If you're not familiar with the Star Trek series, I pity you. Seriously, I really do. There's just so much rich content there that is applicable to so many of life's little nuances. Without going into the rabid politics of which is better, Star Trek or Star Wars, there's a storyline in Star Trek that can be applied to the storyline of IT and the Cloud.

I'm talking about the Kobayashi Maru. If you're not familiar, the Kobayashi Maru is a Starfleet training exercise that is intended to test the character of cadets. The test involves a situation where a cadet is faced with either violating a treaty between the Federation and the Klingons or rescuing a ship, the Kobayashi Maru, and its crew that is dire trouble. If the cadet chooses to rescue the crew, Klingon ships attack from out of nowhere, putting the Federation ship and its crew in jeopardy and provoking the Klingon's into an all-out war. If the cadet chooses to observe the treaty, the crew of the Kobayashi Maru is lost. So, the Kobayashi Maru is considered a no-win scenario.

As a cadet, the future captain of the Enterprise, James Kirk, took the test three times. He won at his last attempt because he reprogrammed the simulator prior to the test, i.e., he hacked it. It was suggested that he won by cheating, but Kirk proposed that he only changed the game because he doesn’t believe in a no-win scenario. He was later awarded a commendation for "original thinking."

For many in IT, the Cloud runs parallel to this same storyline. There are those that still dismiss that the Cloud will impact any part of their IT lifestyle, yet there are many (and growing) who have been impacted already. Three years ago, the Cloud was in its infancy and even the vendors professing Cloud solutions still had no idea where they were headed. Today, the Cloud has very much materialized as a one-to-one replacement for on-premise application, processes, and services. There are companies that are not quite ready to move everything to the Cloud, but vendors like Microsoft are still building it.  Michael Otey has an excellent article posted on our sister site, SQL Server Pro, that talks about how Microsoft's accelerated Cloud development flurry may be outpacing its customers actual needs. You should read it when you get a chance: Has Microsoft Gotten Too Far Ahead of Its Customers?

For those that have already become accustomed to what the Cloud holds for their future, many of those feel like a Starfleet cadet thrown into a captain's chair, facing a no-win scenario. There are countless IT Pros that fear their usefulness in IT will be replaced when the company's technologies are migrated to a hosted Cloud. Cloud vendors, like Microsoft, will indulge you and tell you that moving to the Cloud allows IT to forget the menial tasks of managing users and allows IT to get on to the really important things. What those important things are, I guess, still need to be clearly defined. I've heard from some who are considering dropping out of IT altogether and pursuing a different career altogether if the Cloud replaces their value.

But, that's just giving up. If Kirk were in IT, he'd simply change the game.

IT is not going anywhere. Even in a Cloudy world, IT is still needed to manage, not only the licensing for applications and services hosted in the Cloud, but also to ensure that the system is working and is available 24x7. Instead of focusing on what's missing, focus on what's coming. Instead of getting stuck wallowing around in the muck of the daily madness, prepare for your future life in IT. Now is the time to identify the vocations that will be required to ensure business stability through learning and education. Beyond just understanding what the Cloud is, develop a strategy, based on your interests, and dig into learning the technologies that are essential for the next 3-5 years.

In the Microsoft world, virtualization and System Center are key areas you should focus on. While virtualization is not the Cloud, the Cloud is built on the virtualization process, and having a depth of understanding in this space will ensure you can comprehend what's coming for the Cloud. System Center is Microsoft's suite of applications that provides for managing and monitoring the Cloud, both on-premise (Private Cloud) and hosted (Public Cloud), and provides for everything in between (Hybrid Cloud).

There are several ways to get up to speed on these topics. Here's a few:

So, really, if you put the Cloud into the right perspective and start now, you can turn a seemingly no-win scenario into a victory and receive a commendation for "original thinking" – just like Kirk. Change the game.