Firms should host their applications and infrastructure on the cloud providers' development budgets as they far outstrip those at most other organisations.
That's one of the views to emerge from Computing's Cloud and Infrastructure Summit held recently in central London.
David Stanley (pictured), head of platform delivery at Trainline, admitted during a panel session that in some instances it's cheaper to run IT in-house than outsource everything to the cloud.
"We've got some incredibly good infrastructure guys who've been with us for years. One argued that he could've built our infrastructure cheaper in-house than what we'd spent on cloud. Maybe he's right. You could throw money at VMware or NetApp and do it all yourself," he said.
"But AWS [Amazon Web Services] is spending billions to make my life easier every year and I can't compete with that. My IT team can't build a different version of Docker that makes my life easier. You cannot keep up with the investment that these cloud companies are making to keep things moving forward."
Earlier on in the session, Stanley argued that development managers now need to understand how to control costs.
Speaking on the same panel, Simon Hazlitt (above), co-founder of financial services firm Majedie Asset Management, echoed Stanley's argument, and added that IT needs to focus on supporting the business and not worry about the physical location of servers.
"I agree that cloud is improving all the time. But it's also worth getting back to first principles. IT people in business only exist because they're servicing a need, and that need is the provision of information," he explained.
"It's not to manage databases or build apps. That's secondary. It's about serving people who generate revenue by giving them the information they need to do their jobs."
Hazlitt also discussed security, a common concern when considering hosting sensitive data outside the business.
"My old IT colleagues used to say: how do you trust the cloud? But the business needs to trust external people anyway. And I get far more from Salesforce about the security of my data than I ever got from my internal CRM team," he said.
He was also critical of IT's development and procurement cycle, arguing that often IT doesn't sufficiently understand underlying business needs.
"The business needs information to survive and needs to mutate and move quickly. If IT were in charge of the procurement of stationery, you'd ask for a red pen, but what's really important is what you write," he said.
"If IT were responsible, they would be proud of measuring a user's index finger and six months later coming up with a £1m pen, and by then the user's forgotten why he needed it."
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