What does Bezos Law mean for CIOs?

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at a news conference during the launch of Amazon's new tablets in New YorkWhen Greg O’Connor the CEO of AppZero proposed in this post a cloud version of Moore’s Law called Bezos’s Law for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, it got me thinking about the implications for CIOs and IT departments. He defined it as the observation that, over the history of the cloud, a unit of computing power price is reduced by 50 percent approximately every three years.

If Bezos’ Law reflects reality, which the numbers support, then the only conclusion is that most companies should get rid of their datacenters and move to the public cloud to save money. Clearly, public cloud, as opposed to building or maintaining a datacenter, is a much better economic delivery approach for most companies. But the cloud is much more than saving money. The primary value of the cloud is agility or time-to-market, or more accurately, time-to-value.

What is driving Bezos Law? Clearly there are efficiencies in the cloud computing model over the owned and on-prem model but the main driver is the fact that Amazon, Microsoft and Google are in a race to the bottom. The strategic importance of developing a public cloud platform coupled with the lead Amazon Web Services has built up, force Google and Microsoft into scrambling to match each other’s price cuts in order  to remain competitive. They, and others who are trying to become players in the public cloud space really don’t have any choice due to the paradigm shift that cloud computing represents.

So, what does this mean for CIOs? Many CIO’s I know – especially ones in large enterprises – are in cloud denial. They rationalize that the cloud is not secure or doesn’t provide advantages over their own”private clouds”. This is absurd. With few exceptions in really large companies private clouds are not viable and they do not have nearly the security knowledge or staffing relative to the big public cloud vendors. These CIOs align themselves with the traditional IT vendors who are desperately trying to cling to their old ways while they reinvent their businesses to provide cloud services. In many cases, they are just cloud-washing their product lines while trying to sell CIOs on continuing to buy on-prem hardware and software.

The reality is the owned and operated vertical technology stack model cannot meet the needs of today’s mobile world. The center of gravity has shifted from the desktop to the pocket. Mobile is the direction in which business and society are going, and companies who don’t keep pace will be left behind. Either you aggressively embrace the cloud to leverage it’s inherit advantages for mobile computing or your successor will. It’s as simple as that for today’s CIOs.

And how can an enterprise datacenter possibly keep up with the hyper-competitive innovation from Amazon, Google and Microsoft? CIO’s who get it know how this is going to play out. They’re way ahead in asking: “Why should we continue to saddle our company with a huge cost anchor called a datacenter or a private cloud?” Forward looking CIOs are viewing this as an opportunity to re-allocate budget and headcont towards creating business value instead of “raking and stacking” and “patching and plumbing” on-prem hardware and software.

Bezos Law is today’s version of Moore’s Law and CIOs who do not recognize this will be rapidly replaced.




A crisis is a terrible thing to waste

crisis2One of my favorite quotes of all time if from Sanford economist Paul Romer who said:

“A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

In my career, this has been one of the most important things to seize upon and leverage.

In IT this is a gift from the gods.  Think about Y2K. Think about how many new systems were upgraded or implemented in the run up to the Y2K scare? Think about the latest security breach your company experienced. Were you able to allocate funds to upgrade your security? What about an acquisition or a bankruptcy of a strategic vendor? Were you able to get CAPEX funds that were previously unavailable due to the risk associated with the situation?

The bottom line is you need to be able to leverage the “crisis” to do the right thing for your company in the moment. Sometimes, the crisis are of our own making and sometimes they are outside of our control, but either way we need to be prepared to respond to the crisis to make the best of a bad situation.

It may be an acquisition that causes you to have to respond to an immediate need for a technology solution that would have otherwise difficult to justify or was a long-term solution. Or, it may be a bad economic situation that causes you to restructure or reorganize the department  to address the situation.  Either way, the “crisis” allows you to do things that would otherwise would be inappropriate or extremely difficult to accomplish and in the heat of the crisis they are acceptable outcomes.

Are you ready to leverage the next crisis that comes your way?