If your IT adviser dismisses the cloud, ask questions


What do you do when you bring up cloud computing and your IT consultant starts throwing up objections to the cloud? Should you accept them at face value? Is your IT consultant right?After all, many small and medium-sized businesses have developed trusted relationships with their IT consultants and have grown to rely on their advice. Why might your IT consultant be resisting the cloud?Resistance to cloud solutions could be covering up the consultant's lack of knowledge when it comes to cloud computing. Consultants who have made careers taking care of your PCs and servers may have a vested interest in maintaining premises hardware and software. Knowing little about cloud computing may be OK with them, since they see little personal gain in retooling their skill sets to include the cloud.When I was breaking into the computer field, I worked for a short time with a value-added reseller who developed software that ran on small, multi-user Unix systems. This was around the time PCs were first being connected to local area networks. One day I asked him if he was going to port his software to the IBM PC platform and run it multi-user over a network.He told me never to mention PC networks to any of his customers. End of discussion.Well, I was interested in PC networks, so I left and created my own IT career as a PC networking journeyman. Small multi-user Unix systems went the way of the dodo in the 1990s as PC networks grew exponentially in popularity and became the connectivity technology used for sharing programs, data and peripherals in most businesses.History lessonIn the history of computing there have been a number of epochs starting with the batch processing environment of the mainframe computer.The mainframe was followed by the smaller, cheaper and interactive mini-computer.The mini-computer was displaced over time by PC networks, which were cheaper, more flexible and faster.Client-server computing extended PC networks into the realm of large database applications running on robust servers. PC networks, which provided connectivity to mainframes and mini-computers, were connected to the public Internet. The Internet gave rise to the World Wide Web and the emergence of eCommerce.At the turn of the century, server virtualization became the basis for building warehouse scale computing facilities able to run applications capable of supporting tens of thousands of users by Web browser over the Internet.Cloud computing services are now delivered on a pay-as-you-go or subscription basis over your Internet connection, available any time and anywhere you happen to be.An IT consultant who is unwilling to engage on using cloud computing in your business is no different than the Unix system reseller who never wanted to mention PC networks to his customers. Do you think his customers eventually heard about PC networking? After all, it became quite popular and was widely deployed in businesses of every size.And so it is with cloud computing services today. They are also becoming quite popular and are being widely deployed in businesses of every size.So where does this leave you when you have an IT consultant with objections to cloud computing?First, find out what your consultant is basing his objections on. Don't be surprised if security is the first thing the consultant mentions. The security "bomb" is frequently used to "blow up" a discussion about cloud computing. If the truth be told, security is pretty darn good in the cloud. Your consultant will have to do better than that to be convincing.Do they have more objections? If so, I'll take up some of them in a future column. Your take-away here is that any IT consultant who advises you flat-out against going to the cloud is doing you a disservice. In this situation, it would be worth your time to get a second opinion from an IT consultant who is well-versed in cloud computing and who can help you determine what business problems you could solve by moving to the cloud.Tim Wessels, cloud navigator at Oort Cloud Computing, Rindge, has worked with small and medium-sized businesses for over 25 years.