Monthly Archives: February 2011

Proud to be a BrummieRuss Today

 

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So for my friends in America who visit my blog from time to time let me explain. My team – Birmingham City or the Blues – haven’t won any significant cup since 1963 and have never won anything at Wembley of any true value. So this was a historic victory, We beat our arch rivals – Aston Villa – on the way so its even sweeter, and our opponents in the final – Arsenal – had only the other week beaten Barcelona one of the best teams in the world!

I am definitely up the in the clouds tonight!! Best things come to those who wait.

Keep Right On To The End of The Road.

Smile Smile

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Coming Soon – The DNA of the Cloud

Probably because Sunday is the day my team – BIRMINGHAM CITY – are in the final of a major soccer competition at Wembley that I will not post anything today. However, I have been thinking a lot about the DNA of a cloud in computing terms and this post is just to say – COMING SOON.

Keep right on to the end of the road…….

Brummie.

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Bring your own ( technology )

When I was growing up Bring your own had connotations of bringing your own bottle of plonk or pack of beer to a party or to some of the less salubrious curry restaurants I used to frequent.

But now we have Bring Your Own Technology or BYOT.

Yes we know this. Of course. People use their own mobile phones, their notebooks and their own broadband at home to carry out business. So it got me thinking how much of a BYOT people really are and what does a corporate IT department really need to provide a person to carry out their jobs.

This is interesting because it has a direct relationship to the whole cloud thing. You see there is a unstoppable wave of change heading towards traditional IT departments who provide all the computing needs to their end users. This wave of change is CHOICE and VALUE FOR MONEY. Of course people will cry ‘but what about security’ and ‘losing our intellectual property’.

However, when you look at how people use applications and data it does feel that a lot of their IT needs can be satisfied by becoming a BYOT. When I think about most of the posts on this blog and about every other blog about technology, you see a shift to technology being delivered outside the traditional IT user environment e.g. a PC, a corporate notebook, a corporate phone and applications that physically reside in their data center.

The extent of BYOTs in our corporate environments is dramatically on the increase, driven by over-worked IT managers’ realising they cant treat all users the same, and that costs can be redistributed by offsetting tax breaks, CAPEX to OPEX and streamlined service desk operations.

All this of course is led by the proliferation of cloud applications which means that for many corporate users a browser is the tool of the trade. Of course, this doesn’t fill all users and the classic phrase ‘user chooser’ is becoming critical.

Looking into the future you can see a case for a BYOT also wanting to user their own applications to collaborate. Perhaps Facebook will become the desktop of the future or a cloud virtual desktop serves all their applications needs on a ‘price per month’ fee from a cloud broker.

I just wish whoever invented BYOT ( I suspect its Citrix ) they had came up with a better phrase. I mean BYOT – Jesus!!

Have a good weekend.

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Car Park Behaviour

Do you relate to this picture?

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So we all look for shortcuts in our every day life, and a car park barrier with a way round without having to get out of the car seems to sum up a lot about our technology daily toil. I’m sure we can come up with many others where the technology says one thing but we will do our utmost to make it do something else. innovation I guess.

But how does the car park metaphor lie when considering the cloud?

I mean the elements of choice are reduced as services are delivered from a data center ( probably not yours ) as part of a service contract without any room for ‘local’ work around. How will we cope?

Well this is the point of cloud. By moving your data and your applications to the cloud you are effectively making sure all your users are going through the barrier. There is no way to go any other way. Do you agree? Or do you believe that by moving to the cloud you are actually giving your users the choice to make their own way through or round the barrier. Some will argue that this is the purpose of cloud when people say cloud ‘powers’ businesses. Do you agree?

Is the cloud the equivalent of putting up barriers to prevent ‘lazy’ drivers from driving round the barrier on a cold day? Or is the equivalent of giving them the freedom to do what they need to do to get to work quicker? Great analogy. Well it makes me chuckle anyway.

Will leave it there. Worst case the picture will make you smile.

Smile

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Common language

 

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Is this you? Is this you with your family? Is this you with your boss? Is there a chasm of misunderstanding between technology and business? Do your kids want some gadget that worries you about data security and unwanted snooping by undesirables?

The 21st century has seen a flattening of the gaps between what technology can achieve and how we consume these features to the best effect. There is no doubt that this has occurred and long may it continue. The ‘gap’ is closing definitely as we accelerate our understanding and capability for stretching how technology can change our lives. But dont you think that this conversation is not always smooth running, and do you think that this is because we have often immovable forces coming together with different agendas?

Lets consider the ‘scenarios’ we face each day.

  • Child wants to use Facebook; parent is concerned about privacy and says no.
  • Marketing director wants to deploy presence technology to aid sales people; IT Manager says it contravenes security policies and says no.
  • Husband wants to buy a e-book reader for his wife’s’ Xmas; the wife wants hard back books and say no.
  • Application development manager wants to use a cloud platform for dev & Test: CIO says until we have a cloud strategy the answer is no.
  • Analyst wants a tablet to improve collaboration and mobility; CFO is concerned about Wi-Fi costs and says no.

 So OK there are probably more extreme examples of this Yes and No conversation but the interesting thing is why people say no.  I wouldn’t say it is fear as there are very good compliance and security reasons but there is definitely a fear of the unknown and a tendency to unconsciously react with a stock answer – No.

But there is a change. People in position of power ( a parent,  a CFO ) are now seeing the trend towards more open minded thinking ( with sensible controls and governance ) taking hold. This will only mean good things for our industry because we need this Yes/No conversation to be addressed by standards people, governments, industry thought leaders and yes, parents.

A friend of mine used to say – Maybe is Never be. People who are afraid to say Yes or No too often will say Maybe. If my friend worked in IT ( he is a gas fitter ) then he would have made an excellent ‘cloud’ sales person – he would never take no for an answer.Smile

In my experience, it is fine to say No provided you know why, and in the world of cloud computing I think there are far too many May Be’s that we need to address one way or the other.

     

Brummie.

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A picture that says it all

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And if you don’t get it……….

Imagine you are at sea and the sea is calm….does this make you a skilful sailor?

What happens if there is a dark threatening cloud ahead? Got it now Smile

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Workload or Infrastructure

So lets start a debate where there is no right or wrong answer. Look at this picture.

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That’s you in the bottom left hand corner. Data center out of control. Messy. Ad hoc. Heroic and very expensive. Lets call it the On Premise Model.

So your choices are as follows;

  • you can migrate specific line of business workloads into the Public Cloud where you are promised Better Costs ( lower ) and a Good Service.
  • or you can migrate all your infrastructure (servers, storage, networking and services ) to a Hosted Data Center ( call it a  Private Cloud provider ) where you will get a Better Service and a Good Cost service contract.

    Note that you can mix and match these choices as many of us (today ) actually do. Many will call this a Hybrid Cloud. I do and I believe this is where we are at. Talk of 100% migrations to and from cloud are slideware.

Now for the other choice. You can to a Private Cloud model that offers the nirvana of self service. automation, agility, elasticity and the Best Cost and Best Service. Note. This Private Cloud could be in your datacenter will all the rigours suggested or in someone elses or split between several people with federation and strong governance and service management.

So what does this all mean. Depending on the type of person you are, your view of technology may fit into two camps: application workloads or infrastructure components. So you are at home. You may be passionate about the games you play on the internet ( your workload apps ) or you are a student downloading content, searching for research and collaborating on data ( your infrastructure). People will use terms like ‘HD gaming experiences’, or ‘fast access to information’ or ‘unlimited storage’ or ‘wireless from anywhere in the house’. You see as an individual your views of the ‘perfect IT’ will vary massively. Of course it would do; there is so much choice for a home IT experience. Long may it continue.

Cloud for this type of person offers amazing opportunities as it can offer BOTH applications and infrastructure e.g. cloud printing, cloud storage, streaming applications and content, subscriber IT as a service, heterogeneity for devices and ultimately, cost effective IT.

Now you are a corporate organisation. How are these broken down?

For organizations’ there is a bunch of workloads – ERP, CRM – and a bunch of infrastructure – PCS, WAN, SAN. Now these are intrinsically linked together. They need each other. But cloud is beginning to ‘separate’ this relationship. But people still are afraid of the cloud because they worry about the effort and risk they would undergo if they decided to migrate. Sure easy workloads like email and possibly voice are already mature cloud services, but when we will our industry get stuck into the weeds with the big hitting workloads.

Well I think the problem is that we have conflicts of interest, immature ways of assessing costs and impact, self-preservation agendas in IT teams and too much choice ( and confusion). Sure over time people will get familiar with the choices and the methodology to make the right decisions. Throw in some certification and industry standards and yes time will demonstrate how cloud is going to become mainstream.

Is there an answer? Sure lots of them! All I am showing is that there is choice and opportunity but knowing what you are looking at is a major starting point. Do the vendors know? Sadly. No. Because alone they cant possibly! They may have smart technology and endless R&D budgets but they lack the knowledge and experience of managing corporate environments and having to ‘do more with less’.

Phew that was a long sermon tonight!!Smile

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Cloudonomics

I made this word up. Well I think I did. Everyone nowadays makes a play on words so why cant I? Did you like SWIVELNESS I made up ( and now use ) to describe the amount of ‘turning’ we do every day between devices and technology?

When I was younger I studied Economics. I thought it sounded clever and mysterious and none of my mates were doing it. I failed – badly. I got bored. I didn’t understand (nor did i think it was relevant), how supply and demand worked nor how things like unemployment, inflation, economic growth, and monetary and fiscal policy were going to affect me.

But now with the cloud paradigm shift I think there is a overwhelming need for a better understanding of a new version of economics called………..

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It touches all aspects of business, technology, people, process and governance. It requires a brain that can understand not only what technology can do ( the easy bit ) , but also the economics how sustainable investments will be, where savings can be made, where profits can accrue, where returns can be made and where anyone who goes into the cloud be better off.

It may look like pie charts, graphs and dashboards. It may be immersed in business case documents, corporate presentations and shareholder reports. For an individual or small business person this will largely be an easy economic decision ( its cheaper to get my IT from the cloud ), but for a large organization there will be complexity and economic discussions that need to be had alongside all the obvious technology ones.

So I reckon Cloudonomics is implicit for some and very much explicit for others. It comes with the territory these days. For some Cloudonomics is unconscious meaning they believe they should move to the cloud and do so without any real strategy or plan. But for others it is a very conscious thing. They expect to see where the savings and hidden costs will be. They will look for risk and liability. They will expect to predict cash flow and benefit analysis. At the end of the day for a lot of us cloud will come down to financial judgement just as much as the technical ‘wow’ and ‘performance ‘gee wiz’.

Now as you know economics came from the Ancient Greeks as a term to describe how they managed their households and laws, and since then there are many spin of variants of the economic characteristic. We now have a new one when we talk about cloud computing and the next shift of technology. I think it resonates well because of the much tighter alignment of technology to business success, just like governments talk fiscal policies and social economics.

So in close, whilst I have made up the word I do sort of like what it means as it groups all the thoughts and gates we have to go through to fully understand and embrace the cloud.  Perhaps there will be a Cloudonomics degree I can take?

Smile

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LOL – Listen Or Lose

So does it mean Laugh Out Loud or Lots of Love…..the debate rages on but lets throw another one into the ring…

 LISTEN OR LOSE

 

 The context is obviously technology related ( this is my blog right!) so I’m saying that people that listen  will learn but people who dont listen will lose it. Now the lose could be quite devastating. We will all meet people who talk about the ‘old days’ or ‘how it used to be done’ and whilst this has some merit, the world we are now living in quite often means new rules and new ways of doing things. The wise owl ‘fountain of all knowledge’ is having to learn to listen and not just say the same old stuff they used to spout. I should know – I’m no spring chicken!

So where is this blog going??? Well the morale is that in the cloud computing shift that we are supposedly in  there is a tendency to be led by people who ‘don’t listen’. These people just assume that because they have a product or some marketing collateral that cloud is a no brainer. These people also come from the school “i have been in the industry so long that I know everything’” and believe they ‘cant learn’. These people do not really listen to what people want and ultimately will lose. Listen or lose.

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take care.

Paul.

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Where do you draw the line …with cloud

When considering cloud ( or any technological advancement ) do you think people consider the Benefit Line?  That is the line that exists in their organization ( or their personal life ) that they use to justify staying with a piece of technology, or that drives them to embrace a new piece of technology.

So you have a Blackberry device. It costs you $25 per month, and serves you voice, mail and messaging. Where is your benefit line? Is it above or below the cost you outlay each month? I suspect it is well above the cost line , so any move to another piece of technology from another vendor will have to aggressively lower the cost line for you to see it is a replacement. For most of us, the benefit line has to be significantly higher then the cost line. I think that’s pretty obvious.

But in the corporate world, the blurring of cost and benefit lines is so immersed in complexity, legacy, obsolescence, governance and business transformation that the lines criss cross so significantly that businesses make ( or don’t make ) decisions based on quite often the wrong values.

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Now in my humble opinion the graph above looks easy on the eye and fairly compelling provided ( and this is the hard bit ) that you can actually define what’s in  the Benefit from IT bucket.

Clearly there are few worthy nominations for this bucket such as Increased business bottom line revenues, increased net new profits, market share, attracting new customers and so forth. Then you can add in things like customer satisfaction index, service availability uptime, security incidents ( or lack of them ) and so on. You can measure individual applications, business units, specific projects, geographic regions – whatever is important to the organization really.

Then the cost bucket will have the usual direct and indirect costs that we all love to hate – hardware, licensing, people and so on. Many organizations will nail this down to a ‘cost per transaction’ so they can identify how changes to anything that helps deliver that transaction will affect their benefit line. The transaction can be anything – a book being sold, a service provided or a fee paid for allowances. As businesses’ mature they really now are in tune with this discussion and are keen to see how IT is fairing with the delivery of this benefit line.

Why is this so important? Well the light bulb moment is when you can sit down and draw up your own benefit line. It could be a personal one as the Blackberry example or it could for someone in business you know well. Friend or customer.

Be careful though. Many people will say ‘trying to find a cost per transaction sounds good on paper but in reality its a waste of time’. Now I think these people are the same ones who say ‘ROI and TCO are for analysts; they don’t have  a place in the real world’. Some of these people will go further and say ‘measuring the value of IT is pointless; IT is a cost center and we just write off the overhead without trying to measure the benefit’; we just try to reduce the IT budget each year’.

To counter these arguments against looking at cost and benefit lines I often think that there is a direct correlation between these two lines in anything we do with IT. Its just that it needs some effort to work out (1) what we want to measure cost and benefit as (2) getting people to agree the approach (3) getting people to want to measure and respond to the results and (4) using the results to consciously negotiate with suppliers and vendors who are ‘unable’ to position their products in the context of the cost and benefit line discussion. Remember also that there will be emotional benefit lines where key people will have the ‘corridor’ view of where these lines are ( and where they should be). Its usually the CEO or CFO or your father ( if its your daughter that wants the Blackberrry !).

Now take the diagram above and consider how you position cloud computing. Easy isn’t it? The last sentence to me is massive. What do you think?

Smile

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