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Why some companies are waiting to adopt the cloud

January 15, 2019 - 4 min read

The history of Silicon Valley is riddled with big ideas that initially seemed plausible but, for one reason or another, proved a "failure to launch" when it came time for deployment and to actually start working for businesses.

But can the same be said for the cloud? In this blog, I’m going to take this skeptical view, shaded by history, and apply it to the cloud. Even today, with the increased adoption of cloud services, many companies are taking a “wait-and-see” approach. But is such an approach wise?

In the case of the cloud, waiting will have consequences, as the cloud has become inevitable in my opinion. I believe companies may fall behind if they assume the cloud is the kind of technological advance that can be adopted later on in its cycle when it’s fully productized. So, do the reasons most companies give for waiting to adopt a cloud model actually stack up?

The wait-and-see arguments

When talking to businesses about why they have yet to embrace the cloud, you will generally hear that it’s not that they are opposed to adopting the cloud eventually, but it just isn’t the right time. For instance, many European companies will say that privacy and workers’ counsel laws prevent them from using the cloud legally.

But this rationale is not supported by fact. Generally, the cloud allows companies to comply with laws and can provide better security to prevent data breaches more easily than traditional network and data centre technology. 

Some companies will say they’re taking the wait-and-see approach because of their investments—both financial and in the form of in-house expertise and resources—in their existing technologies. Their IT staff is comfortable with and knows how to build data centres and networks and, therefore, overhauling all of this to embrace the cloud can seem daunting. However, I firmly believe companies need to realise that continued investments in outdated technologies are never a good idea.

Finally, companies will sometimes adopt a wait-and-see approach because they fear that network connectivity cannot handle the cloud or because of a fear that the cloud is still immature. Both of these arguments are increasingly out of date, as the cloud has already proved itself in numerous businesses (just look at the way internet giants like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google are delivering cloud-based products and services with tremendous success). Internet connectivity is constantly improving in performance, reliability, and availability, so concerns over these matters should no longer be barriers.

The real reasons some companies are waiting on the cloud

Given that the arguments for taking the wait-and-see approach all seem to be contradicted by reality, it’s worth exploring what I believe are the real motivations as to why some companies are slow to adopt the cloud. And core to these motivations: human fears and resistance to change.

People are naturally hesitant to make significant changes, especially when they are invested in the way things work currently. You can look at electric cars as a current example; the technology is proven, but many people still assert that they can’t use an electric car because its charge will run out while they’re using it. But most drives fall well under the 200-mile ranges of current best-in-class electric vehicles. It’s thus common to see people justifying their resistance to change with irrational arguments.

People make these arguments when they’re operating from a place of fear. In the case of the cloud, it’s not just fear of change, but also of the unknown and the fear that the cloud could cost them their current job. After all, the cloud streamlines many features of the network and data centre world, which could inevitably lead to IT consolidation. I have also heard many attribute their delay in adopting the cloud to being overwhelmed with their current workloads.

But it’s worth remembering that organisations that operate from a place of fear—whether it’s fear of change, the size of the undertaking, or the unknown—are never going to be the ones charting the path forward. Inertia doesn’t lead to success, so organisations should examine whether their fears of the cloud are justified or if they’re holding them back from utilizing a technology that can improve their business.

As I outlined in an earlier post, the cloud offers benefits that apply to all businesses. Having the ability to rapidly scale up applications, allow more users than ever before to access data in a shared way, and to do so with low overhead and with predictable costs can only lead to more innovation and better results. And, even if it may sound contradictory, the cloud offers increased security.

Thus, it’s clear that the wait-and-see approach no longer makes sense. In 2019, the cloud has become inevitable.


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Matt Piercy is VP and General Manager of Zscaler EMEA


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