to build microservices before they’re productive.
Problem: The cloud lacks data management: availability, performance management, and data protection. The application teams have to build data management into their apps. The extra work slows them down.
Solution: We will build cloud data management, so more application developers can be productive.
New Technology Can Help Us Be More Agile With Cloud Providers
Business Value: Running in multiple clouds gives us leverage against any one vendor. We can run different applications in different clouds.
Problem: It’s a big learning curve to run in different clouds.
Solution: Technologies like Kubernetes and Docker can help virtualize the cloud. It does for public cloud what VMware did for servers. Let me just walk you through how it might work… (Now you have your chance to educate them!)
“How can I get management to buy into my idea about cloud?” is the right question. Cloud is the future.
You just need to know how to approach management. Don’t be “Dr. No” or “Dr. Slow”. That’s what they don’t like about IT. They’ve fought for cloud and they want people who will fight for them and their success.
- Agile Business Value
And if you think you’re saying “Agile” too often… you’re not. Don’t roll your eyes. Agility is the rare buzzword that actually delivers value to the business.
Agile is Awesome.