What Game of Thrones can teach you about cloud computing
Power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick. A shadow on the wall. And a very small man can cast a very large shadow.
— Lord Varys, Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones has become a phenomenon across generations, races, and religions. Everyone loves it. And it is not because of the dragons or the fighting. It is not because of how the characters dress or the beautiful scenery. It is because people can relate. The characters are like individuals we know. They are exaggerated versions, of course, but they are relatable. And they are especially relatable in the business world. We have all had bosses like Tywin Lannister. We have all had a co-worker like Jon Snow. And then there are the much deeper correlations, like the one that exists between business growth and conquering kingdoms. In fact, there is one surprising connection when it comes to IT: Game of Thrones can teach businesses a lot about cloud computing.
1. “First lesson, stick them with the pointy end.” —Jon Snow
One of the first ways that the audience gets to know Arya Stark in Game of Thrones is her desire to learn how to sword fight. And she wants to learn fast. She wants to be one of the greatest sword fighters of all time. But when her brother, Jon Snow, gives her a sword fighting lesson, he reminds her that before she can become great, she needs to master the basics. And the same goes for cloud computing.
Cloud computing is not simple. It involves a long list of concepts. It demands organisational change. It is not as straightforward as simply buying space in the cloud. It is not as simple as just telling your workforce that they need to save their data to a new location.
To successfully make this transition, a business needs to take it slow. An organisation’s entire infrastructure cannot be moved over to cloud in one fell swoop. Baby steps must be made. If all your organisation has done is run an individual server or some virtualisation, it cannot move to putting together infrastructures of service overnight. First, you must master the basics.
2. “The storms come and go, the waves crash overhead, the big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling.” —Lord Varys
In season two of Game of Thrones, Tyrion Lannister corners Lord Varys to warn him about threatening him again. He tells him not to, or he will have Varys thrown into the sea. Lord Varys, however, does not seem worried or flustered in the least. His response is simple: He is someone who has survived through the worst and will continue to do so. This type of thought process can be tied to cloud computing, especially when it comes to monitoring.
Before businesses implement the cloud, they seem to be most concerned with the comparison between cloud stack, open stack, Eucalyptus, and so on. Too often, they forget to prioritise creating images, monitoring, and many of the other essential pieces of cloud computing. These aspects need to be explored and decided on before the move to the cloud is made. If they are not, a lot more problems will start to crop up. The Proof of Concept, or POC, for the cloud, needs to include all the big pieces. In other words, you cannot just ‘keep on paddling’. You need to pay attention to the possible storms, waves crashing, and fish eating other fish. They are a part of the system, and they need to be thoughtfully designed and chosen.
3. “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” —Ygritte
Throughout their relationship, Ygritte tells Jon Snow that he knows nothing 19 times. She reminds him over and over that he does not quite grasp the full picture. She lets him know that he is naive. She refuses to let him forget that his understanding of larger issues is not as deep as he thinks. And this is what companies who intend to incorporate cloud computing into their operations and processes should continually tell themselves.
When it comes to organisations that only have experience with virtualisation or operating systems, they need to accept that adopting cloud computing is going to be a journey that will require significant learning and patience. This includes learning about complex networking, storage, and so much more. Cloud computing is a whole new world. It is absolutely a necessary world for every business to learn about and implement, but it is new and different.
4. “Only a man who’s been burned knows what hell is truly like.”
—Sandor Clegane (The Hound)
In Game of Thrones, there is one scene where The Hound is talking to Sansa Stark. He tells her how he got the brutal burns on his face. And at the end of his story, he makes the statement about understanding what hell is like because he has been burned. And, no, integrating cloud computing is nowhere near as bad as being burned. The meaning of this quote, when it comes to the cloud, is that a company is only going to understand what it takes to implement the cloud by doing it.
Yes, you can talk to experts, you can do research, you can make announcements to your workforce. And these are all good for preparation. However, when the transition to the cloud begins, you must provide yourself with a learning curve. Once you have completed your POC and you have gotten into production, then you can begin to have a much more complete illustration of utilising cloud computing. Now, this does not mean you should get discouraged about the cloud. It simply means that expecting to run into issues and being okay with that is the best mindset a business can have because it allows them to be more cautious during the process and they will be more prepared to confront issues head-on.
Cloud Computing in Asia
It is essential to learn these lessons about cloud computing, and more before an organisation makes the big move. This is especially true in Asia, where cloud computing is growing faster than anywhere else in the world. In fact, recent numbers from the region are suggesting that the data centre market, due to cloud computing growth, will see a compound annual growth rate of 14% by 2021. And currently, cloud services in the region are creating a growth of U.S. $10 billion in Southeast Asia alone.
It is likely this rapid growth that is getting big cloud providers excited about expanding their reach in the region. Alibaba has recently announced that they will be opening up in India, starting with a new data centre in Mumbai. And this excitement over cloud computing is not just felt by cloud providers and analysts. Businesses across Asia are expressing the importance of the technology. According to a recent survey, 82% of Asia companies believe that cloud computing is a top strategic investment for businesses to make. With Asia now being viewed as the region that is leading the world in innovation, this is not only a regional statement; it is also a global statement.