The "cloud" has done some very interesting things for individuals, companies, organizations, institutions, and government agencies and is something that shouldn't be ignored. However, I watch organizations of all shapes and sizes make a similar mistake when it comes to outsourcing too much of their operations to vendors — and cloud services. Each organization's needs will be different, but technology leaders should be mindful of how they invest in talent, alongside how much they invest in external services.
I struggle with this in my own business on a daily basis, but I've also seen small businesses make the same mistake, as well as witnessed the damage of this all the way up the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the federal government. The VA has outsourced it's technological soul to vendors, leaving the ability to make sound architectural choices to those who control the puppet strings outside of the agency. I'm seeing a lot of smaller organizations doing this same thing, but with cloud services (outsource 2.0), instead of the traditional software vendor (outsource 1.0) —outsourcing their technological soul to the cloud.
Outsourcing capacity is something I struggle with constantly. There is only so much I can do as a one-person shop, but there is also a limit on what I can spend on services in the cloud, creating a naturally occurring balancing effect. In addition to this natural effect, I am also constantly evaluating what I should be learning myself, and investing in my own internal capacity, as opposed to outsourcing it. I have to be extra careful regarding who I depend on because if service changes, is shut down, or maybe prices me out of range — it could be pretty damaging to my operations. I am hyper aware of this vicious cycle when it comes to my dependence on the cloud or any single service.
I was just having a conversation around the hard decisions that a school district was having to make in this area. They have to make the big contract purchase, hire the talent or invest in talent locally. These are tough decisions to make, but in the end I always lean towards investment in on-premise capacity, working to be as critical as possible when it comes to adopting cloud services, and investing in only external expertise — while there is no perfect answer, and investing in internal capacity might be costly, but this will help get you through hard times that depending on the cloud services will not.