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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?!

The Business of Cloud homepage

 

cloud-cost-savings-outlook-rainy

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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big-data-graphic

Big Data, Big Deal

Big Data, Big Deal

My latest blog as posted at  at ComparetheCloud.net: it is your data, not big data, that matters (but even that has limited relevance until you know what you want to do with it)

It is easy to drown in big data articles, let alone the numbers that they quote: companies counting customer transactions in the millions (or more) per day, websites with literally billions of photos and videos, not to mention 3000 tweets per second! We are inundated with broad brush information but, like the data being written about, the relevance to you and your business is not so clear… it is your data, not big data, that matters but even that has limited relevance until you know what you want to do with it.

big-data-graphic
Data is of course aggregating at an amazing rate but this is nothing new… it’s clearly been happening for quite some time. What has changed is that, as that data piles up, awareness of the potential value within it is increasing. Combined with advances in technology and the delivery of that technology, storage and access costs are drastically reduced which creates opportunities to derive information, intelligence and insights from that data (in many cases, an asset you already own!)  .. Read the rest here

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).

Einstein

Big Data – reduced to a buzz word |via @Data_Nerd

A good read: personally I think it isn’t as bad as cloud has been hyped but all along assumed that it would get there: according to @Data_Nerd, it already has  (my 2013 update: could be the hype is even worse!)

A “buzz word”, that is what data has been reduced too. “Big Data” is now a common phrase used to describe numerous counts of different types of data, social media data, point of sale data, financial data, digital and visual data…. Arg, make it stop. But what is it “really” and what makes it useful versus noise?

via Big Data – reduced to a buzz word | Analytical-Solution.com.

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

cloudking_570

6 Signs of a Maturing Cloud-Computing Industry ???

A little overstated, like most, but better balanced than many – … but not so much when he says traditional models are 'dying all over' but has a 5 year prediction for the end of media delivered software !! From Wired.com

I am continually surprised at how fast the cloud computing industry is maturing and growing. There is news everyday of radical advances in IT delivery through the cloud. Every industry goes through phases and growth pains until..

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path ahead

SMBs Are Adopting Virtualization, Cloud and Mobility for Improved Disaster Preparedness According to a Symantec Survey – MarketWatch

path ahead

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA, May 14, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — Symantec Corp. SYMC -0.52% today announced the findings of its 2012 SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey, which discovered that disaster preparedness is closely connected with small and medium sized businesses' (SMBs) adoption of technologies like virtualization, cloud computing, and mobility. The survey also revealed how willing SMBs are in adopting these technologies, often with improved disaster preparedness as a goal, and how the move is paying off for them.

 

"Today's SMBs are in a unique position to embrace new technologies that not only provide a competitive edge, but also allow them to improve their ability to recover from a disaster while protecting the information that their businesses depend on," said Steve Cullen, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for SMB and .Cloud at Symantec Corp. "SMBs cannot afford lengthy downtimes so the ability to quickly recover from a disaster is critical. Technologies such as virtualization, cloud computing, and mobility, combined with a sound plan and comprehensive security and data protection solutions, enable SMBs to better prepare for and quickly recover from potential disasters such as floods or fires, as well as lost or stolen mobile devices and laptops."

 

 

 

Click through to view complete article and Survey Highlights

SMBs Are Adopting Virtualization, Cloud and Mobility for Improved Disaster Preparedness According to a Symantec Survey – MarketWatch.

The Absurdity of Cloud Computing and Hosted Services

Don't get me wrong, now: I like clouds… my problem is that over the last 30 years I have seen more than one panacea that isn't (and worse yet, people keep talking as if cloud is new!)

Contributed By: Dan Dieterle

I’ve seen some crazy things in the IT world in the last 5 of my 20 years of experience in the field, but the push to move to cloud computing and hosted services has got to be the craziest thing I have seen so far. Please let me explain.

Times are bad right now, and companies are making hard decisions about their IT staffing and services.

Somehow in the last 5 – 10 years or so, IT support seems to have gone from a mission critical status to being considered overhead. As other departments have had to do, significantly reduced IT departments are now supporting more devices, services and people with fewer staff.

As with other departments, older IT staff members have been “encouraged out the door” and replaced with fewer, lesser experienced staff. I have seen Unix server administrators put in charge of administrating Windows servers, even though they had no experience supporting them. Not sure of the executive thinking there – they are both servers, so they must be the same?

read the rest at The Absurdity of Cloud Computing and Hosted Services.

Google CIO Ben Fried doesn’t get “timing”

The short answer is that yes, internet start ups can build and scale on a level previously unimaginable without investing a penny in actual tin.

The longer answer starts by saying that not all companies are internet start ups.

He presents a shortsighted and inexperienced view: I know that life on the rather wealthy Google Campus (or any of a dozen others) is not the same as life in the real world, but I am not sure that he knows that fact himself!

His view is yet another over-simplification: the problems are just not perceived or seen as clearly by those whose experience is only of today’s network and technology centric workplace and who have no experience of the ‘old’, let alone of transforming from ‘old’ to ‘less old but not new’  or ‘to shiny new’ or to understand the costs and impact of that transformation.

Some businesses have industrial-strength requirements that start ups (who can fiddle with msSQL databases, php accounting software and gmail addresses) don’t have… larger more established business needs go beyond ‘this is cheaper today’ and includes extracting maximum returnfrom current investments (in kit, in processes, in people, in supplier relationships, in real estate etc. etc.)

If you are starting fresh you might well always say ‘pick a nice shiny cloud’ .. you might even argue that you would want that to be the answer in any case – and it might be… but the implications for enterprise software (Oracle or SAP or other silly expensive silly inflexible things) …and if you own the kit your cost models tell you when it makes sense to stop owning it… but even then you are often ‘stuck’ with the software provider’s cloud, which is not always going to be a good thing. . yet…

But while it all comes down to timing you also have to know what came before – and why it came before – prior to deciding to change what comes next into something other-than-what-was-planned… even if it is failing you need to look at the whole picture (albeit while killing it as quickly as it should be) if for no other reason than to see what were the errors from which you should have learned.

 

 

Google CIO Ben Fried Says Cloud Tipping Point Is At Hand – The CIO Report – WSJ.

Why Publishers Don't Like Apps - Technology Review

The Delivery Vehicle is, has been and for sometime will be, the web

Why Publishers Don't Like Apps - Technology Review

Apps are not the wave of the future, merely another way to deliver web content – – and it is not financially viable and so cannot make business sense for every business, every publication, every content provider to create their own apps.

especially if they've looked at the future of the web, and HTML5…

and even more so if they have a clue about the sustainable economic use of tech to deliver value to a business (as opposed to costing it a fortune or it's existence)

So, when I read an article stating that maybe apps aren't the disruptor for media (nor a fave of media publishers) that they were thinking they might be, all I can respond with is "duh!".

This is exactly what I have been saying since this 'generation' of apps first appeared on smartphones – – and reinforced by LinkedIn's 90%+ HTML5 implementation of their iPad app

The Delivery Vehicle is, has been and for sometime will be, the web

And

This does *not* apply only to media delivery but to information creation, delivery and consumption… I would love to hear your thoughts after you check out this article

Why Publishers Don't Like Apps – Technology Review

 

Not so easy to pass

Standards—Interoperability To Fuel Converged Cloud Growth

Now, THAT is a mouthful…

"Standards and interoperability" in the IT world too often means time wasted and money spent, as seen throughout 30 years of my careers including deep personal involvement (I have the scars, still!) in the Unix wars.

The *last* thing that standards and interoperability will do is fuel growth… and by the way, whose cloud? Do they really think that we think that there is one big happy cloud? NO… we have thousands and thousands of clouds, most with gates and fences and big locks and alarm systems.

So, contrary to the attached article, I still think that is is Security that is somewhat of a roadblock… when we get to the points where all of the officious ideologues and standards-flying freaks start to crawl from the word works we know two things:

1. cloud is here to stay

2. things will start to get painful!

see Full Article at Demand For Standards—Interoperability To Fuel Converged Cloud Growth

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Don Quixote

Reasons why I hate the term ‘cloud’ (via IBM)

Four reasons why I hate the term “cloud” ..from the IBM Cloud website… ( I wish I had written this article!)

Four reasons why I hate the term “cloud”

I think most readers of this blog probably know there is no single “cloud.”  Saying something is “on the cloud” is about as specific as saying something is “on the Internet.”  This term isn’t going away – but that’s okay, because I really like hopeless causes.

They might be giants, but they’re probably accountants out to get me for this blog entry.  

So, here are some reasons why you might want to be a little more specific in your communications than “the cloud,” especially if you’re a service provider:

  1. There isn’t a single cloud. 

     

    As mentioned above, many people think in terms of the cloud, not a cloud.  A friend of mine recently got on Apple’s iCloud and told me that he was on “my cloud.”  Well, not really.  It’s better to say “IBM SmartCloud Enterprise” or “Amazon EC2 Cloud” or “Apple iCloud” than “the cloud.”  Even within an organization, it is certainly possible that there would be different private clouds for different purposes.  IT professionals and leaders might not even be talking in terms of “cloud” in a few years because it will simply be the way computing is done!

  2. There are many types of cloud. 

     

    This is similar to the previous reason – but I already said there were four reasons, so tough luck.  In addition to cloud services being offered by different vendors, IBM internally offers a private development/test compute cloud, a private storage cloud, a private desktop cloud, an analytic cloud, and many others.  These all meet the NIST definition of clouds, but they are for significantly different purposes and have significantly different architectures.  Although they could possibly be integrated at a high level to appear to be one cloud (by having all services through the same portal), underneath they would still be separate infrastructures, and the use cases for them are so different that such integration might not help much.  To stretch the definition of “integrated” a little, they’re already “integrated” in that they’re all available through the same web browser using corporate credentials.

  3. Many people think that “the cloud” is magic. 

     

    Admittedly, many people think computers are magic, but even some people who are very familiar with computers are blinded by “the cloud.”  One friend of mine (who is brilliant) nonetheless thought that “the cloud” could automatically take any existing application and magically spread out the workload so that it could scale out.  Not true; the application would have to be written as a “cloud-aware” agent capable of requesting more resources, and would probably need a cap on it to ensure that it did not incur too many charges without approval.  He was rather disappointed to find out the truth – that cloud computing is simply a different model with the same old mundane computers beneath it.  I enjoy crushing dreams and expectations, though.  Which leads us to my last reason:

  4. Talking about “the cloud” implies that it’s a thing rather than a service model. 

     

    As I mentioned, per the NIST definition, cloud computing is a model for computing services.  To me, the most important piece is on demand self-service, meaning that you can use services in an automated fashion without waiting for another human to help you unless something goes wrong.  Practically anything that meets these requirements can be used or sold in a cloud model, even some things that have been around for years!  What’s different here is that the number of these services is growing so quickly, the interfaces between them are standardizing somewhat so that different services can be swapped in and out for different purposes, and that these services are able to make use of other cloud services in an automated fashion.  The biggest impact of cloud computing might not be in humans requesting services, but in cloud agents requesting services on behalf of humans!

I don’t want to sell short the promise of cloud in any way; after all, the difference between a diamond and a lump of coal is simply one of arrangement, and the cloud computing model is leading to some amazing new business models and strategies.  But you should think in terms of what you can do with the cloud model, not what “the cloud” does.  Using “the cloud” is waiting around for someone to create a service you can use, like Gmail or iCloud backups.  Embracing the cloud model means that as a cloud service consumer, you can build cloud-aware applications that allocate and use cloud resources on your behalf.  As a provider of service, embracing the cloud model means thinking of innovative ways to provide services to your clients in a self-service, metered, elastic manner.

More blurring of the lines between consumer, user, business and Enterprise!

Intel, McAfee Promote Dynamic Plan for Securing the Cloud…  Just like the IBM adverts for cheap blades in the free London Evening Standard newspaper, ‘cloud’ offerings and ‘cloud’ definitions across the net are helping to confuse the confused (and make more difficult the already tricky job of being trusted to de-confuse things!)

Just another one of many recurring problems…

Link to original article at PC Magazine re Intel, McAfee Promote Dynamic Plan for Securing the Cloud (or at http://bit.ly/Kc5eAG)
You might also like my blog: my Gardener is in the Cloud where I hopefully make “that cloud thing” little more clear
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