Cloud Ecosystems, Profitability, Common Sense and the New Order

Right or wrong, businesses need to be profitable—at least the ones that plan to be around next year. Put another way, it’s more about “Show Me the Money” than most of us are comfortable admitting. It may sound odd, but the linked scene from the movie Jerry Maguire was the inspiration for my latest Data Center Knowledge blog. Here, I discuss my eighth and final fundamental truth of cloud computing: altruistic motives do not generally keep the lights on.

How we see the importance of a business being profitable is a matter of context. For example, I spent part of my career in enterprise IT shops where I was somewhat insulated from this concept. Every year, I was given a budget. In general, and beyond those elements tied to specific projects, I knew my overall budget was a percentage of overall revenue. How any of this led back to actual profit was something I honestly didn’t consider.

At this point in my career, and in polite company, I’m willing to speak of these times as my “blissful ignorance” phase. To be honest, though, I routinely had to resolve profit conflicts as part of contract disputes with the companies we hired to help us through numerous hardware upgrades and systems modernizations. (I was always amazed at how quickly a contractor could determine that whatever wasn’t working was absolutely not their problem.) At the end of the discussion, though, we were held accountable by the enterprise for delivery, so we got very good at resolving these disagreements.

As I moved beyond IT, the significance of profitability hit me the hardest when I worked for a start-up. Here, we not only had to worry about generating enough cash to make our bi-weekly payroll, but we also needed to generate enough extra revenue to convince investors that our business model was viable. Anyone who’s started a business knows the drill. And it’s here that my common-sense attitude toward profitability forever changed. (This was also when I gained weight and my hair started turning gray.)

So what does any of this have to do with a cloud ecosystem? In my column, I explain that every element of this ecosystem has different goals, most tied to profitability. This is the new order of things. I also explain that IT’s role in this ecosystem (assuming you have the opportunity) is to use lessons you probably learned in other areas to help reduce the pain that’s likely to be part of the new order.

I hope you find this blog interesting. I welcome your feedback, so please join the discussion. You’re welcome to contact me via LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.