Monthly Archives: March 2011

The core is shrinking……

To those people who know me then drawing pictures is my ‘thing’. So you wont be surprised that I’ve laid off the words today and tried to put the words into a picture. Do I need to explain it? Not really but simply put….as the Core of the IT business shrinks so does the Value derived from IT increases. Hold this point. It is very important.


The transformation of IT from 100% internal mainframe data centric models of the 1960s and 1970s has slowly moved to a blend of core internal and external services, as delivered by the internet ( to a few ) and then by the web ( to many ). This core shrinks on an accelerated burn in the 21st century as the advent of cloud computing means that an organization is left with a very small core IT service running bespoke, legacy and compliance line of business functions, whilst managing external sourced IT services as a service management function.

You know this right but can you explain it and more importantly, can you quantify the benefit and impact of the shrinking core? Hard isn’t it?


Damn – I had to explain the drawing. Sorry. Sad smile


Work in progress

Ok….I’m in the middle of having a big ‘brain dump’ about how to explain the journey to cloud. The focus is on how ‘easy’ it is to move an application workload with all the coupled networking and storage to the cloud actually is, especially for  legacy applications.

So take a look at this picture. Note is in a Work In Progress state but i know that some of you ( because I know some of you ) love contributing comments to my blog which I totally appreciate.




The image is self-explanatory?

So imagine an application. Say Messaging.

Imagine all the elements of that application stack from Network through to Client.

Imagine that that application has requirements for Management, Availability, Performance and Security. Some more than others right? This is the important bit. Someone will dictate what threshold these Four Pillars will have.

Then you get the four places where that application could reside – physical hardware through to public cloud, This is the journey. It make 10 years’ or 2 weeks but this is where our industry is right now.

Then you get a way to describe the characteristics of the application. For example, if the application is installed onto physical hardware then I show the application as being Tightly Coupled, whilst when it is virtualized ( standard virtualization or private cloud virtualization ) it would be Semi-Coupled, and finally, when the application runs from the public cloud is is Loosely Coupled.

The traffic lights are my assessment therefore of that application’s suitability for the landing location. So based on the above, it looks like private cloud is the best place.

That’s it. So my ask of you is this. Does this work and what am I missing?





Wrong end of the stick

Read an article from a vendor ( who shall rename nameless ) that had me rolling around on the floor ( not literally mind you ).

The article suggested that there were a number of questions that a CIO would ask their IT Manager.

Well the deal breaker for me was this one…………

A. Who is choosing our IT?

Closely followed by………

B. What are we doing to control costs?

With this one not too far behind………….

C. Are we using virtualization, cloud or grid systems?


Now I’m not suggesting the vendor got the context of their pitch wrong or that these questions are daft, but I am suggesting they are the wrong way round.

A CIO is responsible for IT( well being more accurate the achievement of business goals through the use of technology ).

They may employ an IT Manager to perform the day to day infrastructure management and governance role, but decisions on choosing IT ( whatever that means ) , managing costs and whether ‘big ticket’ decisions like cloud or grid would normally not be something a good CIO would be asking their IT Manager.

So I came up with my top 3 questions a CIO may ask their IT Manager instead. What do you think?

A.  What is the capacity today and in 12 months of our network ( and I don’t mean hard disk space )

B. How often do we ‘not’ deliver ‘good’ IT service and why?

C. How many users are within our infrastructure versus those who access our resources externally?

You see the questions are sort of different to those the vendors thinks a CIO is asking. Of course these are just 3. There could be 23 or 103. For illustration however, these 3 tend to really get the IT Manager to think about his/her answer. Think about them for a minute. Not easy to answer and however they are answered you know the CIO will be right back in your face with a few more body punching retorts!!!


Cloud casts a shadow

Do you ever wonder about IT Models? I do.

Well not worry as such but I do think about them a lot. Why?

Well when you try and explain cloud to people you often have to try and explain the logic and natural evolution that we are experiencing rather than some magical up in the sky phenomena that many people in marketing ( at vendors ) make it out to be. Why do they do that BTW?

So in true Brummie-Russ fashion I have produced an image.


So as you can see there are two models – a Primary and a Shadow. See where I am going with this?

The basis is that throughout our lives we have contended with two major technology platforms. So in the 70s it was Mainframe computing and then it evolved to a Shadow platform called Client Server in the 80s and 90s. Then we had the internet which became the shadow, followed by the Web.

So the story goes ( and you can guess where I am headed ) that no matter what is the Primary Model, there is always a Shadow Model which will slowly become the Primary. It is evolutionary and this is what our journey is all about.

Great. Thanks. So what. Well you may not be convinced but for people who distrust the Cloud ( which is probably the Shadow right now but coming up on the rails fast ) , this image is a great way of explaining the roadmap and helps them break down their issues into small identifiable elements.

Now I am speculating ( and no one really knows ) but that by 2020 Cloud will be by far the Primary Model, and all the others ( because Mainframes will still be with us plus Client Server, Internet and Web ) will be the most definite Shadow IT Model.

Believe me?



A must read book


I have now read this twice. The first time was about 3 years’ ago, and the second time, was last night.


In my humble opinion this is a book will change the way you think about technology and business strategy. People often say “I never know what question to ask people when talking about technology”. Well Carr’s question is a damn fine one in my experience.

Why? Well there are 3 answers you will get. Guaranteed.

  1. Yes it does. In this case you can then ask more questions to understand what part of IT matters to that person and how they perceive IT’s relevance to what is important to them. Oh by the way. This person can be your friend, family or customer. Same principle.
  2. No it doesn’t. So you either have to convince them that IT actually does matter or you will struggle to get them to be too interested in anything you have to see that is technology related.
  3. I’m not sure. So either they are the wrong person or you need to work harder talking to them to actually get under their skin and identify that how they use IT is actually very important ( or not ).

So get yourself a copy of this book. Read it and I guarantee you will know a lot more about the questions to ask next time you speak to someone about technology.

The scary thing is that Carr wrote this in 2003. Cloud wasn’t ‘invented’ then but you cant help realise that he had a great insight into what we talk about every waking minute! Smile



In a dark corner of your mind when you sit back and contemplate you may get to the point I often arrive at – which is why? Now I’m not talking about the big bang theory, whether we should stop nuclear power or hit the streets to protest against world poverty, No I’m talking about all this cloud talk.

In your subconscious I reckon several times a day you will find yourself saying ‘why’ to a discussion about cloud computing.

Now wind the clock back 10 or 25 years. Remember asking why to lots of other technological events in your lifetime – hole in the wall ATMs, booking air travel online, text messaging, mobile comms and even email!

We are so pessimistic as a generation that even when we are sitting in the solution to our problems we would rather go around talking it down and putting up barriers. If we were at a party then our glass would be permanently half empty. Get it!!

The modern generation wont ask why. They will ask when. You see they have a luxury in that they haven’t got the ‘chip on the shoulder’ that we have. They don’t need to make a name for themselves by always being the naysayer. They want to succeed, they want to travel and they want to get where they are going – quickly.

Hate to say it guys but we have got to stop asking why and start asking when. Its more fun!!



Your help please

For a change I want to to use my blog to get some feedback. I know I have a few people who post comments ( THANKS BTW) and I know that some of you are ‘ in the industry’.

So the image below is what I see is happening with regard to the drive towards a more digitized world. Being blunt – people keep information longer and this has the effect of exhausting the traditional ‘private’ storage platforms and means the inevitable switch to cheap but unlimited ‘public’ storage clouds.


As you look at this image does it resonate? I can see the barriers from a security, audit and compliance perspective and for many even locating and classifying data is a task and a half. Now I know people will say the ‘Public’ cloud cannot be a viable place to store information but when you consider how we are all using it already I think there is a shift to this model.

The cost of storing low level transactions ( in certain sectors – right? ) will eventually exceed a private infrastructures ability to fund the cost of storage, backup, people and process so they will be forced to find cheaper and less disruptive public storage services. This is the point of the blog post.

Issues such as how applications surface this data is stored in disparate data centers of course is a big design consideration as is all the issues around backup and recovery. Sure these are problems but in 5 to 10 years’ time will they be?

The basis for this shift turn is going to come from all sorts of places but see what Gartner is saying…”The Gartner 2011 CIO Survey reveals that almost half of all CIOs expect to operate their applications and infrastructures via cloud technologies within the next five years”.

To me this will mean CIOs will ‘carve up’ their IT into buckets that can be associated with private and public compute platforms ( hybrid – right ? ) and this will have a massive impact on storage and where data resides.

My tipping point is a question mark? No one really knows the answer but the clues are what I am asking for?

So go on – don’t be shy!


How thick is yours?

I’m referring to the thickness of IT strategy documents and proposals for solutions, and revisit a quotation I picked up from somewhere that sums up the issue we all face as an industry.


So lets break this down. How often have you been confronted with a document – say a bid, white paper, consulting paper or strategic document – that has a table of contents that spans more than one page? You know what I mean. We have all seen them. The document author had a set of scales next to their printer, and was focused on the weight of the document in Pounds rather than the weight of the quality statements they made.

Perhaps the ‘cut and paste’ disease attracts the ‘I will just dump some content from a web page as an Appendix’ or ‘if i put lots of generic pictures in’. Have you ever tried to write a one page document? Or have you ever tried to fit your goal and statement into less than 250 words? Really hard isn’t it.

But this is the point. Whether it is the demand for fast answers to questions or the enormous amount of content people have to read on their travels from a wide range of devices, the days of measuring Good IT Strategy is no longer by the thickness of paper.

The interesting bit is the second part of the thought provoking statement at the start of this post. Read the words again. The degree of business alignment and quality of thought. Now does any of this mean ‘a 300 page document’? No.

Now I’m not going to get into the weeds on how to present a business case. I’m no expert but what I would say is that the modern world is now looking for something different.

Remember that the audience is now changing with regard to ‘signing off IT projects’ and the people making the decisions don’t have the time nor interest to read through big documents. Instead they want Information. This could be presented as a big thick document sure but they wont read it. They want punchy statements that can be measured and understood. They want strategy aligned to what matters to them. They want the costs of doing IT clearly mapped out and set alongside some value measurement. They want the information presented in a way that it can ‘live’ and not just be a point in time statement. And finally they want quality in the thought. So they want originality not something someone else has said but in a different context. Do you know how hard it is to come up with original thought? Really hard but it makes you stand out provided you have the ‘stones to back it up ‘ of course!

The key thing with writing documents or presenting information is the underlying ‘So what’. This refers to the words you have written and whether to the reader or listener the words mean anything.

Have you ever wondered why people have stopped producing big documents and moving to slideware and videos to get their message across? Simple. because they can be so much more effective and have ‘life’ as opposed to the traditional 300 page document. In a fast moving and agile world this is a significant food for thought.

Oops…this blog is a lot of words – i should do videos!!??




Adam Smith

Have you ever read any of Adam Smith’s writing? No? Don’t worry most of us wont have ( including me )

But i do recall in the dim distant past that i read him in a doomed Economics A level exam when I was 17, So it was fortunate that  I caught up with the other day in a magazine article , and as I tend to do started drifting off to the cloud.

The article that caught my eye was the transformation of manual diversified labour intensive tasks that cluttered the industrial landscape of Mr Smith’s informative years, and the modern, agile, automated technological world that we live in today.

Particularly the sentence below caught my eye.

Smith wrote “one man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it…..and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations…”

Then I thought of all the people I know, and thought of all the things we do each day to get by.

Things that we have always done that way, things that others do that affect us and things that we don’t do that annoy others. It struck that amongst all the glitz and glamour of a 21st century existence, there are still people straightening, cutting, pointing and grinding…….. in IT. Now consider what Smith would say about Cloud because if you are true to the concepts and characteristics of cloud then there is no “straightening, cutting, pointing and grinding…..” You see this is done for you by other people.

I think Smith would have liked Cloud Computing – don’t you?

A bit deep today.