CIO · Cloud

Three key changes to look for in 2018

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2017 has officially come to a close and 2018 has already started with a bang. As I look forward to what 2018 brings, the list is incredibly long and detailed. The genres of topics are equally long and cover people, process, technology, culture, business, social, economic and geopolitical boundaries…just to name a few.

Here are three highlights on my otherwise lengthy list…

EVOLVING THE CIO

I often state that after spending almost three decades in IT, now is the best time to work in technology. That statement is still true today.

One could not start a conversation about technology without first considering the importance of the technology leader and role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). The CIO, as the most senior person leading the IT organization, takes on a very critical role for any enterprise. That was true in the past, and increasingly so moving forward.

In my post ‘The difference between the Traditional CIO and the Transformational CIO’, I outline many of the differences in the ever-evolving role of the CIO. Those traits will continue to evolve as the individual, organization, leadership and overall industry change to embrace a new way to leverage technology. Understanding the psyche of the CIO is something one simply cannot do without experiencing the role firsthand. Yet, understanding how this role is evolving is exactly what will help differentiate companies in 2018 and beyond.

In 2018, we start to see the emerging role of ‘Transformational’ CIO in greater numbers. Not only does the CIO see the need for change, so does the executive leadership team of the enterprise. The CIO becomes less of a technology leader and more of a business leader that has responsibility for technology. As I have stated in the past, this is very different from that of the ‘CEO of Technology’ concept that others have bandied about. In addition, there is a sense of urgency for the change as the business climate becomes increasingly competitive from new entrants and vectors. Culture and geopolitical changes will also impact the changing role of the CIO and that of technology.

TECHNOLOGY HITS ITS STRIDE

In a similar vein to that of the CIO, technology finds its stride in 2018. Recent years have shown a lot of experimentation in the hopes of leverage and success. This ‘shotgun’ approach has been very risky…and costly for enterprises. That is not to say that experimentation is a bad thing. However, the role of technology in mainstream business evolves in 2018 where enterprises face the reality that they must embrace change and technology as part of that evolution.

Executives will look for ways to, mindfully, leverage technology to create business advantage and differentiation. Instead of sitting at the extremes of either diving haphazardly into technology or analysis paralysis, enterprises will strike a balance to embrace technology in a thoughtful, but time-sensitive way. The concept of ‘tech for tech sake’ becomes a past memory like that of the dialup modem.

One hopeful wish is that boards will stop the practice of dictating technology decisions as they have in the past with mandating their organization use cloud. That is not to say cloud is bad, but rather to suggest that a more meaningful business discussion take place that may leverage cloud as one of many tools in an otherwise broadening arsenal.

CLOUD COMES OF AGE IN ALL FORMS

Speaking of cloud, a wholesale shift takes place in 2018 where we pass the inflection point in our thinking about cloud. For the enterprise, public cloud has already reached a maturity point with all three major public cloud providers offering solid solutions for any given enterprise.

Beyond public cloud, the concept of private cloud moves from theory to reality as solutions mature and the kinks worked out. Historically, private cloud was messy and challenging even for the most sophisticated enterprise to adopt. The theory of private cloud is incredibly alluring and now has reached a point where it can become a reality for the average enterprise. Cloud computing, in its different forms has finally come of age.

 

In summary, 2017 has taught us many tough lessons in which to leverage in 2018. Based on the initial read as 2017 came to a close, 2018 looks to be another incredible year for all of us! Let us take a moment to be grateful for what we have and respect those around us. The future is bright and we have much to be thankful for.

Happy New Year!

CIO · Cloud

3 ways enterprises can reduce their cybersecurity risk profile

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If you are an executive (CIO, CISO, CEO) or board member, cybersecurity is top of mind. One of the top comments I often hear is: “I don’t want our company (to be) on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.” Ostensibly, the comments are in the context of a breach. Yet, many gaps still exist between avoiding this situation and reality. Just saying the words is not enough.

The recent Equifax breach brings to light many conversations with enterprises and executive teams about shoring up their security posture. The sad reality is that cybersecurity spending often happens immediately after a breach happens. Why is that? Let us delve into several of the common reasons why and what can be done.

ENTERPRISE SECURITY CHALLENGES

There are a number of reasons why enterprises are challenged with cybersecurity issues. Much of it stems from the perspective of what cybersecurity solutions provide. To many, the investment in cybersecurity teams and solutions is seen as an insurance policy. In order to better understand the complexities, let us dig into a few of the common issues.

Reactive versus Proactive

The first issue is how enterprises think about cybersecurity. There are two aspects to consider when looking at how cybersecurity is viewed. The first is that enterprises often want to be secure, but are unwilling or unable to provide the funding to match. That is, until a breach occurs. This has created a behavior within IT organizations where they leverage breaches to gain cybersecurity funding.

Funding for Cybersecurity Initiatives

Spending in cybersecurity is often seen in a similar vein as insurance and comes back to risk mitigation. Many IT organizations are challenged to get adequate funding to appropriately protect the enterprise. It should be noted that no enterprise will be fully secured and to do so creates a level of complexity and cost that would greatly impact the operations and bottom line of the enterprise. Therefore, a healthy balance is called for here. Any initiatives should follow a risk mitigation approach, but also consider the business impact.

Shifting to Cybersecurity as part of the DNA

Enterprises often think of cybersecurity as an afterthought to a project or core application. The problem with this approach is that, as an afterthought, the project or application is well on its way to production. Any required changes would be ancillary and rarely get granular in how they could be applied. More mature organizations are shifting to cybersecurity as part of their core DNA. In this culture, cybersecurity becomes part of the conversation early and often…and at each stage of the development. By making it part of the DNA, each member of the process is encouraged to consider how to secure their part of the project.

Cybersecurity Threats are getting more Sophisticated

The level of sophistication from cybersecurity threats is growing astronomically. No longer are the traditional tools adequate to protect the enterprise. Enterprises are fighting an adversary that is gaining ground exponentially faster than they are. In essence, no one enterprise is able to adequately protect themselves and must rely on the expertise of others that specialize in this space.

Traditional thinking need not apply. The level of complexity and skills required is growing at a blistering clip. If your organization is not willing or able to put the resources behind staying current and actively engaged, the likelihood of trouble is not far way.

THREE WAYS TO REDUCE CYBERSECURITY RISK

While the risks are increasing, there are steps that every enterprise large and small can invoke to reduce their risk profile. Sadly, many of these are well known, yet not as well enacted. The first step is to change your paradigm regarding cybersecurity. Get proactive and do not assume you know everything.

Patch, Patch, Patch

Even though regular patching is a requirement for most applications and operating systems, enterprises are still challenged to keep up. There are often two reasons for this: 1) disruption to business operations and 2) resources required to update the application or system. In both cases, the best advice is to get into a regular rhythm to patch systems. When you make something routine, it builds muscle memory into the organization that increases the accuracy, lessens the disruption and speeds up the effort.

Regular Validation from Outsiders

Over time, organizations get complacent with their operations. Cybersecurity is no different. A good way to avoid this is to bring in a trusted, outside organization to spot check and ‘tune up’ your cybersecurity efforts. They can more easily spot issues without being affected by your blind spots. Depending on your situation, you may choose to leverage a third-party to provide cybersecurity services. However, each enterprise will need to evaluate their specific situation to best leverage the right approach for them.

Challenge Traditional Thinking

I still run into organizations that believe perimeter protections are the best actions. Another perspective is to conduct security audits with some frequency. Two words: Game Over. While those are both required, security threats today are constant and unrelenting. Constant, evolving approaches are required today.

As we move to a more complicated approach to IT services (SaaS, Public Cloud, Private Cloud, On Premises, Edge Computing, Mobile, etc), the level of complexity grows. Now layer in that the data that we view as gold is spread across those services. The complexity is growing and traditional thinking will not protect the enterprise. Leveraging outsiders is one approach to infuse different methods to address this growing complexity.

 

One alternative is to move to a cloud-based alternative. Most cloud-based alternatives have methods to update their systems and applications without disrupting operations. This does not absolve the enterprise from responsibility, but does offer an approach to leverage more specialized expertise.

The bottom line is that our world is getting more complex and cybersecurity is just one aspect. The rate of complexity and sophistication from cybersecurity attacks is only growing and more challenging for enterprises to keep up. Change is needed, the risks are increasing and now is the time for action.

CIO

IT has a serious credibility problem and does not realize it

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One challenge for many IT organizations is that of credibility. In a recent post, I discussed the importance of credibility and the network effect in IT. What is credibility? According to Merriam-Webster, credibility is ‘the quality or power of inspiring belief or (the) capacity for belief.’

The question every IT professional, whether the CIO or otherwise should ask is: What is my reputation with those outside of IT? Do others outside of my organization believe me? Put a different way, do others outside of IT find my ability credible. This may sound strange, but could also be seen as a form of effectiveness for the IT leader and their organization. Sadly, the answer to this question differs on who you ask. When talking about this with CIOs and IT staff, I often find the answer to be ‘yes’. However, when talking with folks outside of the IT organization, the answer is often ‘no.’ I have seen this play out across a number of organizations.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CREDIBILITY

At this point, some may be asking: “So what?” or “Why is this so important?” The short answer is: without credibility, it is increasingly more difficult if not impossible to be effective in IT. For the CIO we often talk about wanting a “seat at the table” as if it is an entitlement. Bottom line: it is something earned, not freely given. Nor is it an entitlement. And without credibility, it is a non-starter. If you cannot effectively manage basics, do not expect to be included in the more interesting and strategic efforts.

Credibility provides the ability to navigate through these points in a meaningful way. Getting to a point where one can transact on their credibility takes time and work. It is important to focus on building credibility over time and avoiding the missteps that erode it.

KNOW YOUR BLIND SPOTS

One way to avoid missteps is awareness of your blind spots. Everyone has them. Few will admit to their existence and even fewer will actively seek to understand and manage them. Yet, understanding where they exist puts you in a very powerful position.

Part of understanding your blind spots is to genuinely listen…and with an open mind. Many in IT are quick to judge, offer alternative solutions or take a defensive posture. Yet, there are times when the best approach is simply to listen and learn. If we, as IT professionals, are truly interested in being perceived as change agents, we need to be genuinely open to feedback. Remember that perception of those outside of IT is reality. It matters less about what IT thinks about itself internally. Do we have all the answers? No.

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS

By seeking out input and taking the feedback seriously, we can learn where our blind spots are. We also do something else in the process. We build stronger relationships. The positive engagement with others opens the door to deeper conversations where folks learn more about each other. These relationships will naturally lead to showing empathy and appreciation in understanding each other’s perspective.

Let’s face it: IT professionals are not that great at building relationships with those outside of IT. Yet, that is exactly what we need to do. Perception is reality and it is important to understand these differences. Remember, it is more important what they think, not what you think. Perception is reality.

Part of building relationships is knowing when to fall on your sword. This is particularly hard for IT folks who have come up in a culture where failure is seen as a sign of weakness. More important is to maintain a healthy balance. Again, empathy and a good dose of humility are good attributes.

Following these steps while keeping an open mind will help build credibility with those most critical to your success. Understand your blind spots and work on building strong, healthy relationships both within IT and externally. The combination of these actions will change the perception and build credibility.

Business · CIO

Understanding the Network Effect in IT

When discussing the combination of Information Technology (IT) & network, one quickly runs to thinking about cabling, connectors, switches, hubs and routers. However, there is another type of network that has nothing to do with technology yet directly impacts the effectiveness of an IT organization. This type of network involves people, empathy, credibility and humility.

THE NETWORK EFFECT

Many enterprise organizations believe that the Chief Information Officer (CIO) or the senior most person in IT is the key person that engages with the rest of the company. That is only slightly correct as it ignores the impact from the rest of the IT organization. And it is this impact that actually has a more significant bearing on how those outside of the IT organization view the organization itself. What is at work here is the Network Effect.

How does the network effect affect IT? Let us assume that the CIO spends all 40 hours each week engaging with those outside of IT. Yet, their staff of 100 only spends 20% of their time engaging outside of IT. That would equate to (100 staff x 20% of time x 40 hrs/wk) 800 hours each week or 20x more time than the CIO.

While it is important for the CIO to carry a consistent and appropriate message when engaging with those outside of IT, the same is true for rest of the IT organization. The more people that engage with folks outside of IT, the greater the network effect. And from a numbers perspective, the impact is significant. So is the risk.

UPSIDES AND DOWNSIDES

Creating a consistent message and culture is a critical objective for any leader, not just the CIO. However, when it comes to IT, there are other factors that can turn a positive opportunity into a negative experience.

Most leaders understand the importance of credibility and empathy. This is especially true when considering the support nature of an IT organization. When moving further into the organization, these qualities are often less developed or immature. As a consequence, a potentially positive interaction can quickly turn negative in the form of diminishing credibility for the entire organization.

Each organization is unique in their culture, leadership, and way they engage. Whether it be the CIO or their staff, one should never lose sight of the big picture as it provides the context and guidance for everyone in the company. It is easy to get caught up in the situation and lose sight of the overall situation. Even the smallest actions can have a demonstrable impact.

Too often, IT folks try to mask transparency and quickly run toward solutions centered around their frame of reference which often comes from a siloed perspective. As such, they lack empathy in the user’s situation and how it relates to the big picture.

THE SOFT SKILLS

In IT, we tend to focus on the hard skills of technology with less emphasis on the softer side. Yet, it is those soft skills that can quickly turn a situation into either a positive or negative one. Showing genuine empathy to a situation without placing blame creates a very different perspective.

In the end, whether you are a CIO, leader of an IT organization or individual contributor, it is important to understand the impact of your actions and the actions of your staff. Even those interactions that may seem innocuous can have a resounding and lasting effect. It can lead to building credibility or tearing it down. And credibility is what provides the foundation for relationships, yet we often do not think about how our actions build or diminish it. Hence, the network effect creates a level of opportunity and challenge.

CIO

The lost generation in technology

 

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The technology industry is in crisis and yet many do not see the warning signs. How can an industry with as much innovation as the technology industry be in peril? The root of the issue rests with several complications…and people. As leaders, we hold a substantial responsibility to the very people we lead. Yes, many may consider them ‘human resources’, but they are still people. These are people with their own lives, families to support, communities to contribute to, and are often young folks trying to put their fingerprint on the world to make a difference. Yet, we may be leading the very flock we hope to flourish right off a cliff.

LEADING THE CHARGE

Passion. The entrepreneur is often driven by a fire in their belly driven by passion. Passionate about solving a specific problem or issue they often experience in their own life. That drive exudes into the organizations they form and people they lead. The organization is built around a common premise and passion.

The psychology of the people, however, is driven by several competing factors. The further one gets into an organization, the further away their focus from the common premise. One of the strongest diverging factors is money. We hear the stories about startups that turned into billion-dollar goliaths and in the process made many employees very wealthy. There is a story that when Microsoft went public in 1986, it created many millionaires overnight. It was said there was at least one millionaire in every hallway. One cannot ignore the allure of making it big is enticing.

FOCUS ON THE WRONG OBJECTIVE

Creating a common premise around passion is key. Founders are often passionate about solving a much-needed problem. That is not the issue. The question is how big of a problem is it and for whom? Focusing on a niche problem has a very different potential than solving a much larger problem. The potential number of customers, value and therefore upside is very different. Of course, larger problems may draw more competitors to the space too. Several dynamics affect choices around focus.

In addition to understanding the problem, one must understand who is the right target. There is a general assumption the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is still the ultimate target for anything technology related. Unfortunately, it not be further from the truth. And the target is changing over time (read: The difference between the Traditional CIO and the Transformational CIO). Many decisions may have been made by the CIO in the past are now made by others and may or may not include the CIO.

The complexities in understanding and knowing your target are ever-changing. Blindly assuming the CIO is your key target can lead to wasted effort, missed sales and hinder success.

A HARD LESSON TO LEARN…AGAIN

In the first dot-com era, we learned two things: 1) stock options are not worth anything unless there is an equity event and 2) many things will devalue stock options over time. Unfortunately, we are learning these two lessons again. Entrepreneurs, rightfully so, empathetically convey their passion to solve a problem. Prospective staff join firms at the advent of potentially solving said problem and making a significant fortune in the process.

It is this very perception that is woefully flawed and leads to the lost generation in technology. Staffers are willing to take significant pay cuts in lieu of stock options. Essentially, staff are working below their potential pay value on the prospect that the stock options turn into greater value.

Yet, very few will experience this outcome. Why? To pay out, 1) the company must succeed and experience an equity event that is large enough to pay staff stock options, 2) the stock options must not devalue through additional investment and other activities, and 3) the staff member must stay on-board long enough to vest. That is a tall order to run the gauntlet and succeed on the outcome.

NOT ALL DOOM AND GLOOM: CHOOSE CAREFULLY

Does this spell doom and gloom for startups, their entrepreneurs and the staff that choose to come on board? Absolutely not! The potential for the technology could not be brighter. The issue is one of focus and choice. If the energy put into startups trying to solve niche issues was redirected toward solving big problems, the outcomes would change. Our industry has many large problems to solve.

It is hard to get entrepreneurs focused on the larger problems. At a recent event, a panel of young college-age entrepreneurs was asked a number questions about their choices and projects. Many of them had tinkered with both software and hardware projects. However, many ultimately chose to focus on hardware projects. The panel was asked why that was the case. The answer: Unlike software, with hardware there is a tangible result. Something you can touch and see immediate benefit from.

Obviously, there is a gap between what is needed versus what is happening. Entrepreneurs must consider the ramifications (good and bad) of their decisions. Staff must consider their passion and ensure that their values and drive align. Staff need to go into opportunities with both eyes open and not assume a major payday. The combination of the two will lead to greater success among startups and solving bigger, yet unsolved, problems within the industry. At the same time, the energy of people will go toward solving big problems with meaningful outcomes for all those involved.

CIO

The difference between the Traditional CIO and the Transformational CIO

Over the past several years, the role of the Chief Information Office (CIO) has changed. If you are a CIO, do you know which type you most closely align with…or aspire to be? If you are working with a CIO, do you know the characteristics and why they are so important? The details are incredibly important regardless of your stakeholder status as a partner, customer, board member or fellow c-suite member.

The CIO’s job is hard and complicated. To gain a full appreciation of why, one needs to truly understand the anthropology of IT. That alone is worthy of a book. Suffice it to say that decades were spent creating the role of the CIO and IT culture. One cannot simply unwind decades of culture over the course of a couple of years. This is where my concept of the Three-Legged Race for transformation comes in. The CIO, IT organization and rest of the organization must work together for transformation to truly take shape.

THE TRADITIONAL CIO

When most of us think of a CIO, we are thinking of the traditional CIO. There are several characteristics that identify the traditional CIO. Many of the traditional CIO characteristics are centered around building an organization that supports technology. This makes sense, and fits well for organizations that have not started their digital transformation journey.

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However, the role of the traditional CIO is in decline. As more organizations recognize the strategic value that technology plays, the demand for the CIO shifts from traditional to transformational.

THE TRANSFORMATIONAL CIO

The transformational CIO is a business leader first who happens to have responsibility for IT. To be clear, this does not mean a business leader that does not have experience leading IT. It means that the leader is highly experienced in leading business and IT, but focused on the business aspects as the driver for IT.

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The characteristics of the transformational CIO are quite different from that of the traditional CIO. In general, they are business centric and less focused on technology. In many ways, unlike the traditional CIO, the transformational CIO is having the same conversations as the rest of the c-suite. Put a different way, if the conversation is not one that the CEO would have, neither would the CIO. Transformational CIOs are very much looking for business opportunities like that of the CEO or many of the other c-level executives. The transformational CIO is perceived by the other c-level executives as an equal. This is a dramatic shift from the traditional CIO. The key words here are ‘perceived by others’.

MAKING THE SHIFT FROM TRADITIONAL TO TRANSFORMATIONAL

At the risk of being over-inclusive, every enterprise will need to take the digital transformation journey. Technology is playing a more central role to every enterprise. Put a different way, technology is quickly becoming the strategic weapon for every enterprise. Think of companies that have disrupted different industries. In most cases, technology was central to their ability to disrupt their industry.

As part of that journey, every enterprise will need to rely more on a transformational CIO. However, that transition does not happen overnight. Recall that it is not just the CIO that must transition (read: Transforming IT Requires a Three-Legged Race). Transformation, much like culture changes, is a journey. There is no specific end-point or finish line.

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One could ask, how does a CIO make the transition. For each CIO, the journey is incredibly personal and transformational in their own way. Shifting paradigms of thinking from traditional characteristics to transformational characteristics is not trivial. It requires re-learning much of what we have learned over several decades. Essentially, we are learning a new role. A new job. A new way of thinking. For those that do make the transition, the change is incredibly rewarding not just for the CIO, but the team they lead, the larger company they work for and ultimately the customers they serve.

DOES THE CMO OR CDO REPLACE THE CIO?

The transformational journey takes time, yet customers and executives want immediate change. How is this gap addressed? Speculation suggests that the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or Chief Digital Officer (CDO) will replace the CIO and fill the proverbial gap (read: The CMO is not replacing the CIO and here’s why.). There is value in the CMO or CDO filling some or part of the gap in the interim. However, over time, the transformational CIO is well equipped and best suited to address these changes. The gap, while significant, is only a temporary phenomenon.

CIO CMO Transforming IT

The time to start the transformational journey is now. Time is not your friend. With any organizational change, it is a team effort. It may start with the CIO, but will require the support and understanding of the entire c-level leadership team and IT organization. For many traditional CIOs, that is easier said than done. The best place to start is to establish a vision that sets the tone and cadence. From there, examples and success will quickly change the perspectives of those that may have been skeptical in the past. In addition, those that lead the transformation journey will find the process rewarding on many levels.

CIO

Is the concept of enterprise lock in a red herring?

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There is quite a bit of discussion about the concept of lock-in by pundits, providers and consumers. While I take the perspective of looking at lock-in within the enterprise IT space, the same issues apply broadly to a number of industries, products and consumers.

So, is lock-in really a concern for the enterprise? Or just noise that distracts from the real issues? To answer those questions, we need to look at the problem from a few different angles.

PROVIDERS LOVE THE CONCEPT OF LOCK IN 

Lock-in is something that just about any provider loves to consider, talk about and use as ammunition against their competitors. From the provider perspective, lock-in creates sticky customer relationships due to switching costs. By creating a tighter relationship with the customer, they are more apt to stay rather than start the process of untangling the web of connections with any specific provider. A good example that many people tout is the lock-in related to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions. Once you install the system and integrate all of the connections, it is incredibly hard and costly to consider switching. Hence the very high switching costs. ERP is not alone. Most enterprise solutions today suffer from these same issues.

For the provider, lock-in provides some flexibility to get away with flaws and system issues. Providers know that customers will not switch to an alternative solution until the pain threshold reaches a certain point. Again, this is where the switching costs come into play. Keep in mind that switching costs are just hard costs. However, costs come in many different forms…read on.

DOES THE CLOUD CHANGE LOCK IN?

In a word, no. Cloud does change the delivery method in which enterprises consume services from providers. However, many of the core issues that result in switching costs are still present in cloud-based solutions. Yes, lock-in is still present in cloud-based solutions. There are a few variables that may change the pictures for specific customers. But on the whole for most customers, cloud does not improve or worsen the lock-in situation.

LOOKING AT THE ENTERPRISE PERSPECTIVE

On the surface, enterprise IT leaders hate the concept of lock-in. Lock-in creates a restrictive situation that works counter to the flexibility that many IT leaders strive for. But the reality is that lock-in exists everywhere. Just about every enterprise solution today has some form of lock-in. From the most basic file sharing solution to email to enterprise software solutions, lock-in exists in many forms.

To take this a step further, one need to understand the enterprise perspective from a few facets. Many pundits focus on the technology itself. Yes, that is one facet to consider, but not the only one. Enterprise IT leaders must consider integration and user interactions as well. A good example of this is email. One may believe moving from one email solution to another is relative trivial. In an enterprise, that is simply not the case. Switching from Microsoft Exchange running in your corporate data center to Google Apps (for example) running in the cloud presents a number of challenges. Sure, there is work to migrate user mailboxes and change application integration points from one system to another. There are also challenges around resource allocation in terms of license agreement, organizational responsibilities and data center resource allocation. However, one issue that is often misunderstood, misrepresented or simply ignored is the user interaction component. Training users to switch to a new way of doing things is not a trivial matter. At some point the costs will need to be weighed against the risks. While the upside may seem palatable, the downside may quickly change that perspective when weighing all of the facets.

SO IS LOCK IN A RED HERRING?

While many tout that lock-in is something that enterprises can avoid, the reality is those statements are often only looking at a single facet. One of the more challenging factors to considering lock-in within enterprises today is data. As the size of data grows exponentially, the term Data Gravity comes into play. Not to mention that the sheer time, cost and risk to simply moving the data becomes challenging. Even with faster and cheaper bandwidth options, it is still faster to move large quantities of data via FedEx than over the wire. And therefore the switching costs related to data are only going to grow regardless of the application or service consuming the data.

Change is hard. Change at scale is incredibly complicated and there are many factors for an enterprise IT leader to consider. And here is where switching costs come into play for enterprises. The reality is that lock-in is a reality in our world and bound to only get more complicated as time goes on.

Replacing one solution with another to avoid lock-in is a red herring. The only real way to reduce the switching costs is to break down the problem into smaller components. That may be easier said than done and simply not possible with many enterprise solutions today.