Cloud Computing: Asking What, Not How

Writing blog posts is always easier said than done.

I have written, and rewritten, this post over and over again. One of my team members asked me to write a “State of The Cloud,” along with my thoughts on the direction it would be going in 2017. I said, “No problem!” and got started.

I can crank out 500 words in my sleep, and this shouldn’t have been a challenge whatsoever. In reality, though, once I started writing, the piece started to take on a life of its own. My thoughts began to wonder in to strange places, I began to use needless acronyms and found myself running in to dead ends. We’re talking deep thought here; limestone caves of thought rift with streams of consciousness and pools of reflection. Where was this going? Where will it lead?

After a month of furtive effort, a gentle reminder pushed me back in to action. Tasked with developing and executing an editorial calendar, my team member asked if he could see what I had, and if he could edit it. Edit? Could he help me finish it first?

The more I thought about the topic, the more difficult it became to write about. I had to do something – and on my own. There’s more at stake here than a simple blog post. What I was really trying to do was solidify my vision and thoughts on the cloud and technology in general – and as a result, where my company is headed as we look toward the future.

What are we investing our time, money, and passion in to? Is this just more of the same solutions that haven’t fundamentally changed in the 18 years I’ve been working in this industry? Is the cloud the next logical step in the development of the Utility Computing initiative by Sun and other industry leaders from the turn of the century? Is it the SaaS revolution led by Salesforce that decoupled the application from the IT Department?

It’s all of those things, but it’s also none of them. It’s much more powerful.

What the cloud will become, with time, is the machine that allows us to create other machines. The cloud is the freedom to think about a solution or product – a thing, and see to its creation without the need to spend time allocating and maintaining the resources required during the building process. It harkens back to a statistical analysis class I took over 20 years ago where the firm instruction was not to worry about the math, but ask the questions. That is what The Cloud offers – the freedom to ask the question and get the answer, without needing to tend to the mechanism used to solve the problem.

So where do I see The Cloud going? I see it becoming a resource that allows us to stop wasting energy on worrying about <em>HOW</em> something happens, so we can concentrate our efforts on <em>WHAT</em> happens. I’ve spent many years worrying about the how – the servers, networks, storage, etc. – and in the end, they will not matter. What will matter is our ability to leverage low-barrier-to-entry resources that scale indefinitely. IT professionals will either be relegated to hyper-specialization (AWS, IOT, Big Data,) or pivoting into the strong business consulting firms that ask the questions with their clients, understand their vertical, and know how to get answers. There will always be a need for support, but it will be focused around business goals, and not just the box that no one understands.

I will be expanding on this theme over the coming months. While I am sure that this journey will have its share of distractions and worthwhile discoveries, I am excited to jump in and look forward to your joining me in this adventure.

Stay tuned.

Georg Dauterman is the President of Valiant Technology, a New York-based Managed Service Provider specializing in solutions for creative industries. Early in his career, Georg worked in the IT departments...

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