Business · Cloud · Data

Shifting the thinking of enterprise applications

Enterprise applications are not new and have been around for decades. Since their start, enterprise applications have increased in their level of sophistication and business automation. However, this sophistication comes with a significant degree of complexity too.

Historically, enterprises were in the position where they needed to build everything themselves. Much of this stemmed from the fact there were limited options to consider. Fast forward to today and there are a myriad of options of how an enterprise can consume an enterprise application.

However, getting from here to there is not trivial. Practically every enterprise application has a strong degree of complexity that is directly tied to the intricacies of their specific business operations. For decades, enterprises have taken the approach of customizing the application to match their existing business processes. Due to the degree of customization, every enterprise Information Technology (IT) organization essentially created their own enterprise application snowflake.

CHANGING THE ENTERPRISE APPLICATION PARADIGM

One of the challenges for enterprise applications in the cost to upgrade. All of the unique customizations significantly increase the cost and complexity to upgrade the system. The customizations, related programming, configuration and testing involved turn each upgrade into the equivalent of a new implementation.

For many enterprises, it is common practice to skip versions rather than maintain currency due to the cost and disruption associated with the complexity to upgrade. This also means that many enterprises delay their ability to leverage new functionality.

New opportunities from cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) present unique opportunities to enterprise applications. With cloud-based enterprise applications, no longer is the enterprise required to install, manage and operate the underlying enterprise application. As applications increase in their level of complexity, this takes an increasingly huge burden off the shoulders of the IT organization.

AI presents a different type of opportunity. Enterprises are increasingly their reliance on data to gain greater insights. The volume and types of data are adding increased pressure on the traditional methods to analyze data. AI presents a unique opportunity to automate the process and gain insights not previously possible. However, the more data available to the AI algorithm, the more supportive it can be. And that is where cloud comes in to provide additional resources in a meaningful way when needed without the need to build a fortress internally.

TRADITIONAL VERSUS TRANSFORMATIONAL

Of late, enterprise IT organizations are shifting their focus from a traditionalIT organization to that of a transformationalIT organization. That is to say that their focus is shifting from technology-centricto business-centric. As part of this shift, IT organizations are looking for ways to streamline their technical operations and focus more on data and insights.

The shift to transformational IT organizations is having an impact on the most sacred applications within the IT portfolio including the enterprise applications.

MATURING THE THINKING ABOUT ENTERPRISE APPLICATIONS

More mature enterprises are starting to shift their thinking about enterprise applications. This is due to a number of factors including 1) IT organizations are shifting their focus on business-centric outcomes, 2) Mature alternatives exist for even the largest of implementations 3) The pressure to implement advanced functions is increasing and 4) The speed in which IT organizations must respond with changes is increasing.

Each of these pose a significant challenge to the traditional approach of maintaining enterprise applications. The only real solution is to change the thinking around enterprise applications to avoid proliferating snowflakes.

 

This post was sponsored by:

SAP_Best_R_grad_blk

https://www.sap.com/intelligentdata

Business · Cloud

Riverbed extends into the cloud

logo_riverbed_orange

One of the most critical, but often overlooked components in a system is that of the network. Enterprises continue to spend considerable amounts of money on network optimization as part of their core infrastructure. Traditionally, enterprises have controlled much of the network between applications components. Most of the time the different tiers of an application were collocated in the same data center or across multiple data centers and dedicated network connections that the enterprise had control of.

The advent of cloud changed all of that. Now, different tiers of an application may be spread across different locations, running on systems that the enterprise does not control. This lack of control provides a new challenge to network management.

In addition to applications moving, so does the data. As applications and data move beyond the bounds of the enterprise data center, so does the need to address the increasingly dispersed network performance requirements. The question is: How do you still address network performance management with you no longer control the underlying systems and network infrastructure components?

Riverbed is no stranger to Network performance management. Their products are widely used across enterprises today. At Tech Field Day’sCloud Field Day 3, I had the chance to meet up with the Riverbed team to discuss how they are extending their technology to address the changing requirements that cloud brings.

EXTENDING NETWORK PERFORMANCE TO CLOUD

Traditionally network performance management involved hardware appliances that would sit at the edges of your applications or data centers. Unfortunately, in a cloud-based world, the enterprise does not have access to the cloud data center nor network egress points.

Network optimization in cloud requires an entirely different approach. Add to this that application services are moving toward ephemeral behaviors and one can quickly see how this becomes a moving target.

Riverbed takes a somewhat traditional approach to how they address the network performance management problem in the cloud. Riverbed gives the enterprise the option to run their software as either a ‘sidecar’ to the application or as part of the cloud-based container.

EXTENDING THE DATA CENTER OR EMBRACING CLOUD?

There are two schools of thought on how one engages a mixed environment of traditional data center assets along with cloud. The first is to look at extending the existing data center so that the cloud is viewed as simply another data center. The second approach is to change the perspective where the constraints are reduced to the application…or better yet service level. The latter is a construct that is typical in cloud-native applications.

Today, Riverbed has taken the former approach. They view the cloud as another data center in your network. To this point, Riverbed’s SteelFusion product works as if the cloud is another data center in the network. Unfortunately, this only works when you have consolidated your cloud-based resources into specific locations.

Most enterprises are looking at a very fragmented approach to their use of cloud-based resources today. A given application may consume resources across multiple cloud providers and locations due to specific resource requirements. This shows up in how enterprises are embracing a multi-cloud strategy. Unfortunately, consolidation of cloud-based resources works against one of the core value propositions to cloud; the ability to leverage different cloud solutions, resources and tools.

UNDERSTANDING THE RIVERBED PORTFOLIO

During the session with the Riverbed team, it was challenging to understand how the different components of their portfolio work together to address the varied enterprise requirements. The portfolio does contain extensions to existing products that start to bring cloud into the network fold. Riverbed also discussed their Steelhead SaaS product, but it was unclear how it fits into a cloud native application model. On the upside, Riverbed is already supporting multiple cloud services by allowing their SteelConnect Manager product to connect to both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. On AWS, SteelConnect Manager can run as an AWS VPC.

Understanding the changing enterprise requirements will become increasingly more difficult as the persona of the Riverbed buyer changes. Historically, the Riverbed customer was a network administrator or infrastructure team member. As enterprises move to cloud, the buyer changes to the developer and possibly the business user in some cases. These new personas are looking for quick access to resources and tools in an easy to consume way. This is very similar to how existing cloud resources are consumed. These new personas are not accustomed to working with infrastructure nor do they have an interest in doing so.

PROVIDING CLARITY FOR THE CHANGING CLOUD CUSTOMER

Messaging and solutions geared to these new personas of buyers need to be clear and concise. Unfortunately, the session with the Riverbed team was very much focused on their traditional customer; the Network administrator. At times, they seemed to be somewhat confused by questions that addressed cloud native application architectures.

One positive indicator is that Riverbed acknowledged that the end-user experience is really what matters, not network performance. In Riverbed parlance, they call this End User Experience Management (EUEM). In a cloud-based world, this will guide the Riverbed team well as they consider what serves as their North Star.

As enterprise embrace cloud-based architectures more fully, so will the need for Riverbed’s model that drives their product portfolio, architecture and go-to-market strategy. Based on the current state, they have made some inroads, but have a long way to go.

Further Reading: The difference between hybrid and multi-cloud for the enterprise

Business

Droplet Computing makes a big splash at Cloud Field Day 3

droplet.png

Every so often there is a company that catches your eye. Not because of their flashy marketing, but because they are solving a really interesting problem with a clever approach. That happened at Tech Field Day’s Cloud Field Day 3, where Droplet Computingofficially came out of stealth and held the public launch of the company.

LIBERATION OF APPLICATIONS

Droplet Computing’s core value proposition is the containerization of applications in an effort to modernize infrastructure. Essentially, Droplet Computing provides the ability to take an application and create a container around the application. This creates an abstraction layer between the application and the underlying system operating system (OS). Droplet Computing does note that there are components of the original OS that are needed inside the container to support the application, but that they are not the full OS. Once the application is containerized, it can move to other platforms; newer OS, different platform, moved to a mobile device, etc.

The underlying technology uses a combination of Wine& WebAssemblyto containerize the application.

There are many applications still in use across the globe that are not able to be upgraded for a myriad of reasons. Unfortunately, this limits the ability of the operator to move forward in modernizing their entire infrastructure while these older applications are still in use.

The solution is not limited to just older applications. Other applications could use the same technology to provide mobility between different system types, OS and the like. However, there are a number of competing products that provide similar functions for current applications.

Several of the use-cases that the Droplet Computing team mentioned included custom applications associated with CNC machines, MRI devices and the like. One thought was, think of all the WindowsXP based applications and older custom machines that are still in use today.

REDUCING THE CYBERSECURITY FOOTPRINT

There is one clever side-effect to encapsulating the application and providing the ability to upgrade the underlying hardware and OS without having to upgrade the application. It reduces the cybersecurity footprint and risk for that system. Does it eliminate the risk completely? No. But by leveraging modern hardware and OS, it does make a dent into reducing the potential risk.

IN SUMMARY

Droplet Computing is not the silver bullet that will magically modernize your entire environment, but it does give a level of abstraction to those older applications still widely used. This allows enterprises to bring legacy applications forward through modernization.

At the same time, it addresses a core issue that all enterprises are seeking: reduce your cybersecurity footprint. In today’s world where the risks from cyber-attacks are increasing, anything that reduces the footprint is a welcome approach.

Droplet Computing’s product is currently in ‘pre-GA’ and slated to move to GA by mid-May.

Business · CIO · Cloud

SAP Cloud Platform is not your typical ERP software

img_5439

I had the opportunity to join SAP (NYSE: SAP) executives recently for SAP’s Capital Markets Day at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Before talking about my perspective on SAP and the SAP Cloud Platform, I would be remiss mentioning the NYSE itself. The NYSE is not like every other business location in lower Manhattan. The NYSE is more like a working museum. The halls are opulent and filled with the rich (pun intended) history of the NYSE. From clocks running since the mid-1800s’ to maps from the same period and paintings galore, the history of the NYSE comes out with every turn. Check out my Tweets and Instagram pictures for more details.

img_5461

Now on to SAP Capital Markets Day.

NOT YOUR TYPICAL ERP SYSTEM

SAP Cloud Platform is SAP’s overarching name given to their core set of cloud-based offerings. Today, SAP Cloud Platform includes S4 and HANA; SAP’s in-memory database solution.

Like many cloud-based software solutions, SAP Cloud Platform offers many of the core features found in their traditional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution without the overhead of managing the underlying infrastructure. Traditional ERP solutions are very resource intensive and require a fleet of staff and systems to maintain. At the same time, these same solutions are getting increasingly more complex maintain.

In addition to the initial implementation, upgrades for ERP solutions are equally complicated and expensive. Much of this is due to the significant customizations that customers perform with their specific implementation. Therefore, many enterprises are starting to consider cloud-based ERP solutions.

SAP Cloud Platform offers a cloud-based alternative to their core ERP offering hence alleviating the need for customers to manage the underlying system and corresponding infrastructure. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

NEW TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLOUD

By shifting their focus to SAP Cloud Platform, SAP can introduce new technology much quicker than previously possible. Since SAP is managing the platform, software updates are relatively automatic with little to no involvement on behalf of the customer. In turn, customers can immediately take advantage of new technology without having to wait until the next upgrade cycle…which may be years away.

One of the new technologies that SAP is bringing to SAP Cloud Platform is Artificial Intelligence (AI). When using the traditional ERP approach, a rollout of new technology may take years. However, cloud allows customers to immediately leverage AI. That is a huge differentiator considering the pace in which technology is changing. There is simply no way for traditional enterprises to keep up with the ever-changing technology landscape.

A SHIFT IN CUSTOMER BEHAVIOR

While speaking with customers at the event, one difference in thinking started appearing. A very stark difference in thinking. Essentially, customers now realize the frustration, complexity and cost that comes with highly configured environments. Any changes require a significant amount of time and money. Of the customers that I spoke with at SAP Capital Markets Day, this thinking has turned on its head.

In the past, the traditional thinking was to modify the ERP system to map against existing business processes. This approach, from experience, was complicated and troublesome on many levels. At the end of the implementation the company was left with a snowflake of software that was as unique as their business.

In the new model, companies realize the painful downsides of customization. Of the customers I spoke with, they focused on how processes were setup in the system and changed their internal business processes to match those. This is the exact opposite approach from the traditional one.

If I go back 20+ years to my first experience implementing SAP, the very suggestion to adapt business processes to the software would have been considered heresy. Yet, that is exactly what is happening today.

IN SUMMARY

The conversations I had with SAP customers about their philosophy on how technology and business intersect echoes other conversations I have with customers. There is a time to adapt technology to business…but to a point. We need to understand the downsides in doing so. Just because you can customize something does not mean you should.

I wrote about this four years ago in Simple and Standard…or Custom and Complex? It appears this is finally playing out. And SAP is projecting that this shift in thinking will translate to most of their revenue coming from their SAP Cloud Platform in next few years. That is a bold statement, but not out of bounds.

If you think about ERP systems today, they are heavy, complicated and costly. There is a minimum price to play with ERP. By offering their ERP solution via cloud, SAP has lowered the barrier to entry for ERP. And by doing so has effectively opened their market potential to a much wider audience…that previously would have never considered ERP at the SAP level.

From my conversations with SAP executives, SAP is a very different company these days. That starts with their CEO, Bill McDermott, and filters throughout the organization. As enterprises move to cloud, SAP will be one company to watch in the coming years.

Business · Cloud · Data

Amazon drives cloud innovation toward the enterprise

 

Amazon continues to drive forward with innovation at a blistering pace. At their annual re:Invent confab, Amazon announced dozens of products to an audience of over 30,000 attendees. There are plenty of newsworthy posts outlining the specific announcements including Amazon’s own re:Invent website. However, there are several announcements that specifically address the growing enterprise demand for cloud computing resources.

INNOVATION AT A RAPID SCALE

One thing that stuck out at the conference was the rate in which Amazon is innovating. Amazon is innovating so fast it is often hard to keep up with the changes. On one hand, it helps Amazon check the boxes when compared against other products. On the other hand, new products like Amazon Rekognition, Polly and Lex demonstrate the level of sophistication that Amazon can bring to market beyond simple infrastructure services. By leveraging their internal expertise in AI and Machine Learning, Amazon’s challenge is one of productizing the solutions.

The sheer number of new, innovative solutions is remarkable but makes it hard to keep track of the best solutions to use for different situations. In addition, it creates a bulging portfolio of services like that of its traditional corporate software competitors.

As an enterprise uses more of Amazon’s products, the fear of lock-in grows. Should this be a concern to either Amazon or potential enterprise customers? Read my post: Is the concept of enterprise lock in a red herring? Lock in is a reality across cloud providers today, not just Amazon. Building solutions for one platform does not provide for easy migration to competing solutions. Innovation is a good thing, but does come at a cost.

DRIVING TOWARD THE EDGE

There are two issues that challenge enterprises evaluating the potential of cloud computing. One challenge is the delivery mechanism. Not all applications are well suited for a centralized cloud-based delivery approach. There are use cases in just about every industry where computing is best suited at the edge. The concept of hybrid cloud computing is one way to address it. At re:Invent, Amazon announced Greengrass which moves the computing capability of Amazon’s Lambda function to a device. At the extreme, Greengrass enables the ability to embed cloud computing functions on a chip.

Moving cloud functionality to the edge is one issue. A second perspective is that it signals Amazon’s acknowledgement that not all roads end with public cloud. The reality is that most industries have use cases where centralized cloud computing is simply not an option. One example, of many, is processing at a remote location. Backhauling data to the cloud for processing is not a viable option. In addition, Internet of Things (IoT) is presenting opportunities and challenges for cloud. The combination of Greengrass and, also announced, Snowball Edge extend Amazon’s reach to the edge of the computing landscape.

AS THE SNOWBALL ROLLS DOWNHILL…

As a snowball rolls downhill, it grows in size. Last year, Amazon announced the data storage onboarding appliance, Snowball. Since last year’s re:Invent, Amazon found customers were using Snowball in numbers exceeding expectations. In addition to the sheer number of Snowball devices, customers are moving larger quantities of data onto Amazon’s cloud. Keep in mind it is still faster to move large quantities of data via truck than over the wire. To address this increase in demand, Amazon drove an 18-wheeled semi-truck and trailer on stage to announce Amazon Snowmobile. While everyone thought it was a gimmick, it is quite real. Essentially, Snowmobile is a semi-trailer that houses a massive storage-focused data center. From an enterprise perspective, this addresses one of the core challenges to moving applications to cloud: how to move the data…and lots of it.

IS AMAZON READY FOR ENTERPRISE?

With the announcements made to date, is Amazon truly ready for enterprise demand? Amazon is the clear leader for public cloud services today. They squarely captured the webscale and startup markets. However, a much larger market is still relatively untapped: Enterprises. Unlike the webscale and startup markets, the enterprise market is both exponentially larger and incredibly more complex. Many of these issues are addressed in Eight ways enterprises struggle with public cloud. For any cloud provider, understanding the enterprise is the first of several steps. A second step is in providing products and services that help enterprises with the onboarding process. As an analogy: Building a beautiful highway is one thing. When you ask drivers to build their own onramps, it creates a significant hurdle to adoption. This is precisely the issue for enterprises when it comes to public cloud. Getting from here to there is not a trivial step.

amazon-enterprise-cloud-gap

To counter the enterprise challenges, Amazon is taking steps in the direction of the enterprise. First is the fundamental design of their data centers and network. Amazon understands that enterprises are looking for data center redundancy. One way they address this is by maintaining multiple data centers in each location. After learning about the thoughts and reasons behind some of their strategic decisions, it’s clear there is quite a bit of deep thinking that goes into decisions. That will bode well for enterprises. Second, Amazon announced their partnership with VMware. I addressed my thoughts on the partnership here: VMware and Amazon AWS Partnership: An Enterprise Perspective. A third step is Amazon’s AWS Migration Acceleration Program. This program is led by a former CIO and directly targets enterprises looking to adopt Amazon’s services. In addition to their internal migration organization, Amazon is building out their partner program to increase the number of partners helping enterprises migrate their applications to Amazon.

ALL ROADS DO NOT LEAD TO PUBLIC CLOUD

Even with all the work Amazon is doing to woo enterprise customers, significant challenges exist. Many assume that all roads lead to public cloud. This statement overstates the reality of how companies need to consume computing resources. There are several paths and outcomes supporting the reality of enterprise computing environments.

How Amazon addresses those concerns will directly impact their success in the enterprise market. Amazon is closing the gap, but so are competitors like Microsoft and others.

CIO · Cloud

Is public cloud more or less expensive than corporate data center options?

 

img_1963

First a shout out to both Steve Kaplan and Jeff Sussna for encouraging this post. This post is a continuation from the post Eight ways enterprise struggle with public cloud and delves into the reasons why public cloud can be 4x the cost of corporate data centers.

Enterprises often look toward public cloud as a cost savings measure. Cost savings is the first stage of the enterprise maturity model leverage cloud. The thinking is that public cloud is less expensive than corporate data center options, right? Yes and no. Enterprises are learning the hard way that public cloud is not less expensive than corporate data center options. Why is that the case and can anything be done to change the outcome?

AN ANALOG MODEL

First, it is important to understand the differences in usage behavior between enterprise applications leveraging corporate data centers versus public cloud. An analog is the difference between buying a car versus renting it. In this analogy, the car represents infrastructure. Which is better? Which is less expensive? To answer those questions, one first needs to understand usage behaviors.

Scenario A

Assume for a minute that you were accustomed to purchasing a large car. Whether you used it every day or not, it would sit, running, ready whenever needed. Some days you only need one seat, while other days, you need all five seats plus lots of luggage space. In this model, you pay for the large car whether used or not.

Scenario B

Now, imagine those assumptions, but rather than purchasing the large car, it is simply rented. The large car is rented full time, running and ready whether used or not.

In Scenario B, a premium is paid for the ability to rent the car. Yet, the advantages of 1) renting the car only when needed and 2) renting the size of car most appropriately needed are lost. The large car is rented whether needed or not.

Like the car model, enterprise applications are built around a model that assumes the large car is available 24×7 even though you may or may not use all its capacity or every day. Enterprise applications are accustomed to purchasing the car, not renting it. Purchasing makes sense for this behavior. Yet, when moving enterprise applications to public cloud without changing the behaviors, the advantages of shifting the model from owning to renting are lost.

BEHAVIOR AND ARCHITECTURE CHANGES OUTCOMES

Changing the behaviors of the enterprise applications when moving to public cloud is the right answer to address this issue. However, that is easier said than done. Adding orchestration and automation within an application to leverage resources when needed and returning them when done often requires a significant architectural change or a complete application re-write. Both options are significant and work against any potential cost savings for public cloud.

Adding another wrinkle to the mix is that enterprise applications are architected to assume that infrastructure is always available. That means that redundancy and resiliency is maintained in the infrastructure, not the application. Public cloud infrastructure is not built with this redundancy and resiliency. Public cloud requires the application to carry the intelligence to address infrastructure issues. Shifting intelligence to the application is yet another significant architectural challenge for enterprise applications.

Note that these architectural changes bring added value beyond efficiently leveraging public cloud. Those changes include agility and responsiveness to an ever-changing business climate.

CAN ENTERPRISES STILL LEVERAGE PUBLIC CLOUD?

With these significant hurdles and those addressed in Eight ways enterprises struggle with public cloud, it is easy to see why enterprise public cloud adoption is relatively sluggish. Yet, CIOs still need to get out of the data center business and public cloud is a fine option for those applications that make sense. Between public cloud and corporate data centers, which model is ultimately better? It depends on the needs and behaviors of the applications along with the capability of the organization.

It is important to take a minute and think about the path to public cloud. It is also important to understand that not all roads lead to public cloud. Avoid the potholes, plan accordingly and leverage the benefits.

CIO · Cloud

Eight ways enterprises struggle with public cloud

img_5313

The move to public cloud is not new yet many enterprises still struggle to successfully leverage public cloud services. Public cloud services have existed for more than a decade. So, why is it that companies still struggle to effectively…and successfully leverage public cloud? And, more importantly, what can be done, if anything, to address those challenges?

There is plenty of evidence showing the value of public cloud and its allure for the average enterprise. For most CIOs and IT leaders, they understand that there is potential with public cloud. That is not the fundamental problem. The issue is in how you get from here to there. Or, in IT parlance, how you migrate from current state to future state. For many CIOs, cloud plays a critical role in their digital transformation journey.

The steps in which you take as a CIO are not as trivial as many make it out to be. The level of complexity and process is palpable and must be respected. Simply put, it is not a mindset, but rather reality. This is the very context missing from many conversations about how enterprises, and their CIO, should leverage public cloud. Understanding and addressing the challenges provides for greater resolution to a successful path.

THE LIST OF CHALLENGES

Looking across a large cross-section of enterprises, several patterns start to appear. It seems that there are six core reasons why enterprises struggle to successfully adopt and leverage public cloud.

  1. FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt still ranks high among the list of issues with public cloud…and cloud in general. For the enterprise, there is value, but also risk with public cloud. Industry-wide, there is plenty of noise and fluff that further confuses the issues and opportunities.
  2. % of Shovel Ready Apps: In the average enterprise, only 10-20% of an IT organization’s budget (and effort) is put toward new development. There are many reasons for this. However, it further limits the initial opportunity for public cloud experimentation.
  3. Cost: There is plenty of talk about how public cloud is less costly than traditional corporate data center infrastructure. However, the truth is that public cloud is 4x the cost of running the same application within the corporate data center. Yes, 4x…and that considers a fully-loaded corporate data center cost. Even so, the reasons in this list contribute to the 4x factor and therefore can be mitigated.
  4. Automation & Orchestration: Corporate enterprise applications were never designed to accommodate automation and orchestration. In many cases, the effort to change an application may range from requiring significant changes to a wholesale re-write of the application.
  5. Architectural Differences: In addition to a lack of automation & orchestration support, corporate enterprise applications are architected where redundancy lies in the infrastructure tiers, not the application. The application assumes that the infrastructure is available 24×7 regardless if it is needed for 24 hours or 5 minutes. This model flies in the face of how public cloud works.
  6. Cultural impact: Culturally, many corporate IT folks work under an assumption that the application (and infrastructure it runs on) is just down the hall in the corporate data center. For infrastructure teams, they are accustomed to managing the corporate data center and infrastructure that supports the corporate enterprise applications. Moving to a public cloud infrastructure requires changes in how the CIO leads and how IT teams operate.
  7. Competing Priorities: Even if there is good reason and ROI to move an application or service to public cloud, it still must run the gauntlet of competing priorities. Many times, those priorities are set by others outside of the CIOs organization. Remember that there is only a finite amount of budget and resources to go around.
  8. Directives: Probably one of the scariest things I have heard is board of directors dictating that a CIO must move to cloud. Think about this for a minute. You have an executive board dictating technology direction. Even if it is the right direction to take, it highlights other issues in the executive leadership ranks.

Overall, one can see how each of these eight items are intertwined with each other. Start to work on one issue and it may address another issue.

UNDERSTANDING THE RAMIFICATIONS

The bottom line is that, as CIO, even if I agree that public cloud provides significant value, there are many challenges that must be addressed. Aside from FUD and the few IT leaders that still think cloud is a fad that will pass, most CIOs I know support leveraging cloud. Again, that is not the issue. The issue is how to connect the dots to get from current state to future state.

However, not addressing the issues up front from a proactive perspective can lead to several outcomes. These outcomes are already visible in the industry today and further hinder enterprise public cloud adoption.

  1. Public Cloud Yo-Yo: Enterprises move an application to public cloud only to run into issues and then pull it back out to a corporate data center. Most often, this is due to the very issues outlined above.
  2. Public Cloud Stigma: Due to the yo-yo effect, it creates a chilling effect where corporate enterprise organizations slow or stop public cloud adoption. The reasons range from hesitation to flat out lack of understanding.

Neither of these two issues are good for enterprise public cloud adoption. Regardless, the damage is done and considering the other issues, pushes public cloud adoption further down the priority list. Yet, both are addressable with a bit of forethought and planning.

GETTING ENTERPRISES STARTED WITH PUBLIC CLOUD

One must understand that the devil is in the details here. While this short list of things ‘to-do’ may seem straight forward, how they are done and addressed is where the key is.

  1. Experiment: Experiment, experiment, experiment. The corporate IT organization needs a culture of experimentation. Experiments are mean to fail…and learned from. Too many times, the expectation is that experiments will succeed and when they don’t, the effort is abandoned.
  2. Understand: Take some time to fully understand public cloud and how it works. Bottom line: Public cloud does not work like corporate data center infrastructure. It is often best to try and forget what you know about your internal environment to avoid preconceived assumptions.
  3. Plan: Create a plan to experiment, test, observe, learn and feed that back into the process to improve. This statement goes beyond just technology. Consider the organizational, process and cultural impacts.

WRAPPING IT UP

There is a strong pull for CIOs to get out of the data center business and reduce their corporate data center footprint. Public cloud presents a significant opportunity for corporate enterprise organizations. But before jumping into the deep end, take some time to understand the issues and plan accordingly. The difference will impact the success of the organization, speed of adoption and opportunities to the larger business.

Further Reading…

The enterprise view of cloud, specifically public cloud, is confusing

The enterprise CIO is moving to a consumption-first paradigm

The three modes of enterprise cloud applications