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In Between the Numbers: What I Dream Of When I Dream of the Cloud

March 13, 2012 - 1 Comment

What I Dream Of When I Dream of the Cloud

  What I dream of when I dream of the Cloud… a memo from the secret files of a Retail CIO:

 To:                   Retail Technology Sales Types

From:              Me

Re:                  Cloud

Dear Retail Tech Sales Types (especially you hardware guys):

OK. I get it. I’ve been reading about Cloud in InfoWeek for years. It’s a topic in every conference.

But now Cloud is your next big thing, and you have new slide decks to show me. Fine. But let me tell you something.

If I hear about all your new products, and if you show me a slide with a “Public-Private-Hybrid” diagram, I will scream. Or cry.

I’ll say it again – I get it. The platform’s burning, the paradigm’s shifting, the tide’s rising – use whatever cliché you like. But if you want me to do anything more than wait for your lips to quit moving…Take the time to understand this whole Cloud thing from my side.

As far as I’m concerned, Cloud is a combination of a number of things that I’m already doing. Things like virtualization. Like purchasing on-demand services (such as extra e-com capacity for 4th quarter). Like using software as a service (wake me when you get past that slide). Like migrating to a thin-client, network-based architecture. (If it was easy as you suggest, I would have done it yesterday.)

So drop the slides. Do something that helps me.

Help me figure out the applications. I’ve got custom-built, mission-critical apps that are older than your children. I’ve got app vendors who are moving to Cloud slower than snails. I’ve got point-of-sale that, if it goes dark, the store shuts down.

Help me figure out compliance and SOX. Find me someone who can sit down with my legal and audit teams and explain it in their language.

Help me figure out the bandwidth. Not just of my existing capabilities, but of the brave new digital media future. Those wild-eyed guys in marketing are talking about interactive screens and tablets and smartphones. I do the math, and that looks like a 70MB pipe per store to me.

How do you think that’s going to fly in the CFO’s office? For all 1,000 stores?

Help me figure out the security.  Help me learn the ecosystem – what’s available out there – the apps, the services, the whole bit. (You think I have time to study this with all these meetings?)

Help me with the total migration to the network-based architecture. I’m tired of the big break-fix maintenance bill. I’m tired of refreshing servers in every store. I’m tired of the software tax.

Most of all, help me map a migration path for my entire shop and for my business. Help me find the place to start with the lowest risk. So I can get some quick wins. So I can get some momentum. So I can get a little more budget.

 Yes, it’ll take time, and there won’t be a PO this week if you do it. But when it comes to Cloud, that’s what I need.


 Your Friendly Retail CIO

 (with thanks to good friend Bob Anderson)

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  1. Great post Jon.