Guest Post

How To Win By Moving To The Cloud: Lessons From The Movies


Lance Spellman

In our post last month, we highlighted several reasons why more and more companies are choosing to migrate to cloud-based business platforms.  To follow up, we thought some concrete, real-life made up examples from the movies might help to illustrate some of the ways migrating to the cloud can make work easier and more efficient and potentially help you take over the world.

Problem: Collaboration

These days, more and more companies have a workforce that may be spread throughout the state, country, or even the globe.  This can lead to difficulties when multiple people within an organization, not to mention collaborators outside the company, need to access the same documents and files.


Case Study:  Enemy of the State

Remember this one? It’s the Will Smith movie where a duck scientist accidentally records a political murder carried out by the NSA and then has to try to get a copy of the recording on a disk to his journalist friend across town?

That guy ends up getting run over by a fire truck while being chased by NSA goons, but not before he draws Will Smith into a whole mess of trouble that results in several murders and the loss of Gene Hickman’s finger.

Well, imagine that the journalist friend’s news organization had a cloud server to which our heroic duck scientist could have uploaded the damning evidence?  By the time the undercover Marines had reached our would-be hero’s home, that video would already have been in the open, backed up and probably posted to at least a dozen websites.

Lesson: Don’t get chased into a fire truck by a top secret government hit squad. Use the cloud to make information sharing easy and instantaneous.


Problem: Elasticity

The goals of most companies include growth in one form or another – a broadening client base, expansion of available services, an enhanced workforce.  This requires a certain flexibility in a company’s IT infrastructure as R&D, temporary staffing, and other growth factors demand different levels of support at different times.


Case Study:  Captain America, The Winter Soldier

It can take a long time, weeks or even months, to conceptualize, order, rack, install and configure on-site servers.  In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, for example, S.H.I.E.L.D was lucky (or as it turned out, not so lucky) to have a secret bunker full of computers on hand to keep Dr. Zola’s consciousness alive.


But what do you do when you suddenly need to run a human mind (or undertake a similarly consuming task) on your system?  Well, if you don’t have the resources of an agency backed by a billionaire tech mogul, you might consider a cloud solution.  This would not only allow you to get your nefarious scientist (or new development project) up and running in a matter of hours, but also make him (it) accessible from whatever device you choose – a huge murderous floating warship, for example.

Lesson: Don’t lose out on big ideas just because you don’t know a Stark.  Keep your processing power flexible and make your big brains accessible by connecting them to the vast resources of the cloud.


Case Study: Weird Science

The kids from Weird Science know what we’re talking about.  Even back in 1985, Gary and Wyatt were using off-site computing power to make their dreams come true.



Lesson: Don’t let a lack of computing power keep you from Frankensteining the partner of your dreams.  Use a cloud solution to give your teams space to experiment and build on the fly.


Problem: Servers and server maintenance are expensive

Getting something started?  Working with a limited IT budget?  Spend the money on innovation and refinement, not equipment and infrastructure.  You lessen the risk if things don’t work out and free up resources to use where you really need them.


Case Study:  Office Space

This movie didn’t become a cult classic because people are passionate about Swingline staplers.  Everyone has seen this situation play out in their own lives (though perhaps less dramatically), and workers around the world relate:  When too many people do too little work, operating expenses get too high, job security goes out the window, and employee discontent rules the day


Lesson: Don’t get burned (down) by angry workers. The cloud, combined with a well-designed workflow system, can reduce the number of people that need to be involved to get things done, freeing up your workforce to focus on more important tasks, like the ones that increase productivity and ROI.


Problem: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy

In this day and age, everyone seems to have a favorite device and more and more companies are finding it advantageous to let their staff use whatever device serves them best.  There’s no better way – in fact, there’s no practical way – to do that than by migrating to the cloud.  The cloud allows everyone access to the information and functionality they need while providing security and connection options to limit who has access to what and from which device.


Case Study:  Red 2

It can be argued that a skilled and determined hacker will get to the information they want no matter where it is stored [Mission Impossible still].  We wonder, though, whether how successful Anthony Hopkins’ character in Red 2 would have been if the highly confidential files he leaked to get this highly entertaining but world-endangering ball rolling would have been as easy to access if the system they were stored on had a better defined and executed BYOD policy.



Lesson:  Don’t get tricked into stealing nukes for crazy old men.  Use the constantly updated security of the cloud to control who has access to what and from where.


Case Study: Star Wars


You know how R2D2 is always plugging in to a ship or a city or a…floating sand barge? We think this highlights a couple of problems.  When just anyone can plug into your system and get (or transmit) whatever information they want, it puts your whole operation at risk.


When they’re a welcome guest or valued member of your team, it’s inconvenient, and, in R2’s case, dangerous, to have to try to find a place to plug in to get the job done.



Come one, Lando.  It’s a Cloud City.


Lesson: Don’t put your best droid on the sidelines. Take advantage of the cloud’s versatility to generate carefully and precisely designed security protocol and make the appropriate systems readily available through a wide diversity of devices, while keeping unrecognized devices shut out.


Problem: Security


Case Study:  Independence Day

Let’s finish up where we started off — with Will Smith’s early film career.  Now, we all know that we (the humans) won the day using an indomitable combination of ingenuity, patriotism, and never-say-die grit.  But let’s be real.  We were pretty lucky those aliens were using an on-site server.


If they had been using a cloud-based system, we’d have had nowhere to dock and Jeff Goldblum would still have just been the guy who used to keep the cable working.


Lesson: Don’t let the cable guy take down your whole operation with a Macbook.  Cloud platforms keep things firing, so remote workers can keep working even when something goes wrong at HQ.  Plus, with top-grade security and decentralized storage, targeted attacks are less effective and breakdowns less catastrophic.


Even if your company’s objectives do not include saving the world from madmen and aliens, taking advantage of the versatility, flexibility, economy, and customizable security of the cloud may open up paths to achieving those goals faster and on a larger scale that you might otherwise have thought possible.


Ender Wiggin says it best:



While cloud solutions may not be as direct as a hive mind, they’re kind of the next best thing.  Without the mind control.


Clips from the following films used in accordance with the Fair Use statutes of U.S. copyright law: Enemy of the State (1998), Touchstone Pictures; Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Marvel Entertainment; Weird Science (1985), Universal Pictures; Office Space (1999), Twentieth Century Fox; Red 2 (2013), Summit Entertainment; Star Wars, Episodes IV, V, VI (1977, 1980, 1983) Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox; Independence Day (1996), Twentieth Century Fox; Ender’s Game (2013), Summit Entertainment

 Author Bio:

Lance Spellman is the founder and President of Workflow Studios, an enterprise software development consulting company in Dallas, Texas. They frequently help brands in industries like retail, government, and manufacturing. He has given presentations on topics like Lotus Notes, Java, and various web technologies at technical conferences across the country.

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