Monthly Archives: June 2011

No one will get fired for choosing cloud

What did they use to say – “No one got fired for choosing IBM”? – Well i think we can now say “ “No one will get fired for going into the cloud ( provided they can demonstrate their rationale and business alignment to support the decision”.

Now take a look at this little picture I threw up to justify the last part of the previous sentence.

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The timeline for cloud is a bit – uh hum – CLOUDY. People will predict dates for when Cloud will explode and dramatically transform our lives. I quoted in an earlier blog about the scale that some analysts talk about when describing the cloud industry expansion i.e. $55Billion to be earned from selling cloud services by 2014.

Whatever you believe ( or not ) the road to cloud is not magic nor paved with gold. it is littered with traditional consulting, engineering, service management and business challenges. This is how it should be as well. There is no ‘drag and drop’ for cloud – yet! ( ok there is a few little bits that let you move workloads around but its not seamless IMHO).

So when we look right down the road to perfection ( IT that works, most of the time, at a fair price and that makes a difference to our business performance ), we should see a number of stages that our thought processes will go through.

Of course this post isn’t new or original  but I find it helps to think of this long long road as a number of stop off points. This sort of makes the whole conversation manageable and easy ( easier to understand ) .

For background let me say this.

We have all moved away from Physical Datacenters. By now most of us will have consolidated some or all of our legacy datacenter infrastructure towards a Virtual Datacenter strategy. I guess that’s where most of us have got to. A natural evolution of computing platforms.

But did we achieve what we wanted and did we get left with things we didn’t want? So my little table tries to explain the roadmap image above.

What We Got What We Didn’t Want
PHYSICAL Too many servers
Bloated networks
Poor management
Too much complexity
Too many Admins
Inefficient use of hardware
Downtime
Failed backups
Silos
No business continuity
High costs for kit not doing much
High power bills
Low service improvements
Lots of IT admins
Backup issues
High risk of downtime
Expensive DR costs
Spiralling storage
Overprovisioning costs too high
VIRTUAL Fewer physical servers
Consolidated storage
Better backup management
Better power saving
Better availability
Server sprawl ( VMs )
Still got a lot of physical estate
Migration pain
Still downtime
Too many tools to manage
Still too many IT admins
Too many dependencies
Business continuity was expensive
Higher TCO than originally thought
Still paying for overprovisioning
OPTIMIZED Fewer servers ( less sprawl )
More service monitoring
Better tools – health, capacity
Proactive management
Lower costs
Still downtime
Still got a lot of physical estate
Too many tools to manage
Still too many IT admins
Refresh cycle caused disruption
Still paying for overprovisioning
MANAGED No servers to manage
No staff costs
Lower power bills
Service levels
Service Management
DR & HA
Performance ‘spikes’
Refresh costs – CAPEX still an issue
Still paying for overprovisioning
Still have to manage on premise resources
PRIVATE Self service portal
A bill for what you use
No overprovisioning
On demand capacity
Hybrid management of on premise & hosted resources
SLA tied into business strategy
To own the equipment
Still downtime
To pay for refresh cycles
To still think about licensing
PUBLIC Lowest cost
Full cloud ‘compliant’ – 5 ticks on the cloud characteristics
to lose data
still downtime
to have data sovereignty concerns
to have to backup data for DR

I deliberately kept Hybrid Cloud out of my little table above but choose to show it in the diagram as I believe for most, the future ( next 5 years ) will be a mix of all the above. Decisions will be made on business risk, cost, accessibility, interoperability and service outcomes, and these will fashion the choices we will make as to where to ‘place’ our business applications.

I meet people who like to talk about one flavour or type of cloud. They may be right of course when talking about specific business applications like email, but even then, the complexity and bonding of such applications into the fabric of an organization makes even a straightforward cloud discussion suddenly a lot more complex.

My advice? Keep an open road ahead, and be prepared to discuss, debate, assess, validate and consider ALL the options for business workloads.

 

take care

 

Smile

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Form a queue please – Wer’e British

We British like to queue. Now imagine a list of your critical applications.

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Now imagine these applications or workloads standing in line for the proverbial ‘Cloud Bus’. Are you imagining this?

Now place in order of relevance, suitability, feasibility the workloads you think should be at the front of this queue, in the middle of the queue and at the back of the queue, or shouldn’t even be thinking of getting any cloud bus any day soon – so basically totally unsuitable.

Now being British there is no queue jumping. We are so awfully polite that we respect the queue and will respect the people in front of us. However, again because we are British, we will let someone go past us if they have  more deserving cause to get on the bus ahead of us. Its what makes us Great – right?

In the world of cloud applications therefore, this queue jumping is very prevalent as specific market places seek to find a way to ‘queue jump’ into the cloud as a way of matching a specific business requirement i.e. a merger, legislation, cost, speed, globalization and dependencies on other workloads. Unlike  a bus queue though, this idea of jumping the queue can be dangerous as it may suggest cutting corners, taking risks and not giving the right level of due diligence to the options.

For some applications though, there is no place in the queue right now. This is probably because of a factor that prevents the application even being considered for entry into the queue such as a merger, security, legislation, cost, speed, globalization and dependencies on other workloads. This isn’t saying that the queue will never be open to them, but it may point to a different type of queue. Now what I mean? A Public ‘Cloud’ Queue and a Private ‘Cloud’ Queue. Got it now?

Oh and I didn’t make a typo – the reasons for and against ‘cloud queue jumping’ are the same.

Of course, hanging back at the end of the queue may be a problem too, as the risk of missing the cloud bus is a very real one, and the meek and overly cautious may rue the day they didn’t try and push forward down the queue.

Oh and one final thing. Do you think there is actually TWO QUEUES for the Cloud Bus? So I mean an INFRASTRUCTURE QUEUE and a BUSINESS WORKLOAD QUEUE. I have blogged this before – see https://brummieruss.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/whats-on-your-strategy-blackboard/.

I personally think there is two queues , and the challenge is to blend these queues appropriately and keep them apart as appropriate. Consider it like a night cloud bouncer with a VIP queue and a Joe Public queue. When you do let people come into different queues depending on the circumstances? Good analogy? Bad One? How about a Private Cloud queue and a Public Cloud queue?

So I think I have exhausted the metaphors.

Smile

Capability matters more than Maturity

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You are a marathon runner. You are a good one as well. You tend to finish ahead of the rest of the field. What attribute would you say matters the most to you? Your Maturity or Your Capability.

You could think Maturity – meaning you use your extensive years’ of experience of road conditions body conditioning, the weather, the terrain and so on to ensure you can finish the race ahead of the rest.

Or you could think Capability – meaning you combine your Maturity attribute with drive and determination, willingness to succeed, hatred of failure, stamina and so on to ensure you win the race.

Now think about the our IT world. The Maturity and Capability words take on new meanings when applied to infrastructure, people process and technology.

We often talk about Mature technology, which typically describes a product or software that has been in use for long enough that most of its initial problems have been fixed. Conversely, we talk about mature processes for testing, development, managing infrastructure or software development projects. Indeed, there are extensive maturity models out there that help define where you are currently on the journey to maturity within technology. There is a ‘industry perception’ that the more mature your IT infrastructure and systems are, then the more ‘successful the overall organization will be’. I tend to agree, as it will typically depict that the culture of said organization lends itself to focus on repetitive processes, discipline around IT functions, governance and compliance to strict controls and procedures.

On the flip side we also talk a lot about Capability which being blunt is an individual or corporate’s ability to perform actions that meet the desired effect. So a footballer who scores every game has a very high degree of capability. A  CIO that annually cuts IT budgets to meet business directives may be seen as a very capable CIO.

So now apply your understanding and experiences to cloud. Which one out of Maturity and Capability are you going to need more of in this particular race to the  metaphorical finishing line?

As a Customer so if you have agreed to move your computing needs into someone else’s datacenter to be feed and watered, or to receive a utility IT service like Software As A Service (SaaS) then I would say you will probably need Maturity more than Capability. I mean the Supplier needs to have both Maturity and Capability, but as the customer you will need to have a mature understanding of survive levels, reporting, billing and so forth to make sure you are getting the service you expected and that the impact id proactive to your business.

As a Supplier – so if you are a supplier of cloud services such as managed hosting, virtualization, cloud services and so on then you are going to need in ample amounts both Maturity and Capability. Your processes, governance and monitoring will have to be significantly mature to ensure repeatable, predictable and safe operations. Likewise you will need the capability to work proactively to ensure this is delivered to the service commissioned by the customer. This capability will need to embrace your skills development of people, your investment in the cloud infrastructure, the vendors you partner with and so on.

Now I’m not suggesting anything radical or unsurprising here but to me Capability is the stronger of the two words, with maturity just being one aspect of Capability. Let me explain. I can have all the processes, controls and disciplines in the world that demonstrate the highest level of maturity, but can still fail to deliver a good level of IT service. Why? Because I lack true capability. I have focused too much on the maturity side that I have strangled the innovation and development aspect that gives that competitive edge. This may be as a result of many good reasons and factors but I bet that the ‘most successful companies’ are both Mature and Capable, and have buckets of Capability throughout their ethos and culture.

In summary wouldn’t it be cool to be asked in a tender or a meeting to describe ‘your approach to maturity and capability’Smile There would be some very interesting responses I’m sure.

Brummie.

What’s on your ‘strategy’ blackboard? – Part 2

As always I had some interesting feedback and one conversation in particular, got me to produce the next part of this thread.

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Yes – I think the blackboard can also be used as a reminder of what we all need to do….UNDERSTAND THE CONVERSATION.

You see we are all very good at talking about IT. I mean come on. We are experts. Some of us are actually paid to talk about IT as well. However, and its a big however, the conversation we used to have is changing.

The Part One post focused on the ARROW between a Infrastructure conversation and a business one. The theory ( or practice ) is that the business conversation is now holding all the cards, and is being used to drive the infrastructure conversation. Can we remember when they were totally separate, and the business didn’t really care about anything IT decisions?

Now I maintain the majority of us don’t get the need to have a different conversation, and that until we can span both the infrastructure and business sides of the ‘strategy arrow’ we run the risk of missing something really important. And I don’t mean something technical nor business with a small B. No i mean something massive like how an organization is changing its reliance on technology and how they see technology making them more agile and competitive.

Oh Brummie we know this.

Well I’m glad you do because in my humble experience very few people can truly UNDERSTAND THE CONVERSATION. Because its a team effort and not the exclusive property of any one individual.

Got to go….Got 100 lines to do before Tea Smile

How much for employee efficiency? 2%…is that all?

In 1971 in Switzerland, a body was formed aimed at improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. The World Economic Forum was a not for profit foundation, based in Geneva, and is tied to no political, partisan or national interest.

So you can imagine my interest in a recent report they have commissioned entitled – Advancing Cloud Computing: What do do know? Priorities for Industry and Governments – written in conjunction with some leading technology companies and consulting practices.

Firstly, I would recommend you read it. Secondly, to whet your appetite and to help me with a startling revelation from the Executive Summary, which contains a snapshot of ‘Cloud by the numbers’, that highlights some very interesting ‘economics’.

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Did you see what I discovered?

No? Well despite all the positive ( and consistent with all other analyst and market place data ) statistics only 2.1% employee efficiency will be as a result of cloud strategy for these global companies and governments. Note that these statistics come from a wide range of reputable sources, so therefore worthy of more than a glance I feel.

So I say out load – “Hello…this doesn’t seem a good return for all this investment surely?” Sad smile

I mean after all this dramatic business agile, business transformed and business innovated technology wave, the actual improvement in employee efficiency is so small that a cynic ( not me ) could say ‘what’s all the fuss about’.

Now as always there are doses of salt to take a pinch of but lets examine equivalent technological advancements like cloud computing, and the net result impact on employee productivity. Here we go.

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Wow. Really? Well the source for this is ME! But you get the the meaning. So how do all the recent big technological moments improve employee efficiency? So I have marked Cloud down as one of the lowest. Contentious? Possibly. But think about it.

If all the debate, the angst, the heart  ache and ultimately, financial investment on a grand scale into cloud computing ends up with such a perceived low employee efficiency gain, then why are people doing it? Remember there is some tongue in check going on, but it is a big point I’m trying to make.

When people think about the benefits of cloud, how often do they list the improvement in employee efficiency? Interesting because I don’t see it that often, and in most cases, the reasons for cloud are left to the classic ‘business agility’, ‘creating new markets’,’lower cost of IT service’ and similar.

Is it because there is a unwritten assumption that cloud will automatically improve employee efficiency and even if it doesn’t, then who cares, because it ticks all the other business and economic benefits? Perhaps this is all very contentious but all part of life’s great learning of how to have a conversation about cloud computing.

I await the flood of comments Smile

Brummie.

What’s on your ‘strategy’ blackboard?

People often talk about strategy because its such a powerful word and has deep meaning and suggests structure and foresight. Of course it should. However, in the eyes of a CIO it can mean wildly different things.

Imagine a CIO who is a Board member. His function will be immersed in the business function. He will be charged with subjects like ‘business agility, mergers,market penetration,  business transformation, business intelligence and business process management’. These are the things that will ‘keep him awake’.

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Now imagine a CIO who is not a Board member. She will report to the CFO more than likely, and will have an agenda focused on “reducing CAPEX, consolidating contracts, driving up service desk quality, optimizing datacenters, security VPNs, storage for CRM and business continuity”.

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Privately there are a lot of CIOs who are challenged with doing both, but quite often there are two ‘blackboard agenda’s’ and knowing which one your CIO is on is a big big deal. Why? Well behind ‘every good blackboard, there is a strategy’, and as the blackboard below shows, knowing where the arrows are going can be a very very big deal indeed.

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Now I’m not saying that the words on the blackboard are gospel. Just ideas.I could fill tens and tens of blackboards with strategy options and ideas.  Nor am I saying that there are only two types of CIO, and that a CIO in a given week has to do all these things. No. What I am saying is that there are ARROWS. These arrows are probably very subliminal and hidden away in the CIOs’ grey matter, but unless you can unlock where these arrows are pointed, then you will always be ready with the duster to rethink the strategy over and over again.

Want some background on different types of CIO? Well then I totally recommend you pull down this book or at least take a look at “The New CIO Leader” – by Broadbent and Kitzis.

http://www.amazon.com/New-CIO-Leader-Setting-Delivering/dp/1591395771

Oh one final thing.

I didn’t mention cloud – not once!!!

brummie,

Smile

What do you see? – Part Two

I had so many great comments following the car park barrier post that I had to put this picture up to sort of underline the whole ‘follow the business process’ – yeah right! Well not in the case of this car park – clearly.

 

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Perhaps a study of car parks is the way to understand cloud computing adoption. Smile LOL

 

have a good Saturday

What do you see?

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Discuss tomorrow.

Smile

A bench mark

Bench marks. Or more accurately Benchmarking.

 

bench

 

Wikipedia summarises benchmarking as……

The term benchmarking was first used by cobblers to measure people’s feet for shoes. They would place someone’s foot on a “bench” and mark it out to make the pattern for the shoes. Benchmarking is used to measure performance using a specific indicator (cost per unit of measure, productivity per unit of measure, cycle time of x per unit of measure or defects per unit of measure) resulting in a metric of performance that is then compared to others

In our (unique? )industry however, the word benchmarking is often a mysterious phrase, often muttered during debrief sessions on projects that failed to deliver the anticipated business value.

I have often see people talk about ‘benchmarking; in a glib and throw away conversations, as if there solution is ‘above’ any requirement to take due diligence seriously.Quite often you hear ‘well this solution is really best practice in the industry’ or ‘read the manufacturers’ tech spec document for performance data’.

Oh? The problem of course is that to the business stakeholder these generic throw away comments too often do not relate directly to their business and how the solution will actually meet business expectations. This is further compounded when you consider cloud solutions where the wealth of generic ‘cloud can work’ data is overwhelming but ultimately, pretty useless.

The ‘bench’ – an analogy for your strategy – needs to have appropriate ‘marks’. These marks can be milestones for evolution and understanding of how your particular solution or service is operating against specific business objectives. So it may be very procedural or performance weighted e.g.the solution must be completed in XYZ or the end user experience must be ABC.

To assist the business case therefore, the benchmarking process is key. Nothing accelerates a business case and therefore business acceptance of a proposal more than if there is some reference to a valid and credible external validation of the solution on the table. This may require some investment in this external benchmarking e.g. you may have to pay for someone to benchmark your service against the market place or you may have to direct people to ‘trusted sources who can validate that what you say your solution purports it can do, can actually performs that way.

So why am I saying all this. Well cloud computing needs marks on the metaphorical bench.

Imagine the bench is actually your strategy or journey to better IT service. If you are smart you will realise that this is an evolutionary process and that ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. So you will have to measure something wont you? Sure you can measure costs ( hopefully anyway provided you understand what costs are today ) and you can try to measure user satisfaction, but how do you measure performance. Tough one because cloud is changing the battlefield and potentially there are more ‘dark spots’ in the cloud experience that you have no influence over.

So as you develop your rationale for cloud decision making, I strongly recommend you put in there somewhere the following question – “what benchmarking is available that supports the cloud direction I am headed?”. This may open up a veritable can of worms, but it may help you demonstrate true due diligence and may save you both time and heart ache as you try and position your solutions and services to key stakeholders. By proactively demonstrating ‘acknowledgement’ of benchmarking ( whether there is any or that you will work with your customer to produce a benchmarking plan ) will put you in good stead compared to people who ignore this angle.

Remember these stakeholders “To get me to sit on the bench and not the fence Smile, you need to demonstrate to me that your solution has relevance and validation for my business and not some unattributable generic statement thrown in at the last moment”.

Sorry but this means you have to work a little harder at making sure all your hard work is NOT undone by throw away comments such as “8 out of 10 people who do this are more successful than those you don’t” or “our solution will successfully meet business goals”. The list goes on.

Good luck today.

Brummie.