GE IT obsoletes the low level IT role, goes All-in for Public Cloud

Infoworld has an interview with GE’s COO of IT Chris Drumgoole.  Bottom line GE is shutting down its own data center and Infrastructure of servers, networking, and storage, transitioning to the Public Cloud.  Below is the closing of the article where people are told to go up the stack or else.

InfoWorld: The obvious cultural question that everyone asks about moving toward the cloud is the effect on morale. Is my job being outsourced? Am I going to be a victim? How have you dealt with that?

Drumgoole: It’s a good question. I get asked it any time I speak, especially to our own employees. It’s going to sound like a canned answer, but in our case, it’s true: With our growth rate and the shift that we’re making to software in all of our businesses, there’s no shortage of opportunity to do things up the stack.

The way I answer that question when my own people ask is that the world is your oyster if you’re willing to make the cultural shift. We’ll gladly teach you [to work on things higher up in the stack] -- we want to invest in you. If you want to make that jump as an individual and you can challenge the status quo and be part of that, we have thousands of openings for you to go do stuff.

If you’re not willing to make that shift, then yes, you’re going to have to look at yourself in the mirror and have hard conversations around what your career looks like in IT going forward. We’re lucky enough to be so big and of such scale that we can put the choice on the people and say: It’s on you.

Part of GE’s efforts are to break down silos and change how IT provides a service.  In the past IT organizations were a monopoly who had complete control over how services were delivered.  GE tries to bring back control over Public Cloud efforts by providing security, regulatory, data privacy and other things that business units tend to overlook.

InfoWorld: Another risk factor when you go to public cloud services is reinventing the siloed organization. Different companies give different levels of freedom to individual business units to go out and get their own cloud service. How do you avoid creating silos?

Drumgoole: To the point I made earlier, we really view ourselves to be a service provider to our businesses, so our businesses can buy from us or they can buy from others. The best way to think about it is if you’re my oil and gas division you can come to me, as corporate IT, and buy Amazon in order deploy your applications or you can go to Amazon directly or you can go to Azure directly.

The way we enforce that is we say: OK, if you want to come through me, by definition, you’re going to live and operate in this safe environment. I have already taken care of the things that GE holds dear and our requirements around regulation, security, data privacy and so on. I pre-built and pre-instrumented the environment so that those things are not something you have to worry about. That’s the benefit of coming to me.

If you decide to go on your own, you certainly can. We’re never going to stop you, but understand that now those things are on you and you have to take care of them. I’ll tell you, in practice ... we’ve made that a losing proposition. That’s where scale comes into play. If we ask what it’s going to cost a business unit to go it alone, we truly are cheaper. So no one ever ends up making that decision, ever. We kind of let the market power enforce that as opposed to trying to put a process in place.