I’m Afraid I Can’t Do That, Dave

November 29th, 2011Cloud Computing


The decision to onboard applications into a cloud is not a simple technical decision. As a matter of fact, the biggest hurdle to reaching this decision appears to not be of a technical nature at all.  When we discuss the Unisys Secure Private Cloud with our customers, most CIOs and IT managers express the hurdle of addressing their stakeholder’s fear of automation and reluctance to lose control. Thus, the title of this post.

Perhaps many of you remember this post’s title as a portion of dialog in “2001 – A Space Odyssey.”  I can’t say I understand all of the messages in the movie, but the theme of automation gone wrong is quite clear.  Only when you hear HAL say, “Stop Dave, I’m afraid” do you realize that the fear of loss of control goes both ways.

A number of our cloud conversations with customers touch on a concern about creating and managing a huge number of Virtual Machine (VM) images for their developers because each developer requests his or her own customized VM.  Developers aren’t comfortable with the standardization that goes hand-in-hand with automation.  During these discussions, we explain that when we first started automating within the Unisys engineering labs, we were in a similar situation.  Provisioning was considered a custom request and required a minimum elapsed time of two weeks to be satisfied. Today, 95% of the requests in our lab are “standard” and, through automation, makes a VM available within 5 minutes. This has given our customers courage.

Other discussions are more general than addressing the customization issue.  An IT director explained that he was calling their cloud initiative a “cloud architecture” since their stakeholders were very uncomfortable with centralizing control of their computing into a cloud that is shared by multiple business units.  This is just one example of what we’ve discovered.

I’m reminded of a situation I found myself in a long time ago.  I was architecting an automated admissions system for a college.  The admissions officer had a box on her desk that was filled with 3×5 cards.  She literally put her arms around the box and said that she could not possibly work without it.

So, as we worry about which cloud technology is best for our customers, we need to understand something that continues to be the maxim regarding data center transformation.  The real competition to our solution is not technical.  It’s inertia and an inability to articulate the value of overcoming this inertia in the eyes of the stakeholders.

Of course, automation is an inexorable trend in our industry.

Nevertheless, customers will not respond to the attitude that “resistance is futile.”

Instead, we have found it beneficial to share our own experiences in our lab, as well as providing insights into how they can guide their stakeholders through a set of manageable steps to achieve the benefits that we have realized for ourselves and our clients.


Tags-   2001 - A Space Odyssey Cloud computing Virtual machine