There seems to be a clear trend in the world of cloud computing to return to IT fundamentals—the core problems that IT was set up to solve, such as data management, security, operations, governance, and development. All these things have been practiced for many decades and should be practiced now.
The issue is not that IT is ignoring the fundamentals as they build and deploy major business systems in the cloud. But sometimes people get distracted by shiny new technologies, or more often, older technology made to look shiny and new.
Yes, hyped technologies are valuable. New, innovative trends such as artificial intelligence, serverless, and containers are having a positive impact on business. I’m talking about focusing on the basics of technology and getting the foundation of everything right. I know it’s a tired analogy, but it’s much the same as building any structure. You can’t improve the building unless the foundation is solid. If you don’t, it will be harder to fix in the future.
Data is the best example of this. We’ve been doing data since the 60s. However, most enterprises are quick to admit that they are not doing data well in 2023, and their enterprise data is only providing a fraction of the value to the business that it could.
Why have we not fixed this? Data management systems are complex and overly heterogeneous for most enterprises, and as they added new ways to store and manage data over the years, the problem only became worse. Many IT shops view their data situation as “unfixable,” as far as taking it to a level of optimization where the business can leverage their data as a key strategic differentiator.
Instead, we focus on other things, such as data warehouses and data marts, some ad hoc data integration, even half-hearted attempts to build data lakes. Most of this work made things worse, as data storage and management systems became more complex and difficult to leverage holistically.
The core problem is not getting fixed. Data is scattered everywhere, there is no centralized control or governance, and while you can deploy some tactical data solutions, driving core analytics and business processes using near-perfect information (the fundamental objective) is largely out of reach.
Other neglected fundamentals:
- Development and deployment: Many believe they have a handle on it, but they have just migrated bad processes and poor development tools to the cloud.
- Security: A few systems and platforms are advanced, but others are neglected to a dangerous level. There is no unified or holistic approach.
Are you sensing a pattern? Basically, it’s the same issue as with data. The cloud providers have become the de facto technology strategy for enterprises these days, and to their credit, have shifted some attention to fundamentals. But they have done so in very stealthy ways that make the fundamentals look like new ideas.
Indeed, some things are new—data management, data analysis, and data governance systems. Despite looking new, they solve problems that are more fundamental in nature. Old problems, new tools.
Going back to basics is not a bad trend, I’m thinking. Are you ready to solve problems that most have given up on? I am.