Sir Humphrey Appleby is a fictional character in “Yes Minister” one of the UK’s most enduringly popular comedy shows.
The 1980s series is about his relationship with his political master, Cabinet Minister Jim Hacker, and Appleby’s attempts as a machiavellian senior civil servant to maintain control of government policy.
Whenever he didn’t like one of Hacker’s proposed policies Appleby would, being a smooth operator, describe it to the Minister as “courageous” – which the politician soon came to realise was code for: ‘if you do this things will likely go wrong for you and your party’.
The term “courageous” came to mind when I read
that Unilever has put its risk and compliance software into a ‘cloud-based service’...
The company will now:
move to a cloud version for monitoring and managing critical enterprise applications and supporting IT infrastructure. Hosted on Citicus servers, users can access the system via a Virtual Private Network linking to Unilever's corporate intranet.
To me this is a risky move. That’s not a criticism of Citicus in particular. It’s just that there are no standards for data flows in ‘the cloud’, unlike in many process industries where joining the dots, understanding the corporate DNA, and seeing precisely how things flow is often a legal requirement.
If I was considering a move to the 'cloud' I would want to know the answers to three questions about my business:
1. Which IT assets or resources support a particular business process or service - allowing the question, “Which parts of the business will be directly affected should this IT System, or part thereof, fail?” to be answered
2. The value of those business processes to the company operation - allowing the question “What would be the financial impact should an IT system, or component thereof, fail?” to be answered
3. How data flows between the IT Systems that enable the business services to operate - which, critically, allows an assessment to me made of “Which parts of the business will be indirectly affected should this IT asset fail?”
f I had that kind of clarity I think I might even persuade Sir Humphrey
to go along with the proposal.