In technology, you cannot have a discussion without the word “cloud.” Cloud is in every dialogue from the C-level all the way to the IT professionals running the show. Cloud is probably one of the most, if not the most, disruptive technologies we have seen hit our market in a long time—and it reminds me of 1984. Actually, it reminds me more of 1989 and 1990, but we will start with the technology that was introduced in 1984, Apple Macintosh. If you remember the 1984 commercial that started it all, then you were watching Superbowl XVIII. That commercial defined a new era in the personal computer industry.

When the first Macs hit the market, it came with the very basics to show what could be possible. I was selling computers in 1984 for ComputerLand, and was 17 years old. When I saw my first Mac, I was less than impressed. The Lisa seemed to have a much better value prop for business users, but the Mac did appeal to the home user, and our sales soared. It wasn’t until the Mac SE launched in 1987 did the Mac really start to gain serious interest by those in corporate, but some of us in IT tried very hard to keep Mac out of the “real” business and simply let those “creatives” use it.

The Macintosh SE / Image courtesy Ken Fager via flickr.

By about this time, I was working for Foote, Cone & Belding Communications, an advertising agency in Chicago, IL. It was our VP’s directive not to support Mac, if anyone made a request. So we pushed it off, only to support either dumb terminals, or PCs. It didn’t take long before we started to see several Macs hit the desks, with Appletalk networks draped over the top of cube walls. These business unit managers had taken it upon themselves to circumvent the IT policy and purchasing standards, to purchase these Macintosh computers on their own. Some even found a way to tap into our network to gain terminal access to our WANG VS system we were running. If this wasn’t “shadow IT,” I don’t know what is.

Which leads me to the title, “Cloud is so 1984”. Tell me you don’t see any similarities. Shadow IT exists because there is a need and desire for faster time to market. I see Cloud just as I did the Macintosh: an affordable, effective tool to improve time-to-market delivery and efficiency that could be easily obtained with a swipe of a credit card and a line item on an expense report.

I see Cloud just as I did the Macintosh: an affordable, effective tool to improve time-to-market delivery and efficiency that could be easily obtained with a swipe of a credit card and a line item on an expense report.

I lived through the Macintosh days, and I learned. It definitely is time to embrace change and Cloud, but let’s do it in a meaningful way.

By the way, I ended up working for the ad agency that produced the 1984 commercial for Apple, Chiat/Day, and I had the pleasure of learning about change from some of the most creative and influential people in the ad world, including Jay Chiat, Lee Clow, and Amy Miyano. Enjoy!

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