The adolescent teenager

Posted on: October 31, 2011 by James McMahon

As one of the younger members of the scientific community I remember fondly my teenage years better than some of my peers! I sit here reminiscing about good memories, glossing over some of the pain and angst of being a teenager. As a teenager things change rapidly and new experiences (good and bad) happen, sometimes on a daily basis.

Some of these events can be explained and put down to a lack of experience or insight, some are because of a lack of planning and thought, typically a bullish attempt to do something quickly, so you can move onto interesting things like sport rather than the mundane aspects of everyday life like tidying your room. Things get broken; you are clumsy but can’t explain it and more often than not you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, or feel out of place in normal situations and times the peer pressure is too much to handle. It feels like the world is on your back all the time… At the same time they tell you, you are the future of your country, the world, the universe…

Cloud is the adolescent teenager of 2011. It has been growing steadily under different guises and without too much visibility and suddenly things have begun to change at a rapid pace, encountering events, never encountered before. It is like a celebrity teenager; growing rapidly and dealing with change at the same time, but very publically. Many ‘adolescent’ events have been well published in mainstream press, regarding outages impacting major service providers including Microsoft, Google, Amazon and in the past days RIM with their services for Blackberry users. No one is immune from growing up, but at the same time, adolescent teenager or not, there is a level of accountability for events that take place.

So what do you do with an adolescent teenager? Firstly you must always ensure they understand cause and effect, what is the impact of what they have done, intentionally or not (aka a failed change or an act of god) and make sure they learn lessons and improve themselves as a result. In the context of cloud it can be more important to define service levels for how you recover, both time to recovery and potential data loss (RTO RPO, instead of just thinking service availability). Secondly you give teenagers responsibility and treat them like adults, but don’t give a work experience teenager in a hospital the knife in heart surgery. It’s the same with cloud, try with services such as test and development first, or services that aren’t business critical. Thirdly and finally, ensure they are encouraged to grow, learn and try new things, after all they are our future… the same can be said of cloud services, explore the new opportunities, try different services and options, but make sure you plan, learn and prepare for the unexpected along the way.

The peer pressure teenagers feel is akin to the market demand forcing cloud providers to rush services to market, as a result always do your homework before making a decision. Before you know it, cloud will be common place, your services will be running in one form of cloud or another and those clumsy adolescent teenagers will be the brilliant new colleagues adding spark to your business…

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About James McMahon
VP, Head of Atos Digital Workplace and member of the Scientific Community
James is Head of the Atos Digital Workplace Practice boasting 10+ years’ experience of IT product management, strategy and solution architecture, targeted at enterprise customers. James is excited by developing and delivering transformational service offerings for enterprise customers, improving productivity, user experience and enabling new ways of working through cost effective services, including cloud, mobility, application & desktop virtualization, workplace as a service and BYOD solutions. Regularly meeting and working with customers (up to and including CxO level) is a key part of his role. He’s also a blogger on the Atos Ascent blog and member of the Atos Scientific Community for 5 years.

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