Tag Archives: cloud

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Good News! You’re Not Paranoid

CameraSo, they can see it all… and they really are watching! For the past six years, PRISM (under public ownership) and that other form of Big Brother, the Internet in general, (under, mostly, private ownership) for much more than six years. While very different in nature, perception and our view of having given permission (or otherwise) these two avenues to our information are also very much the same. As is the answer to how you can take control of both and render PRISM itself effectively irrelevant with regards to your data (more on that a bit later).

Read the rest at Compare the Cloud

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Keep it Secure… the Business of Cloud

cloud_lockMy latest, hosted at ComparetheCloud.net

Depending on where you go or what you read, the issues vary but the underlying concerns about Cloud security seem fairly standard: concern about the lack of control over cloud-based environments; concern about access to data and systems from outside of the walls of the business combined; concern and uncertainty as to how to manage current threats, both targeted and random, let alone whatever comes next.

Truth be told, much of this stuff is, relatively speaking, straight-forward if not easy once you’ve done the work, determined your needs and selected the correct, trusted partner (who has passed the requisite due diligence which any business with any significant level of security requirements or concerns should insist on).

Read the rest at ComparetheCloud

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Newmarket Races

Sir Alex… the Business of Cloud

Taking the helm at Man U at about the same time as Microsoft went public and IBM released their first twelve-pound ‘convertible’ laptop, the Sir Alex Ferguson timeline covers far more than fifteen hundred matches. Yes, too many books, movies and metaphors have applied sports to business and the boardroom but Sir Alex, in Football, over time is more akin to management in the computer industry than you might realise.

The BBC wrote that “his initial victories were hard won but that the domination to follow was unexpected” which sounds a bit like the PC industry whose history and evolution follow similar time and story lines, with the key word for both being ‘evolution’.

Unlike most other industries which by circumstance and necessity do and have changed, somewhat, over time (often supported by technology), the computer industry, which is rapidly becoming the cloud industry, as driven by Moore’s law consists of sets of dynamic ‘living’ product ranges in a general state of flux… things that need care and feeding, maintenance and improvement, and support from a businesses led with a combination of pragmatic vision and astute business sense. .. and flexibility.

Skipping over the fashion and hairstyle offenses – on-pitch and off – that the Manchester United bastion has seen and instead ponder the massive evolution of change that has happened around him while at the helm. The breadth of change from player salaries to their attitudes is a result of communications breaking barriers and extending borders (just like IT in general and Cloud specifically) through to the fans and the media (the football version of Cloud clients, consumers and analysts). We could stretch the analogies further but I think the point is made.

The opening of telecommunications channels and the pervasive use and availability of broadcasting kit moved the media approach and coverage to a global stage, necessitating amongst other things a re-adjustment of the Premiership business model and a re-prioritisation of the revenue streams from tickets to t-shirts and advertising with a growing hands-on focus directly on the fan base.

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While of course he didn’t run the day to day business of the club, at a minimum in IT industry terms you’d have to consider Sir Alex a board-seated CTO of the MU machine. The changes he has helped managed the Club through are as vast as the changes from silent film to radio to television to satellite viewing, from mainframes to minis to micros to handhelds, or from re-seller to integrator to service provider to cloud provider, and everything else in between (which, as the astute amongst you might have noticed, in our industry has also created the need for a re-adjustment to business models, a different way of looking at revenues and a different focus and approach to customers).

Alex Ferguson was open to change: any good Manager (football or otherwise) needs a defence mechanism and the flexibility to deal with and exploit that which is happening around you is near the top of the list. And change is of course what the IT industry – and Cloud –  is all about, both changing itself and enabling change pretty much everywhere else. You are after all still selling and providing computer “stuff” but the pitch, the rules, the players, the press and the fans all only bear the tiniest of resemblance to what came before.

(In any case, has anyone else noticed that the Football v Religion question has been answered from a social media perspective: the announcement of the new Pope garnered about five times as many tweets in the first round of reactions to Sir Alex stepping down).

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Keep it Clear… the Business of Cloud

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For a CEO not up on the tech side of things, asking a techie “What is Cloud?” would be as useful as asking a meteorologist the same question… there are too many wrong answers – for the particular needs of any particular CEO – amongst the right ones, not to mention that the term itself has become almost redundant.

To be fair, the term ‘cloud’ itself has probably contributed to the rapid uptake in both use and press coverage. To paraphrase George Carlin, “Cloud is such a friendly sounding word… It sounds like a snack, doesn't it? New Nabisco Clouds! And new Cheese Clouds, Corn Clouds, Pizza Clouds, Sesame Clouds, Onion Clouds, Tater Clouds”…" Broad, cross-functional, magical… and more – it is a great catch-all term, just not a specific one.

I’ve discussed, argued, positioned (and worse) the topic of cloud with peers, clients and colleagues at dinners, meetings, events, forums and pubs (the noisy ones being the best as I can’t hear half of the argument)… we, they who work in and around this space, seem for the most part to know what we’re talking about, even when at cross-purposes or in disagreement. One thing I have noticed across the board, though, is that there exist four intersecting loops of cloud belief: those who see it as

  1. a technology modelq1
  2. a utility (or service) model
  3. an operational model
  4. a commercial model

And, as is often the case in IT, the anomaly is the norm: none of those views are incorrect or correct, necessarily: like the work required to get there and the reward on arrival, it depends on the point of view of the beholder. When finding my way to a solution I often take hybrid as my first target and from there work towards either end as needed. To me, that is the only position from which to start with this cloud thing.

And you know what? This is not the complicated stuff… what really has become complicated is the marketing, the messages, the myriad of names and labels and the one-size-fits-all promises that business users are being hit with  (not to mention the contracts!). Dozens of choices at a coffee shop doesn’t phase me (or the average consumer who knows, broadly, what they want to drink) BUT twenty price plans with eight levels of up-front spend for thirty different handsets with fifteen different network add-ons at the local mobile phone wareshopstorehouse can be rather vexing…

Does this mean it time for a new term? (no, please!)  As an industry we need to provide clarity and consistency (along with some good solid honesty). While not a big fan of regulation and often less than thrilled with how (and why) standards are (sometimes) implemented, I do rather like both when they are done properly and result in a level playing field and I reckon that clarity and consistency of terminology typically happens when standards are applied. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) “Definition of Cloud Computing” is a strong starting attempt to clarify the ambiguity that is cloud, starting with the following five identifiers:

  • On-demand self-service
  • Broad network access
  • Resource pooling
  • Rapid elasticity enabling quick scale-out
  • Measurable services

But of course it wouldn’t be cloud if we didn’t have several strong starting points, including the Open Group, Distributed Management Task Force, Cloud Security Alliance, Storage Network Industry Association, and Open Cloud Consortium all have cloud standards efforts ranging from terminology to security.

q2Cloud computing is not a trend (although the rush to the marketplace is) but rather a fundamental shift in capabilities that enables a fundamental re-think from “what can we do?” into “what do we want to do?” offering a focus on growth and opportunity across industries and world-wide, including all sides of the equation – manufacturers and vendors, service providers, techies and end users and businesses of all sizes.

Clever ways to sell and describe products is a game that will not stop but a little consistency and clarity by vendors describing just what it is that they bring to the table would go a long way… (just like the relationships created by doing so).

I am open and interested to comments and either agreeing or opposing points of view… and come back next week for "Keep it Secure… the Business of Cloud."

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Stop Selling the Cloud… the Business of Cloud

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“Sales and marketing fail when they either are selling or marketing the wrong thing, or the right thing in the wrong way” ~ me, 2012

 

In planning a recent holiday, we started (as I assume most do) with choosing a destination, based on either the mission (see, visit, do something…) or the vision (city; dive; rest…) for the holiday. We narrowed things down by applying our requirements criteria including travel time and budget, adjusting and extending our view as we made a selection.

We decided on a city break in Istanbul and during this initial ‘discovery’ process we further refined our requirements and determined, broadly, that transport and desired level of accommodation would be both available and affordable and that the city offered us what we were seeking for this holiday. Based on target location, timeframes and convenience, flying was pretty much the only valid option.

While we always seek as painless a travel experience as possible, we typically allocate more budget to accommodations and activities than we do to travel: this typically makes Business Class or better a price barrier but we never adjust our basic requirements: local airports, competitive pricing and a track record that leads us to expect a safe runway landing rather than a splash down or a ride into the side of a mountain. Those needs met, we selected and booked the flight.

Then came the Fun, part 1: deciding where to stay and from there planning what we might get up to on arrival. Following pretty much the same requirements-defined approach as above, at a more granular level, we finalised our criteria relevant to the type of break we wanted (our mission and vision) ranging from the neighbourhood of our hotel to its proximity to sights and transport.

This was followed by the Fun, part 2: going there and doing it. Loosely illustrated our time allocation – and preferably also that of our budget (which is, sadly, usually a larger chunk by far than desired), looks a little bit like:

stopselling

The same type of breakdown applies, loosely, to selling technology-based business solutions  (although not always the same ratios): technology is meant to enable something, to solve something, to deliver something or to earn something, not just to be really cool tech with a better name and fancier tools.

Awareness is Good, Hype is Bad

Now, as written in Part 1 of this reality check, Beware the Cloud-ists! I’d like to say that I like cloud and have done since well before it was called cloud. And that today, with the processing power, capacity and bandwidth to deliver to the promise, not to mention the sliding commercial models and minimal-to-nil start-up barriers in terms of costs or time delays, we are now enabled to use smart, utility delivered, commodity computing in a way that it can really make a difference.

This is very promising in the view of both the business and technology camps: reduced risk, reduced cost, increased agility and overall reduced barriers across what has become a much-simplified business to consumer to business loop (particularly but not exclusively to the online or otherwise computing-centric space).

Cloud Computing has struck a chord with and captured the imagination of the public, businesses and Government in a way that other attempts at delivering utility model computing, ranging from On Demand to first generation SaaS and other such incarnations never did. Everywhere you look are managers, experts, analysts and “observers of a journalistic nature” writing, blogging and tweeting about it: a myriad of real-world experts (some of whom know about that of which they speak, others clearly who do not!) generating countless books, articles and whitepapers.

Cloud is Merely the Delivery Vehicle

… and cloud is also a great foot in the door. Controlled and applied realistically, the hype around cloud is raising awareness and increasing uptake and I suggest using the opportunity created by this hype. Leverage the interest and awareness to start new, broader conversations based on the business goals of your customer (and their customers) rather than the delivery needs of their IT department or your own short-term sales targets… I suggest that you stop selling cloud and instead start to sell and deliver the things that cloud will enable: their imaginations have been captured by all of those pundits and it is time to take advantage of that: the right way!

Raising interest in and creating an understanding of the cloud and its (actual) benefits is clearly good all round: assuming that you want to move from selling products and services to selling business solutions and long-term relationships, cloud is the perfect vehicle to enable that move (more a transformation, by the way, than a move).

Selling business solutions and long-term relationships indicates that it is the competitive edge (in terms of: agility; cost of sales and delivery; sustainability of service) delivered via these new commercial models and methods wrapped around enhanced, improved and new technologies that are cloud, rather than the tech itself. Sell the holiday: the hotel and the activities are that which captures the imagination, not the flight.

And that answer remains the same even if your customer is re-selling your cloud-based models and methods to their end-users: the only difference is that you need to work with them to move them to also think and sell the same way.

Cloud is about enabling innovation, driving speed, delivering business agility and reducing risks: You need a different conversation and a different proposition… my suggestion is to stop selling cloud, start having those different conversations and see where they take you: let cloud sell itself based on what it can do rather than what it is.

As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver-lining: your competitors who are selling that silver lining may make short term income but I would suggest that the real place to go mining would be in the doors opened and relationships built by the conversations around how this cloud stuff can transform their businesses, reduce their costs and get them to their goals better, stronger, quicker, cheaper. That is where lies the mother lode.

Oh… and don’t forget to beware of the Cloud-ists!

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Cloud Warnings

Questions to Ask Before Buying… the Business of Cloud

Cloud Buying Questions for Cloud Computing Service Providers, hosted by the good folk over at CompareTheCloud.net

Cloud Service Provider:  You’ve made your pitch and you’re in the door, sitting across from some subset of senior management who are waiting to hear about how you and your cloud can change their world. Well done (especially these days!)… but there just might be a few questions before the deal closes: buying cloud from you is a leap of faith – not only in your business – but in their own business and its ability to capitalise on what you are offering.

The following questions, posed in no particular order, are the nature of which you might hear coming from the other buy-side of the table:

  1. Questions and Answers signpostWhere are your Data Centres; how are they connected; who and how has the whole thing been designed and built? What is your current technology landscape and what are your plans?
  2. What happens if my applications / data / websites are unavailable (and /or remain unavailable for an inordinate amount of time? And, for that matter, what is the definition of an inordinate amount of time?) Tell me about service levels and service credits?
  3. How quickly can you restore lost data (including recovery from user error); what is the back-up regimen, frequency, retention policies? Where is the data backed up?
  4. Tell about your support model for my business users, technical users and developers. Will we have an account manager and, if yes, what does that mean?
  5. Show me how I am not locked in to you: what are the mechanisms to ensure a cost effective repatriation of applications and data (to either another provider or back into my own data centre); what are the costs and timings of such decommissioning?
  6. While at this point you foresee no problems in moving our (pick one: ERP; bespoke trading platform; SOA; etc.) to your cloud… what is your approach (from due diligence through to the actual porting exercise) and what happens if there are problems? Will there be any impact on my costs?
  7. You seem like a new and risky (or successful and growing business): what happens to my business if you should go under (or get acquired)?
  8. Where have you done any or all of the above / can I speak with a current customer bearing some relationship to mine in terms of industry sector and scale? Can I see your Customer case studies quoting business results?

Buying cloud from you is a leap of faith – not only in your business – but in their own business and its ability to capitalise on what you are offering.

When I started writing this, I had planned a list of a few questions only, intending to discuss each a little more including views as to how to answer: along the way it has become the start of a solid list of tough questions which might prove of value all along the supply chain (and I’d also suggest that, if a customer doesn’t ask such questions, that a larger opportunity just might exist to start a journey where you can start adding extra value from day one of the sale process by posing and answering those questions together… never a bad way to start a relationship!).

At this point I’d like to throw the floor open to you: what are the questions a service provider should be asked?  And which are the questions a provider should be well prepared for?  And what are the killer questions that might have caught you off-guard?!

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clouds over Computing

My take on Cloud Expo Europe 2013

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My take on Cloud Expo Europe 2013

"Events of this nature, with vendors, seminars and keynotes, help you to see what ‘could be’ prior to defining or designing what you want”

“Cloud to Clarity wasn’t quite delivered… but this is not a reflection on either the event or the exhibitors, though, rather on the state of a rapidly evolving industry… but it is getting better”

Guest post at ComparetheCloud.net (click on the title above or the logo below to check out a top Cloud Computing resource)

I’ve been attending IT industry shows and events the nature of this one since the ‘old days’ when business computing existed only on mainframes (which, by the way, are in many ways the predecessor architecture of cloud which is, effectively, computing re-centralised…) and I recall only a few where I have felt it worth attending for more than one day: Cloud Expo Europe 2013 was one of them.

As mentioned in a recent blog published elsewhere, I typically counsel any business to focus on requirements and targets before looking at the technology, but these times (and this show) are a little different.

Because you can do more than you could before – particularly without spending a large amount of money up front to get started doing it – thinking outside of the box effectively requires knowledge of what might be out there and I am now more likely to suggest that you see what ‘could be’ prior to defining or designing what you want.

Click here or on the Logo below to read the rest


Daniel is a Director at Beyond Solutions, a Partner at HB Prime Advantage and a Thought Leader for Compare the Cloud.

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Grey Clouds over Cost Savings

Grey Clouds over Cost Savings

A great piece by Michael Queenan of Nephos Technologies 

when a Cloud blog starts with "If you are looking at Cloud for just cost savings you’re going to be disappointed" I know I've found one of the good ones (and thanks to @MJQueenan for the mention)

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really Should you be?

Should you be selling Managed Services and Cloud?

(subtitle: Should you be buying Managed Services or Cloud from these people?)

Clearly the playing field has and is still changing for the business technology sector from the point of view of both end user organisation and the traditional mix of vendors, integrators, resellers, outsourcers and other tech-space providers (choose your label, add freely to the list).

While this is also true for those already with a managed service model, they do at least have clarity in response to the question posed in the title above: right or wrong, profitable and growing or not, they are already in that space.

Meanwhile, the other players in the sector are being bombarded by change: what customers are asking for (expecting, demanding); the underlying technology to deliver to those requirements; the necessary commercial and service models and processes in place. Over the past year I’ve read more than a few articles along the lines of “Cloud Kills the Traditional (insert term here)” and “Change or Die,” many of which deliver coherent arg02062007285.jpguments but most of them are partly correct and incorrect.

In my business I advise ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ IT service providers business to adapt a solutions-focused, recurring revenue client model. But not all such businesses get the same advice… it is not always the case that the provider side should (or is ready, yet, to) provide such services (competently and profitably) nor that the end user is both ready and in need of the change (again, yet: we are talking industry wide disruption based on valued add, so they are likely to get there but hopefully after a little bit of planning to ensure that they have an idea of where they are actually going!)

Sticking with our “traditional” mix of vendors, integrators, resellers, outsourcers and other tech space providers, I would suggest any of the above execute a short review of the following questions to ‘test’ their readiness, willingness (and awareness) to do what it takes to do it right – not to mention to take a preliminary view of the levels of effort it might take to get there:

  1. What are your current: capabilities, skill sets, references and credibility?
  2. What are your current assets, in general and Data Centre(s) in particular
  3. Do you currently offer any managed services (network or device monitoring, eMail, printing, etc.)?
  4. What are the capabilities, assets and skill sets of your current customer base; Do they understand the value of managed services?
  5. Do your client-facing staff have relationships with your clients (to whom are they selling; do they have C-level relationships?)

These same questions, slightly adjusted and posed to potential service providers as well as inward-looking, also apply to pretty much all end user / customer business considering moving, changing or transitioning and, even more importantly, in my opinion, with whom they choose to make that move: managed service relationships do have a 'tied-in' nature, so tread and choose carefully.

These questions are the tip of the iceberg and would be covered in the first hours of one of my typical engagements… it is the questions which follow and the requisite investment in time and resources to create and implement change across sales, delivery, operations, business processes and, of course, the commercials to successfully adapt and grow as a Managed Service Provider).

“Growth” is the magic word, by the way… preparing for, selling correctly and then delivering what is essentially “more of the same” to a client base that is expanding as you do it better (faster, smarter, cheaper) will, from what I have seen across the sector these past fifteen years or so, drive growth and expansion batter than most strategies.

If you’d like to discuss further how you can assess and prepare for such a move – and to take a first run through that list of questions, contact me at steeves@beyond-solutions.co.uk for a complimentary introductory workshop (free-form but functional).

Telecom TV

Cloudy with Sunny Spells: a CommsBusiness interview with Daniel Steeves

This is an attempt to remove the fog from the cloud.

David Dungay: Having bumped into Daniel on twitter and realising what he is trying to achieve I couldn’t resist contacting him to get his views on cloud adoption in the UK.
excerpt:

David Dungay (DD): What are the biggest misconceptions when it comes
to cloud adoption?
Daniel Steeves(DS):
• That it is one-size-fits-all. It doesn’t.
• That security is all handled by the cloud provider. It isn’t, necessarily.
• That it somehow is more than it is and that it is all very easy. Vendors may tell you that using cloud applications will nearly eliminate IT management needs, but… …

DD: What are the major barriers to cloud adoption in the UK? How many of these are based on misinformation?
DS: I am starting to question whether misinformation is a fair term: as always happens with the introduction, adoption and adaption of technologies…
Read the complete interview at CommsBusinessAugust-Cloudy with Sunny Spells.pdf

 

You can also see my interview on TelecomsTV

woz

Apple founder warns of ‘horrendous’ cloud computing risks

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Woz and I on the same page, as always!

Wozniak told an audience in Washington DC: "I really worry about everything going into the cloud. I think it's going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years."

Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs in 1976, was speaking after a performance of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, a monologue about working conditions at Apple's Chinese factories.

The play attracted controversy earlier this year when Mike Daisey, the performer, admitted that he had fabricated some of the stories in the piece. Daisey originally claimed that the stories in the monologue were taken from interviews he conducted with Chinese workers during a visit to the country in 2010.

Daisey, who has since re-worked his script, invited Wozniak to the penultimate performance of the show.

Answering questions from the audience, the 61-year-old Wozniak said: "With the cloud, you don't own anything. You already signed it away."

He added: "I want to feel that I own things. A lot of people feel, 'Oh, everything is really on my computer,' but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we're going to have control over it."

Asked about Labour conditions in China, where Apple and virtually every other technology company, including Samsung, Microsoft and Sony, makes its products, Wozniak said: "We know we [customers] have a voice. We can speak but we can't act like, oh, Foxconn is bad or Apple is bad."

He said he believed conditions for Chinese workers would improve as the country grows richer.

Wozniak, who now works for memory company Fusion IO, invented the Apple I and the Apple II. He left full-time employment with the company in 1987 though he remains on the payroll.

 

Apple founder warns of 'horrendous' cloud computing risks – Telegraph.

My Gardener is in the Cloud (redux): A Basic Cloud Primer

Gardener as a Service (GaaS)

Robert shows on Tuesday mornings, backing his little van into my driveway, throws open the back door and pulls out his kit: a mower some weeks, a blower others, always a rake and a trimmer… He unlocks the gate and goes about his work and within an hour or so he is gone. All that I need to do is have handy the garden waste bin. Oh, and an espresso: I have him hooked on this once-a-week caffeine rush.

That is, in essence, all that most people need to know to start to understand the cloud: cloud is a commercial model wherein you pay for a service, done as you need it to be done when you want it done without requirement for upfront investment or set-up fees: no purchases required! “Cloud computing” is a generic term for pretty much anything that involves delivering infrastructure or programs over a network. Essentially a figure-of-speech, cloud is hosted IT systems, or managed and hosted services, or managed applications or IT outsourcing… any of the above, or others.

While all true, Cloud delivery has three distinct characteristics which help to identify and to define itself:
1. It is typically sold in an ‘on demand’ model, typically by the minute, the hour or by capacity
2. it is elastic, meaning you can have as much or as little as you want or need at any given time and
3. it can be private or public (shared or not shared)

All of which still means it is basically a billing model… and now, back to Robert:
1. In the spring and autumn, Robert scales up to spend extra time preparing the garden for summer growth or for winter rest
2. Robert is also available on demand and can be scheduled for plantings and transplants, tree removal, or to pop ’round and feed the cat when we go away for a weekend
3. A “shared cloud”, Robert has 15 to 20 customers (whereas before he moved into semi-retirement he was a “private cloud” and took exclusive care of a family estate consisting of three adjacent properties.

Robert also has the knowledge to help me with what to plant, and where, for best results; what to buy and where to buy it; how to solve problems from pests to blight and, most importantly, picks up the approximately six million leaves that fall in my back garden each autumn.

I hope that Robert, my trusty gardener, has simplified this ‘cloud stuff’: the landscape is changing – as it always does – for technology professionals, users, buyers and their executives. There is, as always, an easy three step plan to get it right:
1. Start by documenting your requirements and the desired outcome, not to mention time and budget constraints
2. Collaborate with your vendors and overall supply chain to exploit their knowledge and expertise
3. Plan, plan some more, communicate and apply some rigour and governance to support success (especially since doing otherwise supports failure)

Oh, and, by the way: my cleaners are also in the cloud!

note: I've scaled down in size and in depth of detail to what is, now, I hope, a simple enough analogy that my 83 year old German Father in Law can understand, easily… your comments as always are welcome (the original, slightly more detailed blog entry)

Cloud Warnings

Beware the Cloud-ists!

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Let's start by saying that I like cloud and have done since well before it was called cloud. Clouds have featured in pretty much every solution I’ve designed in the last decade. These days, however, we have the processing power, capacity and bandwidth to enable smart, utility delivery of the commodity aspects of computing which is, in fact, very cool.

This utility delivery of computing resources – again, also known as cloud – is in many ways the stuff of which dreams are have the potential to be made… reduced risk, reduced cost and reduced barriers across what has become a much-simplified business to consumer to business loop.

Ultimately cloud enables a new layer of commerce by delivering increased service levels at overall (over time) reduced costs for computing and communications. Cloud also takes a more than half-decent step towards closing the "digital divide" by increasing availability and minimising or eliminating other barriers to entry.

All of which is of course a good thing, few would disagree. And all of which means that everybody: Businesses, Governments, Consumers, should drop everything and embrace the cloud as quickly as possible!

That last bit was sarcasm, by the way, and brings me to my point: beware the Cloud-ists for whom the answer to any question of technology is cloud. Cloud now, at all costs, to replace everything else.  It seems that, for some, cloud is so important that truth and reality and risk analysis no longer are!

Awareness is Good, Hype is Bad

Cloud Computing has struck a chord and captured the imagination of the public, business and Government in a way that other attempts at delivering utility model computing, ranging from On Demand to first generation SaaS and other such incarnations never did.

Everywhere you look are analysts blogging and tweeting about it: an unbelievable myriad of real-world experts (some of whom know about that of which they speak, others clearly who do not!) and shed loads of books with Cloud in the title have already been published with hundreds more to come.

And this is good, but it is also bad.  An interest in and an understanding of technology is good all round and enough hype and excitement will encourage a few more students to lean in this direction. New business (those that have primarily online presences) can start and scale for tiny investments. As mentioned, barriers are being reduced and eliminated.

The Cloud-ists maintain that private clouds have been a path for vendors to sell more hardware and software but the operational realities of how, physically and why, from a business requirements point of view, that the private cloud is actually delivered need consideration. Sometimes it needs to be separate hardware and sometimes logical separation is sufficient: the differences are subtle but significant. The solution will be based on insights derived from and the commercial realities that are calculated on the actual requirement: does it save money; does it make money; does it solve a problem; does it prevent a problem.

A similar and related misunderstanding that consistently confuses the business / technical relationship (creating more CIO v CTO arguments than could be imagined) is that of virtualisation. From the business view: it is a single blade running multiple instances of a machine so we should pay for a single computer.

The operational and technical reality is that yes, it is a single blade running multiple instances of a machine but each of those virtual machines requires software licenses, needs to be monitored and managed as though it were a separate machine. It may cost less physically but not from a process perspective or other resources involved, including not-inexpensive people.

Safe and Secure… or Not

The answer is again yes, both, but then again, maybe not… unlike the unequivocally positive (and in my opinion mis-informed view of  Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Digital Agenda) who claims, without qualification, that the cloud “is safe, is secure… like a locker that only you have the key and can put anything you want… and that it will always be there!” It can be safe, if safe is part of what you are paying for or if generally you are lucky. But equipment fails and if you are not paying specifically for a disaster recovery capability you can be pretty certain that you won't be getting a disaster recovery capability. And who is to say that you won’t run across Dirty Disk syndrome (where you can recover data from the sessions of the previous user or, worse yet, they can recover yours?) or other possible issues: we do know that the people who try to hack into systems seem rather clever…

As covered in this CIO Journal discussion, compared with real world, industrial strength managed service hosting solutions, cloud providers don’t negotiate service levels with you: you fill out a form; they don’t provide service managers with 24 hour service desk contact… more often than not the help desk is a web-form or maybe live-chat during core business hours (if you don’t mind waiting until their one-man support department is available).

That this star of the European Union goes on to say that “We are not pleading for a European Cloud, that would be old fashioned" is amazingly misguided, at best. Truth is, from someone who seems otherwise, well, okay, this is poor form.

And why would she bother? Forgetting the fact that government involvement in cloud computing is not a State issue – or at least not beyond data protection and other State-level policies or regulations – how is it that the 'vapour' of a new idea is suddenly so cross-popularised that Government officials have  decided to usurp it for themselves.  (And if the Government needs to get involved every time there is a significant shift in tech, where then  is the Department for the App Store or the Bureau de iPhone?)

Thanks to AWS for Proving my Point

The best summary I can muster will be to thank Amazon for their recent outages (note the use of the plural) to show what can happen with commodity cloud offerings.

But I also say cheers regarding major issues on delivery of an ‘upgrade’ at Royal Bank of Scotland / NatWest (a major UK bank) which also clearly illustrates that problems are possible, whether with “discount services” or with what were, at least until now, considered Industrial-strength systems.

Oh… and beware the Cloud-ists!

Stealth-Cloud

The Rise of the Stealth Cloud

"… good reason why the internal IT department cannot ‘knock-out’ application as fast as a nimble start-up"

Stealth-Cloud

The Rise of the Stealth Cloud: read the original (Ian Gotts blog here)

The rise of the Steath Cloud

One element of the debate was the rise of business initiated cloud computing, which the CIO may never hear about.  Something I'm calling the Stealth Cloud

Cloud Computing seems to have struck a chord in a way that ASP, OnDemand, SaaS and all the previous incarnations never have. Every analyst is blogging and tweeting about it, there are a slew of conferences, and a surprising number of books have already been published.

And there is now more than one sort of Cloud. There are Public Clouds and Private Clouds. I propose “Stealth Cloud” should be added to the lexicon.    As the name suggests is does its job – quietly, unseen, unnoticed.

Silver lining?

So business people are embracing the ideas of Cloud Computing. Why? Because they can see immediate value from the applications and services being offered.  And with technology becoming easier to develop there seems to be no limit to what is being provided in the Cloud, all packaged in a very compelling, fun user experience. 

Consumers are business people too

So when the individual is provided with these elegant services as a consumer it is inevitable that they bring them to work. With services such as on-line backup, project management, CRM, collaboration and social networking all available through a browser, is it any surprise business users are signing up and ignoring the staid and boring applications provided by the IT department.

Hence the rise of the Stealth Cloud.  Services being consumed by business users without the knowledge, permission or support of the CIO and the IT department.

The widening business IT divide

Too much has been talked about the Business IT divide. But unfortunately the Stealth Cloud has driven an even greater rift between business and IT.  It is exposing, as far as the business are concerned the lack of flexibility, agility and responsiveness of IT.  From IT’s perspective who can see the risks (operational, compliance and integration) of using some of these Cloud services, is simply underlines how cavalier and naïve the business users are.

Unfair rap

Corporate systems are costly to build and maintain. They are mission critical and need to support the entire operation.  So there is a good reason why the internal IT department cannot ‘knock-out’ application as fast as a nimble start-up.  The IT department is spending 80% of its time and effort ‘keeping the lights on’ and the remaining 20% on providing new solutions that are robust, scalable, secure and integrated into the core applications. How many of the ‘new’ Cloud providers are truly enterprise ready?

1 more reason: Pragmatism…. Cloud computing: Four reasons why it isn’t taking off in Europe

This article – citing Gartner information, of course – blames privacy, policy and the Euro… I reckon there is a lot more to it and that these issues are not entirely to blame: we have a more pragmatic, ‘look before you leap’ attitude in UK and EU business (I have spent plenty of time embedded in both and have experienced both sides of leading edge)

The reality is that a great deal of ‘leading edge’ enterprise computing lags 1 – 2 years behind the American market (similar but slightly shorter lag exists between the USA and Canada, by the way: 1-2 years behind the US adoption curve).

This is not wrong (or maybe it is, but that is a different argument). More importantly, this IS NOT NEW so why are these ‘pundits’ acting as though they’ve uncovered a hidden truth? If you have access do a quick search within the Gartner info base and chances are high you will find essentially the same article, but perhaps written about SOA or something of that nature which Canada, the UK and the EU all, typically, adopted and adapted after our American counterparts.

See the article here

I was interviewed on the same subject on TelecomsTV, which can be viewed on my website.

Some of this is starting to give fluffy white clouds a bad name…

I would have thought it 100% the other way ’round, David: the public cloud is oversold and often the wrong choice

But that it doesn’t have to be that way 😉

As for your statement that “private clouds have indeed been a path for vendors to sell more hardware and software” the operational realities of how physically the private cloud is delivered (yes, physical: it is all on the ground somewhere… nothing is really just off in the ether) belies your statement.

See, it is not always separate hardware. Separation can occur logically… there is a subtle but significant difference and it is all based on, defined from and the commercial realites calculated on the actual requirement.

A similar and related misunderstanding that consistently confuses the business / technical relationship (creating more CIO v CTO arguments than could be imagined) is that of virtualisation…

Business view: it is a single blade running multiple instances of a machine so we should pay for a single computer

Tech reality: yes, it is a single blade running multiple instances of a machine but each of those virtual machines requires software licenses, needs to be monitored and managed as though it were a separate machine. It costs less physically but not from a process perspective

You can read the original article here

 

Cloud is not a panacea.. oh, wait: didn’t I say that already?

My comment in response to a

Why You Really, Truly Don’t Want a Private Cloud:

This guy speaks at conferences! I would ask for my money back (unless the ticket warned: “Zealots within”)

Simple things that for some reason otherwise-intelligent people seem to constantly forget while preaching cloud:

– legacy system issues include already purchased hardware, systems, licenses, architecture and design, talent, process, etc etc.
— without following through on the original business models the forecast benefits and RoI will never be realised – which if allowed to happen requires calculation into any Cloud cost / savings projections

– as per Dov, existing processes (across both the private and public sectors) require adjustment

– as per my entire 32 year career in solutions architecture and technology planning
— *nothing* ever has been, nor is likely to be, a panacea
— almost everything related to people and change takes longer and delivers less return than was projected

Don’t misunderstand me: he is / they are NOT wrong… but in my opinion based on 32 years in the industry, you are not as correct as you think you are and like many others need to stop the generalisations and pontifications and get on with actual delivery .. which requires listening to needs and situations, making observations and determining requirements rather than picking up a paintbrush and a bucket of beige paint.

Couldn’t help adding this after reading some of other comments on the article:

I forgot one other necessary specific:

Kofi, you can’t really think that all public clouds are magically dispersed, diverse, backed up and accessible within the required SLA and OLA levels for that business to earn as planned.. for dirt cheap prices?

And that the expensive private cloud doesn’t provide any of that luxury and in fact makes that which you have designed..
to meet your needs..
and which is under your control
– you contend that this is more susceptible to what, now?

Are you aware that cloud is a new term for old stuff… and that public v. private is simply a commercial model for the same stuff running on the same tin over the same pipes – – and often even in the same data centres?

If so you might benefit from a simple little blog I wrote called ‘My Gardener is in the Cloud’ and all of the other real world pragmatic discussions I have either written or re-blogged here on this page