The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Cloud automation and improvisation

jazz.pngI had a long conversation yesterday at VMWorld with Greg Murray of VMWare. It was one of those relatively accidental meetings that turns into a fairly deep discussion. Naturally Greg is deeply interested in virtualization and cloud and we started to talk about where cloud computing is headed and what kind of conversations should be happening within IT organizations.


We then started to head down some deep and diverse strategic passages. We talked about the value of measurement and the differences between various perspectives of the same metrics based on the functions and roles of the individuals present.

I mentioned my concern that for most of the people at VMWorld, they seemed to be thinking about cloud computing as a special case of IT automation, not the proving ground for the kind of automation issues that will be affecting all business processes over the coming years. He mentioned that one of the questions he has been asking CIOs and others is “How much automation is too much?”, “Is there a line in the sand that IT automation can’t cross?” He said that he has yet to find that demarcation of too much.


We got into an interesting comparison of cloud automation and music. Many musicians never leave the constraints of the sheet music that is in front of them. They still make beautiful music. Others improvise and take music to where it has never been before. The question for organizations going down the path of cloud automation is if it frees them to play jazz or should the organization be content to automate playing deliver a reliable product in a standard way, or will they swing somewhere in between. That kind of strategic perspective is a question for CIOs going forward who want to contemplate new value generation vs. cost savings.

| ‎09-04-2012 11:18 PM

I talked with Greg and he gave a bit more clairifcation of his perspective:

"Lastly, I want to highlight an aspect of our jazz/cloud conversation that is implicit, but critical (in my experience) when talking to IT folks about cloud in the context of jazz, and that is - mastery of the rudimentary requirements is assumed to be innate. IT folks get very scared when you throw this analogy out, unless they understand jazz musicianship. Lots of IT folks think jazz is just crazy, rule-less and ungoverned; that its practitioners are rule-breakers who follow no prescribed course. However, in studying these artists, it becomes clear that, whether through formal training or, simply, in the course of living, they understand and adhere to the fundamentals and "rules" subconsciously with keen structure and pervasive application. The difference - the key - is understanding that the music isn't about the rules. That's how I think IT & cloud are related to jazz. The runbook is still the runbook; compliance is still compliance. But, at the end of the day, IT is about the application and the consumer - not the runbook and compliance. Those must be innate."

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