By Walter Lindsay, Director of Solution Architecture, Liaison Technologies
We are used to what we know. What is not familiar is not as trusted. This applies to business processes and IT just as much as it applies in other areas of life.
I wanted to take a Sunday afternoon walk in Bengalaru (Bangalore, India) before a busy week of work. I poured over the satellite map and found a nearby forested park. It was not as I expected.
I ran to the park and had to walk through an almost-pile of trash to enter it from a side street. The children there played outside the park. The paths through the trees looked almost deserted, though it was surrounded by a teeming city. It did not strike me as a friendly place. I did not understand. My guess at the time was that jet lag was messing with me.
It turns out that early in the history of India, forests were places of danger. Brigands and wild animals lived there (*The Penguin History of Early India*, by Romila Thapar). When I described how Americans see forests as places to visit and enjoy, the people I worked with thought that was weird.
The mental and emotional structure that governs such responses can be called a “plausibility structure.” Some ideas seem reasonable, normal, expected and are received without challenge. Ideas outside the structure seem weird or even dangerous and offensive. Enjoying forests is outside the “plausibility structure” of the people I spoke with in India.
Cloud computing is outside the plausibility structure of many people. Letting any sensitive data outside the firewall is, what is right word? Ridiculous? Unthinkable? Stupid? Letting central, critical business processes rely on something outside the firewall is absurd. Career-ending. And stupid. It is outside the plausibility structure of many.
Let me rephrase the question. If you have core business processes which are not understood by anyone still living, is that a better situation than relying on a cloud computing data flow managed by people who do understand the data flow? If the latter, then sensitive data and critical business processes in the cloud enter the plausibility structure.
Cloud computing is relatively new. As such, it may be unfamiliar, or you may have heard about problems that occurred in a cloud computing context. That reinforces your pre-cloud computing plausibility structure.
At some point, the balance may shift, as with any long wave of innovation. The economy of scale, the ability to leverage expertise and resources on demand, etc. may make avoiding cloud computing (for places where it has uncontested benefits) the career-ending option.
A professor of network communications joked years ago that “the only reason all the computers in the world haven’t all crashed together is that they aren’t all connected together.” Cloud computing without appropriate safeguards is outside my plausibility structure. But such safeguards would need to be a separate discussion.
Liaison has been innovating in cloud computing for over a decade. It seems pretty normal to us and far more pleasant to work with than the systems we helped replace with cloud solutions.