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The Illiterate of the 21st Century

"How are you defining your strategy?"

“How are you defining your strategy?”

“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, un learn and relearn”

I am guilty of this as much as anyone else, in my role we constantly learn new technology, derive that it is the best technology in the world and that it can change everything and then a new shiny object comes along and the focus switches. Throwing technology at an issue or opportunity fills a hole but does it drive a strategy? I would argue no, the IT world has been fed the word “Cloud” now for years and now everyone is on board with cloud and accepts this as a technology and a viable way that the world of IT is heading, most are now looking to IT professionals and asking “How do we get there?”

This is a common question and a vendors immediate response will be “Well this technology can definitely solve this”. My experience so far has taught me a few things, IT roles are changing they will become more strategy driven and service orientated yet most companies I now come across are still defining their strategy and really value input in to this. A strategy is a complex timeline of events to reach a goal which has a direct outcome to the business whether this be something as generic as saving money or generating new business.

The important term here is “business” the people who sign off the cheques and allow business units to pursue technologies. The strategy does not start and end with an IT department for Cloud. It should be transparent across a business yet here is the inherent problem, because “Cloud” is such a common term now people read all about the good and bad stories of cloud which can be positive and negative thus affecting a strategy.

So thinking about “Cloud” we all know the technology is there but how does a business understand the change it will bring?

The approach is simple, a step back from technology needs to be taken. In my experience the one element holding up large organisations moving to a cloud model which ever this may be, is applications. How does a large organisation understand 20 years of their applications, dependancies, landscapes, & feasibility for the cloud? In present years this would have been solved by a large complex consulting engagement which would tag applications, long story short it was a manual process which took 6-12 months. EMC last year purchased a company called “Adaptivity” which automates all of this but goes one step further with data classification, applicable data laws and a modern ranking of the applications suitability to be moved in to a cloud model such as Rack space or ATOS.

It is only when an organisation understands these large application landscapes that they can address the second issue of adopting a cloud utility model to effectively charge back BU’s. This is another common comment, the IT departments want to charge back but the BU’s are not in tune with this. Echoing back to the start of this post I mentioned transparency and it needs to have buy in across the business. Charge back and show back are elements which are desirable and it is only when organisations understand the true needs of the applications that they can streamline for the cloud. If a company takes an approach to “Gold” everything, so fast disks, huge memory in servers, backup, replication etc expect to pay for that in the cloud, this service costs and only once you have classified your applications can the financial areas of the business can explore the costs of keeping this in house or moving to a public cloud.

So stepping away from the technology and looking beyond software and hardware will drastically power conversations surrounding Cloud based technologies.

So back to the start of my comment on learning and re-learning, people want to embrace cloud but need guidance on this. Workshops and gap analysis studies with Cloud Strategy have been hugely popular and effective in this space, the more I run these type of events the more I learn that the cloud conversation struggles are not local but felt across the industry.

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Consumer Drones & CIA Cloud?

I was fascinated to read about Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos mention two things this week in a press appearance “Consumer Drones” & “Private Cloud”. Amazon as a company still continue to impress me, they are always at the bleeding edge and tend to see or imagine a long time before the remainder of the industry catches up.

Firstly lets take the word private cloud which Amazon go to lengths never to mention. Earlier in the year I blogged about the potential rumours that Amazon were building a CIA private cloud and the implications that this could have on competitors, please see the link below.

CIA Cloud

So it seems that this was not media hype and in fact this is a reality, So if you put two and two together and think if Amazon are embarking on a large scale secure cloud with the CIA they will surely apply the lessons learnt there and be even more formidable in the market place. This is certainly a wake up call for the old school of the industry who will not move PROD & enterprise workloads in to the cloud? It seems more and more now that Amazon are targeting this sector and with their pricing model and success you would not bet against them achieving such a feat. Amazon are the dominant player in this arena but they have mostly focussed on public cloud and if they can make the CIA cloud work then surely others would follow. 

The market share for cloud at the moment seems to be ramping up even more, with VMware announcing at VMworld 2013 the vCloud Hybrid services and drawing a line in the sand to target Amazon. It will be fascinating to see what un folds with this next year. 

Consumer Drones? 

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Secondly Jeff talked about consumer drones, and this fascinated me. Small electrically powered “octocopters” (Amazon Name) will deliver lightweight consumer goods in urban areas with a distance of 10 miles. This is to drastically cut down energy costs from fuel and traffic in built up areas. The whole thing seems like something out of a Sci-Fi movie though, imagine a drone landing on your front garden delivering a package, I think it would be fantastic. Obviously this is all still in the R&D phase right now and there would be endless amounts of testing and red tape to get through but just think if anyone can do this it would be Amazon! 

Food for thought anyway!


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The Secret Cloud…

Secret Cloud

Secret Cloud

To start this blog I thought a quote from Henry Ford would work quite well “A Business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about its profits, that they will be embarrassingly large!”.

From my previous post I blogged about the fist fight in the enterprise public cloud, in which there are many players including, Amazon, ATOS and more recently VMware. The list goes on, but they are all fighting about one space in particular and this is aquiring the enterprise applications that vendors and suppliers have safe guarded for years.

Amazon are making more and more in roads in to this space and I could not resist to blog about the CIA cloud. Thats right the CIA cloud, it has been reported that the CIA are in talks with Amazon around a private cloud solution. This was first reported by “Federal Computer Weekly”, now you have to think about this in context. This is the US governments first real move in to cloud computing after acknowledging the benefits of cost saving, flexibility and able to keep up with the latest trends in computing such as big data and analytics. So if the leader in cloud computing at the moment can build a highly secure, highly performant stable environment for the CIA applications, what is stopping the rest of the enterprise world merging to a similar approach?

One of the clouds biggest questions is “Is my data safe?” surely if the CIA are looking at this they deem the cloud model to be safe. Now lets not get carried away here its not like Amazon will place the CIA on a shared infrastructure with every other man and his VM! They are apparently building a private cloud for the CIA.

This is falling inline with their recent communications that they are beefing up their VPC (Virtual private cloud) capabilities, such as giving you more storage per relational database up fro 1TB to 3TB and up to 30,000 IOPS. Their whole game plan here is to attract the IT old school who will not move enterprise applications to the cloud. It certainly sounds appealing to me!

So if you put two and two together and think if Amazon are embarking on a large scale secure cloud with the CIA they will surely apply the lessons learnt there and be even more formidable in the market place.

Naturally no one will comment on this from the CIA or Amazon but I am sure this will have got tongues wagging in the industry. To go back to my quote at the start of this blog, Amazon seems ever more focussed on the service it is delivering and if they do get this contract it is reported that this is worth $600 over ten years. Just think if they can then coax the enterprise application crowd over to their services also, I think the quote rings true, they will be embarrassed by profits!

So in jest this blog never happened! “Gentlemen, congratulations. You’re everything we’ve come to expect from years of government training. Now please step this way, as we provide you with our final test: an eye exam…” FLASH (quote men in black).