June 22, 2015

Jack Reacher Knows the Value of the Cloud

I sometimes binge read and right now I’m on the 19th book in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child (aka Jim Grant)—a guilty pleasure to be sure. There is much that I could discuss regarding this series (and the definitional miscast of Tom Cruise, who is nowhere near Reacher’s reported 6’5” & 250 lbs.), but I’ve been meaning to test a hypothesis regarding the protagonist’s approach to post-military life. Reacher doesn’t own anything but a travel toothbrush and the clothes he wears on a given day, acquiring all other life needs on demand—in other words, he lives his life like a cloud service.

Here is an excerpt regarding purchase of an outfit from “A Wanted Man”:

“Total damage was seventy-seven dollars in cash, which was well within target. Three days’ wear, minimum, maybe four maximum, somewhere between about twenty and twenty-five bucks a day. Cheaper than living somewhere, and easier than washing and ironing and folding and packing. That was for damn sure.”

Reacher swaps out clothes every three to four days (shoes last longer), stays in cheap motels, eats at cheap diners, and hitchhikes to get from place to place. Table 1 summarizes his projected annual expenses for clothing, shelter and travel (In the comparative analysis that follows, I’ll assume that shoes and meals are a wash).

table 1

Regarding his view on the “traditional” model, Reacher questions (also in “A Wanted Man”):

“How much do you pay for your mortgage every month? And the insurance and the oil and the maintenance and the repairs and the yard work and the taxes?”

Table 2 summarizes clothing, shelter and travel for life “on premises.”

table 2

This is not a comprehensive accounting (e.g. no property tax), but at this high level, it appears that “Life as a Service” has an economic advantage. Chalk one up for Reacher!

Having confirmed the basic numbers and having read the books, it is just as clear that lifestyle is a motivation beyond the financial advantages. Reacher appreciates simplicity and agility, not wanting to be tied down to the daily demands and worries of a more conventional lifestyle.

Your Technology Journey: Traditional or Cloud

And herein lies a driving force behind choosing between an on premises technology solution vs. moving to the cloud. As an organization (and an IT department) do you prefer the comfort and control of ownership or the agility and simplicity promised by the cloud?

Reacher prefers to travel the U.S., apparently from one modern-day Clint Eastwood western adventure to the next, untethered by ownership of anything. He trusts in the infrastructure of USaaS (United States as a Service) and understands that his core competency doesn’t include laundering clothes and maintaining a house (he is quite good at solving problems and an occasional head butt).

So, for moving to the cloud, a multi-year TCO or ROI analysis could lean in one direction or another based on the complexity of business need and frugality of either approach, but factors that may not make it into the financial equation should also be considered.

  • How important is it to have ongoing access to the most current technologies?
  • Is there an advantage to pushing technology risk (updates and upgrades) to the vendor community versus your IT department?
  • Would the agility of broadening self-service access to non-IT personnel provide a competitive advantage?
  • In what core competencies do you want to invest your human resources?

TFP helps our clients in developing rational usage-based pricing and by supporting their prospects with TCO & ROI assessments. When assessing a potential move to the cloud, the numbers tend to pan out and can help drive the decision one way or another, but in some cases it is just as important to gauge the prospect’s psyche to see if they would simply prefer a usage-based model (skipping the corporate version of home ownership and doing laundry). In those cases, reliable technology as a service and a rational price should work, as Reacher would say, “for damn sure.”

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