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Will new cloud technology save you? Almost never

Deloitte on Cloud Blog

New technologies offer new ways to solve hard problems. However, it’s almost never the complete answer, and, many times, not even the right answer. So what can IT do?

February 15, 2019

A blog post by David Linthicum, managing director, chief cloud strategy officer, Deloitte Consulting LLP

What do containers, serverless computing, and machine learning have in common? They are all newer, hyped cloud computing technologies that have been the talk of the tech press and tech conferences.

Cloud providers have an incentive to keep building new technology, to keep their services compelling, to get ahead of the hype cycle, and thus make more money. That said, people focus on the newest thing, and we’ll focus on what’s hip and cool most of the time versus more traditional approaches and technology.

Let’s not blame cloud for this trait; it’s been around since I got into computing. However, with the advent of cloud computing it’s gotten worse. I call this “manage by magazine,” and it’s common behavior amongst IT professionals that may not serve their companies as well as it should.

The issue is that what’s new and hot may not be the right fit. There are upsides and downsides to most cloud computing services out there, and the ability to balance these tradeoffs is a career skill that’s we’ve yet to perfect. Instead we seem to move to and from different technologies like flocks of birds.

Not that this is always a bad thing. New technologies offer new ways to solve hard problems. However, it’s almost never the complete answer, and, many times, not even the right answer. While those who shout “serverless” or “containers” in meetings feel empowered and hip to new tech, they may be suggesting the wrong solution. Moreover, even if it works, it could turn out to be the least efficient solution that ends up costing millions more.

So, what can IT do? I have a few suggestions:

  • Understand that the most optimal solution may not be the latest solution. In the end, it’s only a single collection of technology that will be the most effective, and it’s often more traditional approaches that win out.
  • Keep an open mind. This means that you may have to push back on the cool kids who are focused on what’s new and hot versus what may work better.
  • Make sure to research all solutions available and understand them in the context of your requirements. One solution set will quickly rise to the top.

Sometimes it’s good to keep new technology in mind, but judge new and old technology on an equal basis.

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