Last week at a cloud session at Interop, Brian Butte, chief architect, financial services for AT&T, polled a room full of IT professionals, asking how many of them have back-end platforms that are less than 10 years old. Only three hands went up in the room of 25 or so.
“We’ve all got stuff that we’ve needed to change for years… by not changing them, we’re entrenching our past mistakes and limitations into the future,” Butte told the crowd.
Not only is transformation needed in back end platforms, but business models need to change to, Butte said. “Most systems are still based on a 1-800 inbound number. Customers now are interacting with businesses in new ways. They are using mobile apps, email, chat and social media,” Butte noted.
Businesses need to change to accommodate these communication channels, and the cloud will enable that change, according to Butte. “The cloud is the platform that e-business tools are being built on… your mobile, your social media, your real-time analytics, they will all run on the cloud,” he explained.
For instance, the cloud is the best platform to enable a truly mobile-first strategy, Butte said. The agility and the flexibility of the cloud will help organizations deal with the necessity of constantly optimizing and releasing new versions of their apps for different operating systems, he pointed out.
But most organizations right now don’t have the necessary talent to be so dependent on the cloud, Butte said. “The biggest problem in the cloud today is that the pace of innovation is outstripping our expertise,” he told the audience.
And gaining that expertise is difficult without greater collaboration across organizations. One banking IT professional explained to Butte that keeping developers on the same page is his organization’s biggest challenge in the cloud, Butte related. When one developer figures something out, the tools need to be in place to share that knowledge across the organization, or else each individual and team will have to figure everything out on their own, Butte explained. Some IT organizations might not feel secure in using some third-party collaboration tools to disseminate new knowledge through the organization, but without them it will take much longer to move to the cloud, Butte remarked.
Butte also drew a line between the lack of necessary skills for enterprise cloud adoption and the current immigration situation in the U.S. Last year it took months for all of the H-1B visas available for foreign workers to be claimed, Butte noted, where as in 2007 it only took days. “Developers in China, India and Eastern Europe are staying there now,” he shared. “We are going to have get a lot better in targeted recruiting and training [for talent].”