Enterprise IT wore out its welcome with the glass-house priesthood schtick about 30 years ago. But they were the only game in town, so the rest of the company had to suck it up.

But no more. Amazon Web Services – and many other cloud services such as the premium Nirvanix – has shown everyone that IT can stood up in minutes, not months, with a credit card and an internet connection. CapEx is nil, internal BS minimal and the results are instant.

The peasants are revolting
The great unwashed are rising up against their glass house oppressors. The only CIOs who think they aren’t competing with Amazon will be leaving soon.

IT’s monopoly was dented by the PC and hammered by mobile devices, so the cloud could be the coup-de-grace. Unless IT figures out how to do something it’s never done before: compete.

This is the same debate as off-shoring. Remember when everyone was shipping their tech support to India? Oh, the money they saved!

And the customers they lost. Dell did it; Apple didn’t. Who’s got the top-rated tech support now?

And while off-shoring makes sense for some work, it doesn’t make sense for all or even most of it. And that’s what IT needs to understand: not only what work they should be doing; or not doing; but how to compete for it.

Where IT can – and should – win
Legacy.Vital, unique to your business proprietary apps – a product configuration tool, say – aren’t going anywhere. But for everything else there are substitutes in the cloud. Those you’ll have to fight for in the coming years.

Private cloud services. Not every app can or should be moved to a public cloud. That’s where it makes sense for IT to have a private cloud strategy for at least backup, archive and DR.

Cloud service assurance. Who is better equipped to ensure that cloud providers are meeting their SLAs than IT? This is not a choke point – the idea is to assure the CFO and BUs that they’re getting what they are paying for. But it gives IT deep insight into what the business units want, and that’s valuable intelligence.

The StorageMojo take
Enterprise IT is now just one supplier among many. Premium cloud services compete with Amazon too, at prices that are considerably higher, but with better service.

But IT has two major advantages. You are physically there and – with the right training – you can offer better support than any web site. And, with the right infrastructure, you can offer lower cost services.

You won’t become a customer hero over night – there’s some history to overcome. It is possible to compete, and the sooner you start the better.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. Working on the Violin Memory Symphony video – see prior post – got me thinking about how enterprise IT must adapt to the cloud era.