Monthly Archives: February 2012

Technology presumes there’s just one right way to do things and there never is – ROBERT M PIRSIG

Many organizations are benefiting from the cloud computing shift especially the ‘cloud channel’ if the awesome market predictions are anything to go along with. One analyst claimed recently that the market size for cloud computing was $40Billion but by 2020 it will grow to $241 Billion. Unimaginable numbers really and you could find conflicting mamoth figures on the net every day. One thing they have in common is that they get bigger. One often wonders how the analysts reach these gigantic projections. Of course we have seen this all before – Y2k predictions had the world facing doom and gloom and on similar scale we had predictions of technological and economic fortunes from ASP ( application service providers ) and .Net companies.  And who was it that made all these predictions? Well you cant identify them individually but effectively the ‘IT channel’ generate the numbers and the news but it often feels like its the technology itself that is making ever increasing presumptions that one day ( soon or in the distant future ) we will all be using ‘the cloud’.

Technology appears to send out signals through its human masters ( or is it slaves? ) that we are going to store all our data in someone elses datacenter or that we are going to access this data from any device and any place around the globe. Partially very true I must add. Technology also seems to say we  are going to pay only for what we use, and that we are going to be able to move from one cloud to the cloud seamlessly. It also  suggests strongly that we wont need to do what we used to use before – we can throw it away and buy cloud technology instead.

Of course cloud services do make these points totally achievable and i evidence this by something I encountered the other day when I saw services offering the capability to backup data from one cloud to the other. Cloud does work – very well indeed. People like Apple, Amazon and Google have nailed robust and extensible cloud services and are not going to disappear overnight like Y2k. Their success strongly counter the quotation from Pirsig. However, not for everyone. The long tail of cloud providers is eventually flawed as profit eventually calls the shots for guys who are desperately down in the weeds of niche services piggy backed on the tails of cloud masters who have sold them capacity at knock down tempting prices. 

Technology  sits there tempting us to invest in its brilliance and wowness. Cloud is full of ‘sexy’ technology and  its masters ( or slaves ) are spinning up new ways to innovate daily, or more accurately-  hourly.

 Public adverts at airports and train stations display effortless cloud imagery that feed the presumption that cloud is ‘the one right way to do things’. Children understand the word cloud. Listen to a child discuss cloud and you will think technology not only presumes there is only one way but that anything that contradicts their vision is for really old people.  TV talks about cloud though I do contend that the day  cloud is mentioned on soap operas then we can all pack up and retire. Picture it.Cloud being discussed in the Rovers Return or the Queen Vic. Emmerdale will never be the same if cloud is being discussed in the Woolpack ( is it still called that ?  )

Of course technology is a bit like medicine. Its a huge huge topic with hundreds of different directions, levels of maturity specialisms and unknowns. To brush stroke the discussion with simple statements like cloud is the only direction for technology in the future is disingenuous by people who ply their goods in the market place today. Naughty in fact and as time will tell no doubt probably quite dangerous if they cannot substaintiate their claims and see their contracts tested in courts of law.

One size fits all is not what cloud is about, and any presumption by technology and anyone else that cloud is the only way is nonsense. Good nonsense though!

( Quote attributed to Robert M Pirsig ( 1928)- is an American writer and philosopher, and author of the philosophical novels Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (1974) and Lila: An Inquiry into Morals (1991). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_M._Pirsig

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Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a ship – BEN FRANKLIN

A question for you? Does cloud remove all those little expenses that annoyingly crop up when you are managing an IT infrastructure?

Anyone involved in managing IT from a financial perspective will have arrived at the question – why does IT always have hidden costs? You know what I mean. The unexplained licensing upgrade for the flag ship infrastructure project. The extra storage needed because it was overlooked during design. The upgrade needed on all PCs to support the new application. The maintenance contract that expired last year but all the paperwork was lost and an extension is needed to protect an ageing server. The little expenses that become a small leak and make a nonsense of any controlled budgeting processes you attempt to enforce.

You had a vision that your Service Catalog illustrated all the costs associated with the key business applications.Neat, understood and managed costs that covered all direct and indirect expenditure with a proactive analysis and reporting engine that allows you each to plan cost reduction through strong control of all aspects of the Service Catalog. Too perfect for you?

Well yes it almost certainly is too true because it has dawned on you  that the perception of small costs were actually big costs, and the painful truth dawned that the cost of running applications and systems inhouse were eventually cost prohibitive.

Now I appreciate this is a massive overgeneralization and that IT finance planning is not a one size fits all function. But consider the IT organizations that drive a strategy of making IT an operational charge to business units. Now these guys are after making the business take responsibility for their IT by picking up the tab, and in return promise to deliver world class service desk and infrastructure support. Leaking boats for these guys is a painful place to be. I mean you cannot pass on ‘unmanaged costs’ to your customers.

Cloud computing is the new kid on the block. Costs seemingly fall into neat tidy service contracts where you have in black and white all the services you are paying for, the step up break points, the service credits you will receive if service doesnt meet SLA and all the exit costs incurred if you decide to exercise your rights. Cloud doesnt have all those little expenses that you used to find the IT teams pulling out of the woodwork.

However, let me give you a word of warning. If we were starting a new business today I reckon we could easily achieve a ‘fixed cost for IT’ return by purchasing cloud services.We wouldnt need any of the legacy IT stuff so we would find the best high street price and be a happy customer. Sadly this situation is all make believe. For those organizations ( all of them ) that have a hybrid cloud environment with mixes of on premise, cloud, hosted and legacy platforms, the risk of small costs sinking the ship loom very large indeed. Beware.

( Quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790 ) was an American inventor, journalist, printer, diplomat, and statesman.)

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The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one seventh of its bulk above the water – SIGMUND FREUD

80% of IT cost goes on standing still. Translated to mean the bulk of IT costs goes on keeping systems running and the rest goes on developing and innovating the IT infrastructure. This 80/20 phenomena has haunted many conversations over recent years’ as the channel has used great words like maturity and infrastructure optimization to influence a customer into buying their goods and services. Perhaps virtualization is the one topic that stands out the most as it sought to reduce this standing still cost through better management of data center operations ( power, space etc ). In fact, virtualization went a lot further and was seen as a way of consolidating IT operations in such a way that it gave a busines an edge.

Now what is interesting is that the people who pushed this 80/20 agenda have seemingly stopped using the same arguments to position cloud computing. Lets examine why. Well the discussion around cloud computing is based on a slightly different angle than the traditional data center optimization one. Cloud is all around and covers a huge range of different IT requirements that span numerous platforms and service components. Virtualization whilst still importance is now just a small part of the cloud fabric. The 80/20 conversation is old hat as a result.

Back in the heady days of buy and boom ‘virtualization’ sales pipelines and high margin deals the typical channel salesperson could leverage the  80/20 discussion quite successfully, listing all the IT things that would be improved or removed by buying into the virtualization story. People would wheel out – improve business continuity, reduce data center power consumption, reduce time to spin up new development environments, improve testing processes – and so on. People were convinced that virtualization would take them up a notch on the maturity curve from basic to standardised or further towards optimized. And on the whole it was true even if there isnt any verifiable data sets to confirm  that for those who invested in virtualization they are now more in a 70/30 situation. Of course those who deployed virtualization badly or failed to manage proactively may be in a 90/10 situation. Oops.

Now enter Sigmund Freud. For this man who studied psychoanalysis of the human mind and thought patterns would possibly liken the move to cloud in terms of icebergs! You see Freud may concur that one of the biggest challenges with cloud computing is not the fabric ( the virtualization and so on ) but the mind. Picture a bunch of IT cloud people in Freud’s consulting room. How would he translate conversations that start ‘cloud is all around and I think I need to move to the cloud but I cant understand why’ or ‘if i dont use cloud i will lose my job but no one can show me why i should do it’.

The mind that has to understand a whole bunch of new stuff that will influence their decisions. Let me explain.

I maintain that traditional IT people ( customers and suppliers ) are struggling with cloud computing. Skills are at a premium around cloud sourcing and all the inherent nooks and crannies. I think people are spending a lot of time looking at grand schemes for business transformation from cloud that span many years of strategic development,yet miss short term opportunities to ‘test the water’. People look to hybrid cloud computing as the ‘easy option’ to mould on premise platforms with private cloud services yet still find that the ‘iceberg’ is ever present with only a slither of knowledge, experience and war stories available to them. The bulk is stil hidden and so it will remain so for a lot longer than cloud vendors will lead them to believe.

One of the thorny challenges that is lurking below the water line is the process re-engineering required to move to the cloud. Manual practices in place at most organizations arent sufficient for the self-servicd vision of cloud. Application users will clamour for immediate resource availability that they hear is available. They will expect internal IT to respond but they cant. They lack mature system management software especially as they cant articulate the needs of their applications both packaged and bespoke developed. Oh and by the way the business cannot understand why the IT operations side of the business claims they dont understand cloud operations.

You see Freud is right. People think they know but deep down they are only talking about the ‘one seventh’ above the water. They know there is a lot more below but they dont know how to get started or identify the support they need. For some this mean their iceberg will float along aimlessly until it bumps into other icebergs ( or ships ). For others they will engage people who do know more of the cloud aspects below the water and be able to move on.

Freud was an expert on the unconscious mind and I often think that a lot of people in the ‘cloud business’ display such attributes. Until they can start thinking more consciously about what they want to see both short and long term their iceberg will still be bigger below the water!

 ( Quote attributed to Sigmund Freud ( 1856 –1939), was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigmund_Freud )

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When people are free to do as they please they usually imitate each other – ERIC HOFFER

What an impressive quotation in the context of cloud computing.

How often does an organization sit down and think about how their IT service is ‘imitating’ the vision of their new employee for the future. Does this imitiation fall short of the mark?

In our personal lives, if we see someone doing something quicker or smarter on their tablet device on the train for example, we immediately start dreaming for our own ‘slice of innovation’. Or we see a mobile device that has more features than our own ‘musty old thing’. Imitation is what we do. We are free to do so. And long may it last.

Cloud is the background that Generation Y live in. Generation Y is the generation of advancements in communication. Factors such as ease, convenience, and rapidity have become more important in marketplace exchanges, especially because Generation Y has grown up with being able to make purchases online.  Cloud computing has had a dramatic impact on this generation, always working towards improving those factors. Generation Y do not need to understand the benefits of cloud. They dont have the baggage that previous generations carry round with them. They want to progress quickly and their demands may be frustrating, but smart organizations are now facing them head on by turning their demands and expectations into opportunities for them to earn what they are asking for, which in turn will bring rewards for businesses in the future. Look at the Buy your own computer/device ( BYOC/BYOD )initiative that many companies are now introducing. Why? Well i think its because they have realised two things. (1) their employees are more efficient and ‘happy’ when given the opportunity to ‘imitate’ others by bringing their own ‘Mac’ into work, and (2) that managing the alternative locked down environment ,whilst honourable and ‘best practice’ is effectively impossible to do in a relatively cost effective manner.

Of course the security of this ‘free and imitate’ world is uppermost, and the concept of imitating someone else ‘just to make ones’ life easier at work’ does not sit well with Chief Security Officers, Security Committees and auditors. However, the world is moving quickly and the wave of optimism for accommodting this Generation Y community – some 25% of the global workforce –  is gaining momentum, and security people are having to ‘compromise’ to meet half way. This is why vendors such as Citrix and VMware are successfully meeting this demand with their pervasive ‘virtual box access’ from private devices.

Cloud computing, to this generation, holds tremendous potential, and is practically a no-brainer in terms of moving forward in the business world.  Cloud computing makes it possible people to interact with a software interface that only requires access to the Internet and a sufficient Web browser. This experience is ‘fitted’ into the pscyhi of the Generation Y comminity. It requires no “heavy-lifting” of the software or hardware, which means it is convenient for the Generation Y to exploit a multitude of devices. Since communication and staying connected is so easy due to the could computing infrastructure, users are able to connect with and meet more and more people. Again this suits their socio-technological world at home and at work. More and more organizations understand the need for ‘social presence’ using tools like Twitter, Facebook and cloud infrastructures for data storage and app self service. Why? Because they are following Hoffer’s quotation and allowing people more freedom to imitiate each other. And its not just corporate IT teams looking at this. Vendors and the whole channel in fact are displaying this ‘imitation’ characteristic.

Remember the thread of this blog has been to discuss the pros and cons of cloud, against a backdrop of quotations from people not directly related to cloud or technology , and how we position the conversations we are going to have with people interested in making a difference.Cloud is the canvass for Generation Y to achieve greater freedom and capability to imitate each other.

(Quote attributed to Eric Hoffer (1902 – 1983) was an American social writer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Hoffer )

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Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain – J.K. ROWLING

There is something quite satisfying about walking up and down aisles in a datacenter. Ever done it? Of course you will have. For some its like a special den. Somewhere to escape with your thoughts. All those flashing lights, the hum of millions of CPU cycles, the inherent mystery that surrounds what is happening on each flash and blink, and the rather uncomfortable feeling that you are being watched! ( you will be by the way ).

Inside this rarified and church like environment you will sense a undescribable sense of power. Billions and billions of 0s and 1s pulsating at nanosecond speeds, delivering real time information to screens and devices all over the world. Quite scary actually.

For the IT pro this is their escape from normal life. They probably struggle to describe the feelings and experiences they have had in their datacenter. Many will find friends looking strangely when they describe ‘what they did last weekend’. Some will prefer to deny they live this existence for fear of beign ostracised by their bricklaying chums.

If a survey was to be held of the ‘datacenter dwellers’ ( made this up and quite like it ), I bet that 8 out of 10 would reply to the question “do you trust your datacenter” with a sound affirming nod of their geeky head. Why? Because they own this datacenter. They architect and build the systems. They  store the configurations in their heads and know every nook and crannie. They know which server is troublesome, which rack has a creaky door and which tape drive sticks on a Saturday evening. They may have given their servers pet names. On top of this, they will document everything! Woe and betide anyone who dares questions their encylopedic brain of configuration management. 30 years ago this was the Computer Room or Data Room where the mainframe lived. The sense of history for these guys lives on – proudly.

Now if JK Rowling was indoctrinated into the world of datacenters, virtualization and cloud instead of Hogwarts, Voldemort and Quidditch, I am sure she would see the immediate risk of trusting something that thinks for itself. She would liken the cloud model ,that we all look up to know as the future, as the brain we cannot see and therefore, something not to be trusted.She would liken the automation, the provisioning, the self-service, the orchestration and seemingly robotic nature of cloud IT services as being an evil deadly thing, and something that needs to be zapped by Harry and co. By the way the likeness of cloud computing to the chronicles of Harry, Ron and Harmione is a deeply worrying one! ( for me ).

Seriously though I believe the comparison between the datacenter that you can touch and feel and the cloud computer you cant is a valid one. The reliance and trust on the IT pro to be let loose in the datacenter down the corridor to save the day is a comfortable one for many generations of business stakeholders. In small and large organizations alike. They have this belief that even though IT is a bit of barrier to doing business and costs a lot, the guys have been there for decades and they have never let us down before.

This generation debate is hotting up however. New generations of business stakeholders have no allegience to the old days and have no issue with the ‘brain’ being somewhere they cant actually touch it. These people have ‘the nerve’, ‘the risk approach’ and the ‘get it done attitude’ to overcome any natural aversion to trusting something that can think for itself.

If I may close by attempting to rewrite the great lady’s quotation  it would go something like this “Never trust anything that can think for itself unless you have a good idea of what you expect when its finished its work’.

( Quote attributed to J.K Rowling OBE ( 1965-)  is a British novelist, best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series)

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The secret of business is to know something that no one else does – ONASSIS

Let me tell you a secret about cloud. There isnt one.  No way!

In the odd spare moment I follow loosely the workings of NIST or the National Institute of Standards & Technology ( http://www.nist.gov/itl/cloud/index.cfm ).  This pivotal standards body in the US is charged with developing the cloud definitions, taxonomy and laying down the high level common layer specifications for cloud computing. It is NIST who laid down the types of cloud computing model and services ( Public, Private, Saas, IaaS etc ) and is a collaboration between hundreds of like minded technology professionals across public and private sectors around the globe.

I follow them because Im both personally intrigued on how cloud is being ‘structured’ for real, but also to learn some of the challenges the industry has overcome and has yet to overcome. Cloud is not easy let me tell you, but the NIST guys are plugging away at a mountain of issues and opportunities as they held us build the paradigm shift that we talk glibly about in our conversations every day. What really strikes me with the NIST community is that there are few secrets. People collaborate across the world from different companies ( who are competitors in anyother light ) and share ideas, comments and work together to define standards together. Of course they do this becuse they know that the days of proprietary standards in computing were a huge negative and a barrier to collaboration and overall IT functionality. Minutes and documents fly between people containing suggestions, comments and ideas covering hundreds of cloud ‘aspects’ i.e. reference architectures, security concerns, lessons learned and so on.

Now roll this all up to a business situation, and let your imagination consider such close collaboration between your business competitors? Unlikely of course, and not a good career move. Now add cloud computing and business together. What do we have? We have firstly something that everyone can supply, install, manage in a very open community environment ( open cloud standards ), and secondly something else consisting of  business advantage and unique selling propositions ( business secrets ) . How would Onassis have coped with this?

Im sure Onassis would ponder and accurately articulate that cloud seems to be  only a means to an end ( not a secret )  and that we have had this situation before ( mainframe, client server, internet, web )  . Specifically we all now know that there are few secrets in mobile telecoms. Fewer still  in operating systems and applications.None left in printing sure. Ditto backup and virtualization. Ditto web development. The cupboard is probably quite bare. Look at how many patents are owned by the big guys. They own them to stop anyone else developing an edge but really?

No Onassis would contend that it is business that needs to hold the secrets, not IT departments pushing cloud buttons all over the place. Cloud has to purely be a player in the bigger game of business transformation. Of course in certain market places cloud can be a big game changer. I suspect in third world developing countries where the technology boom has made more impact than anywhere else, cloud is probably leveraging considerable business advantage. But here again cloud is not the secret – it is what organizations are doing to create services that contain the secrets. However, any window of exclusivity because you have a unique idea is going to be ridicously limited. I spoke before about the long tail. Imagine how many companies large and small claim to have something unique. Hundreds and to ‘qualify’ as a cloud vendor means they just need to sell their product once yet outwardly appear to be a serious player. The power of image and bluff!!

I reckon the secrets rest somewhere else. Not in the cloud infrastructure nor the marketing or branding. But in the ability to work with people to earn their trust and confidence to invest in what you are selling. Holding conversations that are not afraid of talking about business goals and aspirations whilst mapping to cloud services and the like. Now this is a secret worth having! All the methodologies in the world cannot prepare one for such engagements and it is the skill of the consultant that gives you ‘something that no one else does’. IMHO.

( Quotation attributed to Aristotle Onassis  ( 1906 –  1975), was a prominent Greek shipping magnate.      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle_Onassis )

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Don’t confuse the art of the possible with the art of the profitable – DAVID TANSLEY

What can you not achieve in this day and age? Technology abounds us everywhere, and just when you say ‘if only I could do this’ that you find that you actually can do that thing! Technological revolutions, evolutions, paradigm shifts are as common as the cold. Moores Law doesnt look like slowing down any day soon, and the creativity of the industry is thirsting to produce even more amazing and ‘wow factor’ products for us to own. Furthermore the blur between corporate and private life is becoming more acute, and the promise of Gen Y employees ‘demanding their own IT’ as a condition of service is seemingly holding true.

So it is against this backdrop that Mr Tansley’s quote caught my eye. Technology is most definately the ‘art of the possible’. It didnt use to be many decades ago as we struggled to get simple things like computers to perform simple tasks and to actually connect to each other. No that was not ‘the art of the possible’ – more like the ‘the art of the impossible’. But all that is gone now. Connectivity to the super highway is guaranteed and is now seen as a human right in certain parts of the world.

Demonstrating possibility with technology is not what this post is about. It is the second part of the quotation that interests me. Tansley talks about the ‘art of the profitable’. Of course there are a few people making billions and billions out of the technology world. Cloud computing will be one of the assets in their portfolio. But these guys were at this a long long time ago so they are simply reaping their rewards for investment in communications, data center networks and footprint around the world ( Microsoft, Google, Apple, IBM etc ) .

Working the way down though it is intriguing ( to me at least ) to see what the ‘profit’  we talk about actually is. Big players have volume and reach. They can sell cheap and stack them high. This model works. Niche cloud players will also be making money as they have something no one else has ( for now ). SO it could be a brand of software or managed service that has traction in the market they play in. They will be limited in terms of growth but I suspect they know this. But what about profit in terms of benefit to the person or persons using the cloud service sold for a good price on the high street. Do people going to £ shops or bazaars feel like they value? Do they profit from their purchases? For sure the retailers must be profiting hugely.

So I argue that now that we are in the ‘art of the possible’ with cloud computing ( just like we are with high street £ shops and bazaars, the definition of profit is going to be very interesting. Whether it is the vendor or channel organization building cloud services knowing that they are in a long tail market place with every tom dick and harry doing the same thing, or the individual who knows ‘I get what I pay for’ e , the art of the profitable is going to be an interesting debate to be over the coming decades.

It comes down to whether you can one ( possible ) without the other ( profitable ) and you most certainly can. I wont drill into the types of cloud services that fall into this – as there are too many! – but I will end with a personal view that I think Tansley nails it.

To close, I read somewhere that ‘confused customers dont buy’ and I reiterate that to myself every time I read a cloud brochure or white paper. I think in our attempts to sell our wares we are confusing our customers by promoting the ‘art of the possible’ with the ‘art of the profitable’. Remember the era of ASP and .NET boom?

I hope we arent headed the same way.

( Quotation attributed to David Tansley )

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Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way – GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON

Not a sentinment often heard in the corridors of an IT department! However, I think it is beginning to creak through. More and more CIOs are becoming business stakeholders in their own right. In fact this has been happening for a long long time. A paradigm shift of CIO leadership has been occurring for many years now, and I often think that ‘cloud’ was the event that was meant to happen as a way of demonstrating the General Patton war cry.

We all know the arguments for cloud but do we understand the people charged with making the decisions? All CIOs are built from the same cloth. They all display the same sharp eyed analysis and do not suffer fools gladly. We have all heard the myths about the ‘CIO in the end corridor office’, and how you are lucky to escape from a 30 minute conversation unscathed. The metaphor of ‘ look out for the plastic sheet’ rings true for many of us.

But is this really the case? The CIO is a catch all for many different types of roles and functions. In the good old days you could probably describe the role of the CIO pretty accurately without really knowing the organization involved. They were not even given the CIO title. They were likely to be Systems Manager, Operational Manager or similar. The concept of ‘ Information Officer’ was not something related to business intelligence, strategy alignment, business change and transformation. No. The custodians of IT were the back office guys who produced the ‘data’. It wasnt their job to interprete the information and liaise with the business. No way.

At this juncture I want to point out a great great book worth a read is ‘The New CIO Leader: Setting the Agenda and Delivering Results by Broadbent and Kitzen, which goes through 10 key characteristics of the CIO;

1) Lead — get out in front of issues, creating solutions and contributing to the business.
2) Understand your environment — as this sets the context for success and contribution
3) Create your vision — have a view on the future and how you will realize it.
4) Shape and inform expectations — they are the criteria by which results are really measured.
5) Create clear IT governance — the way you make decisions determines the way you will create value
6) Weave together business and IT strategy — the two must become one and build on each other
7) Build a new IS organizations — one that recognizes the realities of sourcing and new technologies.
8) Build high performing IT teams — they are the ones that deliver the results, you cannot do it alone for long
9) Manage IT risks — these are increasingly business risks
10) Communicate performance — measure where you are, what you’ve done and don’t keep it a secret.

I wont spoil your reading but one thing that is crystal clear. The CIO has to lead. This is obvious of course, but cloud makes this a little ‘cloudy’ ( excuse the pun ) given the fact that for the first ever, the engagement of the business is more important than ever before if cloud is seen as the transformational technology lever to business survival and recovery. So the CIO has to lead, but also has to be slick and sharp at collaborating with others across the enterprise. A CIO that puts cloud into a silo as a logical upgrade to on premise applications,workloads and data centerrs  is probably not going to survive. Not because of doing something wrong, but because they got in the way. On the flip, a CIO that invests the time in understanding the future for the business and doing all the ‘mapping’  , ‘weaving’, and  ‘aligning’ that analysts tell them they have to do will be a firm favourite of the CEO. But talk is cheap as Patton would have recognised. He not only said the words but followed them through.

Many will argue the CIO is the CEO of the future. Patton may have like CIOs that thought like this. He wanted decision makers otherwise he wanted them to stand aside. The cloud debate is going to see many CIOs standing aside unless they get better at engaging. So what does this mean? Well it means that if you are in the employ or service of a CIO then this applies to you too! And whilst you may not ever achive CIO status you most certainly can become part of the ‘CIO office’ demonstrating the Patton philosophy. Take time to listen to the CIO and try and understand whether he is ‘doing a Patton on you’ and demanding you to follow him ( or get out of the way if you dont want ).

( Quote attributed to General S Patton (1885-1945) was a United States Army officer best known for his leadership while commanding corps and armies as a general during World War II. He was also well known for his eccentricity and controversial outspokenness http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_S._Patton )

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Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I’ll remember. Involve me and I’ll understand. – CONFUCIOUS

What a smart guy, that Confucious fella was. To come up with such an amazing quotation that typifies the cloud conversation that is happening across our industry.

Let me try and put the context on the quotation before you.

Cloud is on everyones lips. Everyone is talking about it. Everyone thinks they know what cloud is. But I dont see it that way. I can tell people about cloud and a lot of us are doing this. Look at the press. Look at vendors. Look at channel people. Look at internal IT departments. They are all banging on about cloud. They are either for it or against it. The problem? The people they are telling just forget what the key points are. They are bombarded with facts and figures. Business case arguments. TCO calculations. Financial projections. Power savings. People savings. The whole shooting match. Yet despire all this they forget what the real value is.

So lets go Show them. Cloud is all around. We all use it. So this should nail the deal. After all the CEO uses cloud on his/her iPhone or Android device. They swear by the value they get and how important it is that they are on line 24×7. Showing them the power of cloud is easy. Whether it s demos, customer references, proof of concepts, videos, presentations or pilots the stakeholders are bombarded with practical ways to demystify the cloud discussion. Yet again even with all the ‘cloud evidence’ the CXO community who need to make the decision can only remember what they have seen but are unable to put it into context for their business. After all, they need cold facts. You know – those sort of facts that stack up in front of shareholders and executive committees. The sort of cold facts that come with guarantees. The sort of facts that have direct business value attached to them. The facts that cry out ‘if you dont do this you are losing competitive edge and market share”. The whole shooting match.

Confucious nails it then when he says the only way to really get the conversation understood is to involve the person you are working with. For cloud this means planning the cloud conversation. Combining all the points above into a strategy is a big part of course, but the most important aspect is the envisioning of what the business is doing to sustain growth and develop new opportunities, and how cloud is part of this strategy. Why? The CXO isnt daft. He knows what cloud can do but what he doesnt know is exactly how all this wonderful stuff is going to make him more successful. He has a level of distrust or uncertainty because in his eyes he has seen this before. He remembers ASP right! So the key takeaway is to work on the involvement strategy. Think of how you are really getting the CXO into the conversation. I suspect relying on white papers and presentations may  fall short. Ask yourself this? Are you putting enough skin in the game? Are you helping the CXO with the big challegnes your cloud conversation is presenting? Dont just assume the CXO is getting it.  Get them into the conversation early, and make sure they know they need you to be part of the decision making process, whilst at the same time making it clear that they own the final decision.

( Quote attributed to Confucious 551BC – 479BC ) was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher of the Spring and Autumn Period http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucius )

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Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication – LEONARDO DA VINCI

For years’ IT pros would draw the ‘interconnect’, the ‘glue’, the ‘network’ that joined offices and countries together with an image of a cloud. We all did it. We did it without really thinking. It was quick and ‘the standard image’. Software vendors produced us icons and images to download to make our network diagrams and presentations look impressive. ( in a quiet moment you might ponder whether it was the action of these images that gave us the new paradigm shift of cloud computing. )

We were painters. We visualised and demonstrated our art to convey our message. And what a great message! People got the art we were producing. It was simple and elegant. I mean a fluffy cloud with some squiggles and numbers easily showed a business stakeholder the problem they faced with performance or network resilience. For many these diagrams were permanent images on IT whiteboards or in CIO offices. Some of us liked creating exceptionally complicated cloud artwork, as we strove to demonstrate (1) that we remembered all the lines and numbers (2) that our network was more complex than yours and (3) that we were indispensable to the organization we worked. But the most important reason why we liked drawing fluffy clouds on whiteboards was because we took something very complicated like our networks, and made them look simply yet sophisticated.

Now we are in the real cloud era, where these drawings have now become commercialised beyond belief, it is worthwhile to remind ourselves that we have ourselves to blame to a point, as marketeers, vendors and analysts have made the whole cloud journey appear so elegant, simple and effectively, a no brainer decision. Deep down there is a lot of complexity in the technical nooks and crannies of a cloud infrastructure, and Leonardo would have struggled to see the simplicity he spoke about. Picasso may have preferred cloud architectures! However, it is the vision of cloud computing, with simple lines, effortless interaction between devices and people, access from anywhere and affordable price that is going to become the sophistication that LDV possibly would have seen if he were talking about cloud computing!

 ( Quotation attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 – 1519) was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor architect musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_vinci)

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