cloud computing adoption
By John McEleney
In Ray Ozzie’s thoughtful memorandum to employees, “Dawn of a New Day,” he implores everyone in the company to embrace the cloud or perish. What I found even more interesting are his comments about complexity. "Complexity kills," said Ozzie. "Complexity sucks the life out of users, developers and IT. Complexity makes products difficult to plan, build, test and use. Complexity introduces security challenges. Complexity causes administrator frustration."
I think Ray is correct on both fronts: people need to push forward towards the cloud as it transforms the way most companies build, manage and consume applications and infrastructure. The danger as we adopt this major platform shift is that we undermine its impact by adding huge amounts of complexity to our organizations or our technology platforms.
Let’s be clear, no one starts out a project by saying, “I’m going to design the most complex system possible.” Unfortunately, it is simply human nature that complexity enters our thought processes and systems incrementally and before we know it, we have tangled messes. Why is this? Is it because it’s just too hard to make things simple? Is it simply a fact that these systems are just technically complex? Or have we created a tech culture that believes that you get more “value” or “stickiness” by designing a complex solution?
Simplicity requires determination and focus. We must have the courage to stand up to our peers and assert that usability and simplicity are not synonymous with being underpowered, but rather the opposite - the system is even more powerful. This is often much hard to do as part of a broader organization than as an individual developer. This must be part of the DNA of the corporate culture – otherwise simplicity will be rejected by the organization’s “complexity antibodies.”
Of course, enterprise infrastructure and cloud infrastructures have real issues around security, control, automation, security, resiliency, performance… these are all complex, hairy problems that require some pretty serious heavy technical lifting. But it’s equally clear to me that the cloud provides a new, fresh canvas on which we can innovate, create, design and dream about how to meet broad customer needs without drowning our innovation in a never-ending spiral of complexity.
Is it worth it for companies to invest in building a culture around simplicity? As the market cap of Apple, a company that is laser-focused on eliminating complexity, grows to $280B and outstrips Microsoft’s by almost 30%, I think the market has spoken.