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As I Work in the Cloud, I Encounter an 80/20 Rule

Innovation is Hard When I'm Trying to Get the Printers to Respond

I'm developing software - yikes. I first came to this industry in the 1980s as a non-geek music major, and was forced to learn how to run a Unix-based box from Callan Data Systems that I fondly called The Antichrist.

All these years later, I'm still a non-geek, albeit one who has learned more than I ever cared to learn about dealing with the vast skunkworks project known as Windows, the Stalinesque Apple operating systems, neo-Byzantine network protocols, and now, the ethereal nebulousness of cloud computing.

So I find myself developing a workflow system - or at minimum, the outlines of one - for a vertical-market client who eventually wants this stuff to run on any number of phones, tablets, and hybrids. Android or Win8? Do we need to write for the Mac and iOS, too?

But this responsibility is just part of my job. The client, like most companies, seems to spend most of its time chasing its tail, bogged in the mud, in the doldrums, etc. However you want to put it. Take the industry cliché that 80% of IT is devoted to routine maintenance and ops, with only 20% for innovation, and you get the picture. It may be more like 90/10.

The Obsolete 47%
This is why I was struck this morning by a tweet from Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) that 47% of the federal IT budget is devoted to what he calls "obsolete/deficient" systems. I like Darrell because of his intransigent stand against SOPA and related nonsense; this stand alone makes me overlook other aspects of his public career.

So I hope he's not trying to make some cheap political point about liberal inefficiency or some other manner of pandering. I hope he's merely pointing out that a lot of federal IT spending is COBOL-related, for example, rather than focused on the latest cloud developments. It could be that this 47% is above the average in business.

Meanwhile, I've expressed disappointment in the current Federal CIO, who is seemingly doing nothing about the government's Cloud First vision, and who is not responding to my inquiries about it. (No, my feelings are not hurt by this, but it would be great for the industry if he woke up, in my opinion.)

So here I am, trying to create some snappy workflow in the cloud, while also trying to get some new onsite laptops to communicate with the various printers scattered throughout this office. Experts and gurus talks about reversing this 80/20 ratio - but in the real world, it's probably not going to happen soon. The face is, if I can squeeze 20% of my time to do the innovative stuff, I'll be happy.

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More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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