Monthly Archives: April 2011

A Cloud strategy meeting


Brummie Smile


Poignant moment

One of my few followers to the BrummieRuss blog kindly sent me the image below;


It represents a summary of the lifetime of my blog in a nice snazzy look and feel. What struck me the most was the emphasis on some key words, and none more than the most frequently used word BUSINESS.What made me think was the propensity of other keywords – Cloud (obviously), people, service, private, journey, decision and know. This pleased me a lot.

Point of this post? None at all other than to thank my follower, and to make me think of what I have been thinking whilst writing all my posts. God I am so predictable – LOL.



Is the C letter still the most popular?

A while back I did a post about the most used phrase in our world of technology and cloud. I argued that the letter C stood out as a clear winner over the other 25 contenders.

image  Well now the time has come to stand up a new letter.

So my new pitch is that the letter A is the newcomer on the ‘most popular words used in our

technology world today block’. I clarify this statement by saying these words are not technical words, but more the commercial and selling words that are now part and parcel of our everyday conversation. Oh and they are just my thoughts. Nothing too serious but you know how it is – you don’t realise you are using these words until people tell you !!!


So come on guys – tell me what you think and volunteer up your contenders for the title of “MOST POPULAR LETTER IN THE ALPHABET OF TECHNOLOGY TERMS EXCLUDING THE OBVIOUS ONES LIKE RAM, DISK, PRINTER, USER, CODE ETC ETC”



Spot the mistake?

I was rooting through a load of images I had produced for a book I had written and I found this one. Now I created the image about 2 years ago, but immediately spotted one error.


Because some of you are kind enough to post replies I thought I would leave this post open ended to see what replies you can come up with ( no rude ones please )


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Do nothing

It dawned on me the other day that as an industry we too often  miss the one option open to the people they are trying to sell to. The Do Nothing option.


I have lost count the times I have seen pitches, documents, presentations, and conversations that ‘assume’ that the outcome will result in something being changed, purchased or commissioned.

Do nothing most certainly is an option. Anyone who knows a thing or two about producing business cases know this option only two well, and sometimes, really struggle to justify their proposition for change against overwhelming odds that actually DOING NOTHING is the BEST option.

As always I’m not telling you anything new other than perhaps awakening a different perspective to the art of selling technology. You see we all come from the angle that there is always a better way to do something, and technology is the secret ingredient. I’ve done it myself many times. But now I add in the Do Nothing option to ensure there is balance and objectivity. Why?

I think I have said this before ( but no apologies for saying again ) that there is always someone involved in your work or personal life who will have the final say so ( parent, policeman, jobs worth car parking attendant, CFO, local politician, fellow traveller etc ). These people all retain the right to DO NOTHING and if you haven’t prepared for this response then you will be severely disappointed.

Producing balance and objectivity is a skill. An art in fact. You cant learn it., You have to experience the disappointment and success, and work with others to ensure that you get the desired effect.

have a great day ( doing something useful and not doing nothing !)



Which way do you go

I’m back. Hope you had a great Easter break! As a result, this post is going to be short and sweet.

Imagine a signpost. Its your job to decide on what options there are for your infrastructure journey and to help people make the right choice.

Here is mine.


So I have four possible routes. Of course in reality, all four routes may be equally appropriate and may all need investigating. Each route represents a typical influence on a technology decision. Each route has dependencies on each other and perfectly highlights the BIG QUESTION we all struggle with – WHICH WAY DO I GO?

Lets examine them briefly.


A line of business application ( is there any other kind? ) drives transformation through vendor lock in ( or not ), platform upgrade due to support, widening access through a recent M&A or through a decision to buy a new application to meet a new business imperative


A level of service management is required that is not currently being delivered through poor service control, an increase in demand, a reassessment of service quality or a consolidation of service management across business units. Remember, Applications and service are intrinsically linked e.g. a service level on messaging or CRM applications.


A component of the underlying core infrastructure that is due for replacement because of natural replacement cycle, increased obsolescence due to external influences, security process review, lack of capacity and performance or business change through increased service delivery demands or consolidation of business units or through a M&A project. Again you see how infrastructure is intrinsically linked to Service and Applications.


Finally, the business has its say so on the cost of IT, the outcomes of IT and the business value provided by IT. These measurements will drill into applications, service and the cost of the infrastructure, but will ultimately end up with a view from the business on the importance of IT, This view may ultimately be the factor that dictates the direction taken on the journey.

What you have you learned? Possibly not much but I will leave you with this.

We are all at a crossroads, Sometimes it feels like we at the crossroad every day. Sometimes we don’t even know we are at the crossroad, but we definitely feel that we may have taken the wrong road!

All I advocate is that decision making has to embrace all of these roads, and be robust enough to aggregate the outcomes to help the BEST decision to be made. Note I say help, This is no magic wand !



1.0, 2.0 etc…it all adds up

So promise no more babies. Smile

If you add up all we know about computing recently– virtual, physical, cloud – and put them in the context of reality not fiction then I reckon the 10-20 year journey for people will go through a number of phases.

These phases can be different to different people but typically they include : developing skills, improving processes, aligning to costs, matching business expectations and so on. The point is that no one can expect to deploy any technology and reach the highest level of maturity from Day One ( or even Day 100).

The journey needs the blend of internal skills, partner skills, environment, business expectation and readiness, programme planning, performance measurement, system maintenance and migration from old to new.

So imagine a typical organization that perhaps started their journey towards a more mature and dynamic environment having a ‘journey map’ like below.


Just like versions of software this organization realised in the earlier days of Physical DataCenter in 2005 that virtualization was going to play an important part. So by 207, they had embarked on VIRTUALIZATIOB 1.0. They took some development servers and learned their skills without affecting production systems. As they moved into 2011 they had moved to a VIRTUALIZATION 2.0 state where they had moved over 60% of production workloads, retaining a small physical datacenter footprint. At this time they had also embarked on a PUBLIC CLOUD 1.0 strategy with specific workloads like CRM moving to a SaaS model.

I wont bore you with the rest but as you can see the journey continues with various iterations of ‘versions’ of VIRTUALIZATION, PRIVATE AND PUBLIC CLOUD. The conclusion? By 2030 this organization had NO physical servers and ran a HYBRID CLOUD of PRIVATE and PUBLIC services.

Does this organization exist?

I don’t know – I have never met one but I think it will become the way we look at our infrastructure when faced with the popular questions of today – “should we be in the cloud”, “how much should we be in the cloud” and “whose cloud should we be in”.

What is my point?, My point is that whilst we know it is a journey, we often forget to discuss what we want to see. Now what I am not showing you is the though processes that went behind the map above. Some of these processes will no doubt include Governance, risk and compliance (GRC), cost models, staff development, managed services, business change and so on, Yes it is not easy and for most people their own map will not be a nice chart on the wall, but an ad hoc reactive journey that resembles a balloon whizzing round the room !


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Identical Twins – Part 4

I wasn’t planning to do a Part 4, but I realised that the real truth behind identical data centers ( and twins) and the relevance to virtualization and Private Cloud still has some burn left on the candle – so to speak. As we all probably know by now,  with children you have little control over what they look like, sound like and how they eventually grow up – even if they start off as identical twins.

Datacentres however are a different thing, and if you are smart ( and have clever people with you ) then you can achieve your goals, aspirations and desires. Does private cloud have to be part of those goals? Maybe but not a mandatory requirement.

See it like having the choice of sending your children to private school or the state establishment. Do I want to spend £££ssss on private education with no guarantee that my offspring will run the country, or do I let the state give them the best education available within the means of the state education system?

I continue. Digging out the original definition of Private Cloud as described by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST),  I realised that anyone thinking about “do I stay with virtualization, or adopt a private cloud strategy’ should at least go through a decision tree to see if according to the official definition a business case for Private Cloud exists. The point is this simple question – “what do I want my datacenters to look like and do I need to change my strategy because of the business direction, goals and imperatives”.

So a glimpse of my thinking is below.


So the question takes one of the 5 core principles from NIST for Private Cloud definition, and applies a simple logic decision tree gate. The principle is that by asking these questions the responder can get a high level ‘do i need private cloud’ output, Of course I’m not suggesting this is all one has to do. Fare from it.

And I’m not pretending that this is the only way to assess the journey. Other areas that fall into the Private Cloud ‘should I shouldn’t I’ conundrum are;

  • Service and Support ( in house, outsource )
  • Costs ( People. Licensing, Environment   
  • Application Workloads e.g. dependency on other workloads ( for better or worse )
  • Service Catalogue ( what the application owner wants from the application )
  • Maturity of people managing the Private Cloud ( processes, controls, tools )
  • Training & Development of people managing the Private Cloud ( costs, subject matter expert )

All this needs adding up on one side of the page, and on the other side? You total up the value and cost of doing business for your infrastructure as a whole or your key application workloads. If the math makes sense ( cloudonomics ) then you have the possibility of a private cloud strategy. If they don’t add up however, then YOU DONT NEED PRIVATE CLOUD.


PS. If anyone wants my simple questions then let me know. If I know you then I will let you have them and I know a few of you who post on my blog so all is good Smile



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Identical Twins – Part 3

The story so far. Two  identical datacenters; two identical boys. Or are they?

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I’m sure the parents of the twin boys wonder how they will grow up. Will they always talk that way? Will they be identical in everything they do? When will they see different personas develop?  Will one have a messy bedroom, whilst the other one is fastidiously tidy? Will one be more dominant than the other? Will one be a writer, the other a politician? All the normal parenting thought processes.

Likewise I’m sure the CIO of the datacenters wondered how they will grow up. Will they always stay the way they were when first commissioned? Will they be identical in six months time? Will the operations be smooth running?

The similarities’ between two young twin boys and datacenters may not hit you in the face right away, but if you consider what both parent and CIO are seeking you may be able to see where I am coming from.

  • The parents wants their children to be successful, healthy and safe.
  • The CIO wans their datacenter to be successful, healthy and safe.

Outside of the environmental look and feel of seemingly identical data centres above, my point was to suggest that to many people – virtualization and private cloud – are one of the same thing. Do you agree? Do you care? Are you still sweating with getting virtualization to work? Can you spot a virtualized datacenter from a private cloud datacenter? You can? Good for you, because I cant unless i ask some questions first.

So now take a look at these two pictures.  Which one is the Virtualized Datacenter? No idea?

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Well let me suggest that the Virtualized DataCenter is the one on the left. You see the guy on the left thought that when he embarked on a virtualization strategy he would end up with a private cloud. Perhaps he didn’t use those words but I bet he positioned to his business that by virtualizing his datacenter he would turn the ado hoc heroic IT provision into a slick, optimized and cost effective IT as a Service. Oops. Sad smile

To be fair to him, virtualization said that ‘out of the box’ it would transform an IT environment. Come on guys. You believe that? Like  those parents thinking that those kids will just grow up normal without any parenting effort.

So the guy on the stool is scratching his head and muttering “I still have server sprawl”, “my service levels are shot”, “we still have downtime”, “my applications are out of control” and “my costs are higher than before”. Oh and he goes home and says “I’m going to lose my job”. The parent says things like “why are their rooms a mess”, “why do they cost so much”, “how can I make them work harder at school” and he goes home and says “I’m going mad”.

You see this is where the right hand side picture is so different. And I’m going to resist the urge to say its all about People and Process. Firstly because IT IS, and secondly, everyone says that. Yawn.

The true difference between the two pictures is that the right hand size picture depicts control, rigour, governance, maturity and process.  Of course, this doesn’t imply that you can only achieve this with Private Cloud. I drew up this image about 7 years ago, and was pretty much advocating the same principles but without the virtualization angle. However, the image portrays an element of automation and being FIT FOR PURPOSE. Remember these words ( as a parent and as a CIO).

Firstly, I am being dramatic. Over emotional. A bit crazy perhaps.

I know many virtualized datacenters that are well managed, under control and deliver exceptional IT service. I know many datacenters that have no virtualization yet are fit for purpose. These environments may never need to move to a Private Cloud delivery model because to their business they are already there. Remember these words – FIT FOR PURPOSE. Right? Well this is the context for this discussion. If my virtualized environment is fit for purpose today and in the future, then I,m OK.  Provided I can cope with demand, business change and manage costs to meet business requirement then I’m doing my job.

If however, my decision to virtualize has not got me where I want to be because I have the guys problem on the left , then I need to seriously examine where I am going, where the business wants me to go and how do I change how I deliver IT to make sure I still have a job. That is the right hand picture.

Private cloud offers the opportunity to take some of the ‘parenting issues’ away from the CIO, and put them into a different behaviour environment. Imagine those kids. Perhaps noisy, untidy and disruptive so the parents proactively and consciously take steps to develop their personal skills by bringing in outside help. You could call it managed hosting if you want. The two words Private and Cloud cover a wide range of concepts and services but the one overriding principle for me is that to have a vision of control, discipline, rigour, managed service, IT as a Service etc then you seriously need to ask “Can I do it myself” or “do I need someone to do it for me”.  Put another way. “Can I look after my kids alone” or “do I need to ask for help?”.

You see the problem with all the private cloud stuff is that it is ‘assumed’ that just because you have virtualized some servers, that you can migrate painlessly to a better place. Whoever believes this has not had kids I say! When a child is born no one thinks that all the hard work is over. Jesus – it has just begun, and the parents of those two cute twins must be well into developing processes, controls and disciplines to meet their goals.

My point is that people treat virtualization ( and no doubt private cloud  ) as something that can just find its own way in life. Unlike children though where this strategy can reap benefits ( they become famous, they develop incredible life skills, they are just plain old happy ), a datacenter cannot be given this freedom. And this is the problem with virtualization. Left alone it can become an annoying child that no one wants to babysit for!! 🙂

Thanks for sticking to the journey and if the twins and datacenter combo didn’t work for you then I apologize – but they were cute weren’t they! ( the two kids weren’t too bad either )

Have a great day as a parent and a CIO ( and if you are both then a special good luck from me)



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Identical Twins – Part 2

Remember this picture from Part 1? One is a virtualized datacenter; the other is a private cloud. Spot the difference?

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Now just watch this video. it lasts about 4 minutes, and I guarantee at the end of it you will understand the difference between Virtualization and Private Cloud. It will always make you laugh but when it finishes think about cloud computing will you? and then read Part 3 of this post when it comes out.

Part 3 is written and follows soon Smile

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