Business · Cloud

Morpheus Data brings the glue to multi-cloud management

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Enterprises across the globe are starting to leverage cloud-based resources in a multitude of ways. However, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to cloud that makes sense for the enterprise portfolio. This leads to a rise in multi-cloud deployments for the varied workloads any given enterprise uses. Meaning, any given enterprise will use a variety of different cloud-based services depending on the specific requirements of any given workload. It is important to understand the difference between Multi-Cloud and Hybrid Cloud.

This cloud ‘sprawl’ creates an increasingly complicated management problem as each cloud provider uses a different approach to manage their cloud-based services. Layer in management processes, automation routines and management tools and one can quickly understand the challenge. Add to this that any given application may use a different combination of cloud services and one can quickly see how the problem gets exponentially more complicated with each workload.

MORPHEUS DATA PROVIDES THE GLUE

At Tech Field Day’s Cloud Field Day 3, I had the opportunity to meet with the team from Morpheus Data.

Morpheus Data addresses this complicated web of tools and services by providing an abstraction layer on top of the various tools and services. More specifically, Morpheus Data creates abstraction between the provisioning and underlying infrastructure. To date, they support 49 service integrations out of the box that cover a variety of cloud services, governance tools, management tools and infrastructure.

Providing governance and automation is key to any multi-cloud or hybrid-cloud deployment. Leveraging a solution like Morpheus Data will help streamline CloudOps & DevOps efforts through their integration processes.

One interesting aspect of Morpheus Data’s solution is the ability to establish application templates that span a number of different tools, services & routines. The templates assist with deployment and can set specific time limitations on specific services. This is especially handy to avoid one form of sprawl known as service abandonment where a service is left running and accruing cost even though it is no longer used.

Much of Morpheus Data’s efforts are geared toward ‘net-new’ deployments to cloud. Moving legacy workloads will require re-working before fully taking advantage of cloud-based resources. I wrote about the challenges with legacy workloads moving to public cloud in these posts:

LOOKING BEYOND THE TOOL

While Morpheus Data provides technology to address the systemic complexities of technology, it does not address the people component. To be fair, it is not clear that any tool will necessarily fix the people component. Specifically, in order to truly leverage good governance and automation routines, one needs to come to grips with the organizational and cultural changes to support such approaches.

In order to address the people component, it is helpful to break down the personas. The key three are Developer, Infrastructure Administrator and Executive. Each of these personas have different requirements and interests that will impact how services are selected and consumed.

IN SUMMARY

Morpheus Data is going after a space that is both huge and highly complicated. A big challenge for the team will be to focus on the most critical spaces without trying to cover every tool, process and model. This is really a question going broad or going deep. You can’t do both.

In addition, it is clear that Morpheus Data has a good start but would benefit from bringing operational data and costs into the factors that drive decisions on which services to use. The team already has some cost components included but are not as dynamic as enterprises will need moving forward.

In summary, the Morpheus Data solution looks like a great start to the increasingly complicated multi-cloud space. Every enterprise will have some form of complexity dealing with multi-cloud and hybrid cloud. As such, they could benefit from a solution to help streamline the processes. Morpheus Data looks like a good start and will be interesting to see how the company and solution evolve over time to address this increasingly complicated space.

CIO · Cloud

Three key changes to look for in 2018

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2017 has officially come to a close and 2018 has already started with a bang. As I look forward to what 2018 brings, the list is incredibly long and detailed. The genres of topics are equally long and cover people, process, technology, culture, business, social, economic and geopolitical boundaries…just to name a few.

Here are three highlights on my otherwise lengthy list…

EVOLVING THE CIO

I often state that after spending almost three decades in IT, now is the best time to work in technology. That statement is still true today.

One could not start a conversation about technology without first considering the importance of the technology leader and role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). The CIO, as the most senior person leading the IT organization, takes on a very critical role for any enterprise. That was true in the past, and increasingly so moving forward.

In my post ‘The difference between the Traditional CIO and the Transformational CIO’, I outline many of the differences in the ever-evolving role of the CIO. Those traits will continue to evolve as the individual, organization, leadership and overall industry change to embrace a new way to leverage technology. Understanding the psyche of the CIO is something one simply cannot do without experiencing the role firsthand. Yet, understanding how this role is evolving is exactly what will help differentiate companies in 2018 and beyond.

In 2018, we start to see the emerging role of ‘Transformational’ CIO in greater numbers. Not only does the CIO see the need for change, so does the executive leadership team of the enterprise. The CIO becomes less of a technology leader and more of a business leader that has responsibility for technology. As I have stated in the past, this is very different from that of the ‘CEO of Technology’ concept that others have bandied about. In addition, there is a sense of urgency for the change as the business climate becomes increasingly competitive from new entrants and vectors. Culture and geopolitical changes will also impact the changing role of the CIO and that of technology.

TECHNOLOGY HITS ITS STRIDE

In a similar vein to that of the CIO, technology finds its stride in 2018. Recent years have shown a lot of experimentation in the hopes of leverage and success. This ‘shotgun’ approach has been very risky…and costly for enterprises. That is not to say that experimentation is a bad thing. However, the role of technology in mainstream business evolves in 2018 where enterprises face the reality that they must embrace change and technology as part of that evolution.

Executives will look for ways to, mindfully, leverage technology to create business advantage and differentiation. Instead of sitting at the extremes of either diving haphazardly into technology or analysis paralysis, enterprises will strike a balance to embrace technology in a thoughtful, but time-sensitive way. The concept of ‘tech for tech sake’ becomes a past memory like that of the dialup modem.

One hopeful wish is that boards will stop the practice of dictating technology decisions as they have in the past with mandating their organization use cloud. That is not to say cloud is bad, but rather to suggest that a more meaningful business discussion take place that may leverage cloud as one of many tools in an otherwise broadening arsenal.

CLOUD COMES OF AGE IN ALL FORMS

Speaking of cloud, a wholesale shift takes place in 2018 where we pass the inflection point in our thinking about cloud. For the enterprise, public cloud has already reached a maturity point with all three major public cloud providers offering solid solutions for any given enterprise.

Beyond public cloud, the concept of private cloud moves from theory to reality as solutions mature and the kinks worked out. Historically, private cloud was messy and challenging even for the most sophisticated enterprise to adopt. The theory of private cloud is incredibly alluring and now has reached a point where it can become a reality for the average enterprise. Cloud computing, in its different forms has finally come of age.

 

In summary, 2017 has taught us many tough lessons in which to leverage in 2018. Based on the initial read as 2017 came to a close, 2018 looks to be another incredible year for all of us! Let us take a moment to be grateful for what we have and respect those around us. The future is bright and we have much to be thankful for.

Happy New Year!

CIO

#CIOitk: Is IT still relevant? The conversation is heating up!

The subject of IT relevance is a hotly contested subject. According to Forrester, 41% of business decision-makers believe that IT is an impediment to accelerating business success. In a recent Twitter chat, the participants addressed their thoughts on the relevance and value of IT. Disconnects, disruption and shadow IT were on the minds of participants. Not far behind…the subject of organization and culture took front and stage.

Closing the chasm

It is apparent that IT needs to change…and quick. The chasm between IT and the rest of the business is growing to the breaking point. In many ways, this is where shadow IT starts. If there is such a chasm, where does the process start to decrease the gap? The key is for the CIO to step up, and take the lead in changing the culture across the organization. Ironically, many outside IT do not believe the CIO has the capacity to make the shift. I wrote about this in Transforming IT Requires a Three-Legged Race over two years ago.

Awareness is the first step

Aside from ‘who’ starts the conversation, awareness of the problem is the first step toward resolution. The shared concern is that many IT leaders 1) are not recognizing the chasm and 2) if they do, they struggle to identify the first steps to close the gap.

For too long, IT focused on history as a predictor of the future. In other words, IT leveraged best practices as a means to future guidance. Today, the game is completely different. Today, leveraging history is almost the worst thing an IT organization can do. The past is not an indicator of the future.

Today’s organization needs to heed the phrase: Disrupt or be disrupted. IT organizations that are comfortable are those most likely to get disrupted by competitors.

Respecting the legacy

Don’t get me wrong. The legacy thinking (ie: culture, process, etc) and footprint are a reality within IT organizations today. That does not go away or change overnight. Equally an issue is that enterprise vendors face similar situations and are challenged to turn the corner too. This is about an evolution that needs to start picking up momentum…and quick!

Quoting the quotable

During the chat, a number of key quotable moments popped up. Here are just a few:

Bob Egan: If you’re not seeking change, there’s an issue. Drive change and live on the edge.

Mark Thiele: There is no comfort zone in IT.

Stuart Appley: Culture and trust are key points to today’s IT leaders.

After the chat, I asked the participants on Twitter two questions: 1) What was their one takeaway from the conversation and 2) what recommendation would they have?

Brian Katz

Takeaway: Shadow IT is only a problem if you look at it as Shadow IT versus Shadow Innovation. People just want to get their work done.

Recommendation: Move away from the idea that everything is a sacred cow, you have to be willing to move stuff when it makes sense.

Ryan Fay

Takeaway: IT is in a great position today to become Change Agents & partner with other business leader to create value and lead innovation. The tools to use are collaboration, authenticity, empathy & openness to change & becoming a modern CIO business authority.

Recommendation: Help give big picture recommendations to help all modern CIOs. Become business leaders and not just another IT “guy.” In order to have a seat at the ‘table’ you must be able to think and act like a business leader.

Philipe Abdoulaye

Takeaway: Consensus on agile collaboration between the business and IT is the key competitive advantage.

Recommendation: A model of the new style of IT is needed. Example of such a model is the Complete ITaaS Delivery Model.

Kong Yang

Takeaway: If disruptive innovation creates new business opportunities, then IT must realize innovation without disrupting themselves in order to succeed.

Recommendation: IT leaders must bridge the gap from IT Ops to business utility and show tangible ROI. Plus, have a plan to deal with industry changing technologies.

Charles Dunkley

Takeaway: Be willing to take risks to grow.

Recommendation: C-Suite could better leverage IT staff hands on insight to social and cloud tools.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that IT has a significant challenge ahead. With the advent of cloud, DevOps, containers and new service offerings, IT now has the tools to leverage a change in process and culture. To be clear, these are just tools for leverage, not the solution. Look for opportunities to drive change and disruption.

Scroll the credits…

First, thank you to the four colleagues whom developed the idea and questions for the #CIOitk discussion on IT Relevance:

Stuart Appley (@sappley) Post: Yes – IT is still relevant

Bob Egan (@bobegan)

Amy Hermes (@amyhermes)

Mark Thiele (@mthiele10) Post: IT is more relevant than ever – at least it can be

Second, another thank you to all that joined the #CIOitk conversation on Twitter. Without you, there would be no conversation. Speaking of conversations, let’s keep it going! What are your thoughts? Is IT relevant and how is that changing over time? Join the chat at #CIOitk.

Cloud

Containers in the Enterprise

Containers are all the rage right now, but are they ready for enterprise consumption? It depends on whom you ask, but here’s my take. Enterprises should absolutely be considering container architectures as part of their strategy…but there are some considerations before heading down the path.

Container conferences

Talking with attendees at Docker’s DockerCon conference and Redhat’s Summit this week, you hear a number of proponents and live enterprise users. For those that are not familiar with containers, the fundamental concept is a fully encapsulated environment that supports application services. Containers should not be confused with virtualization. In addition, containers are not to be confused with Micro Services, which can leverage containers, but do not require them.

A quick rundown

Here are some quick points:

  • Ecosystem: I’ve written before about the importance of a new technology’s ecosystem here. In the case of containers, the ecosystem is rich and building quickly.
  • Architecture: Containers allow applications to break apart into smaller components. Each of the components can then spin up/ down and scale as needed. Of course automation and orchestration comes into play.
  • Automation/ Orchestration: Unlike typical enterprise applications that are installed once and run 24×7, the best architectures for containers spin up/ down and scale as needed. Realistically, the only way to efficiently do this is with automation and orchestration.
  • Security: There is quite a bit of concern about container security. With potentially thousands or tens of thousands of containers running, a compromise might have significant consequences. If containers are architected to be ephemeral, the risk footprint shrinks exponentially.
  • DevOps: Container-based architectures can run without a DevOps approach with limited success. DevOps brings a different methodology that works hand-in-hand with containers.
  • Management: There are concerns the short lifespan of a container creates challenges for audit trails. Using traditional audit approaches, this would be true. Using newer methods provides real-time audit capability.
  • Stability: The $64k question: Are containers stable enough for enterprise use? Absolutely! The reality is that legacy architecture applications would not move directly to containers. Only those applications that are significantly modified or re-written would leverage containers. New applications are able to leverage containers without increasing the risk.

Cloud-First, Container-First

Companies are looking to move faster and faster. In order to do so, the problem needs reduction into smaller components. As those smaller components become micro services (vs. large monolithic applications), containers start to make sense.

Containers represent an elegant way to leverage smaller building blocks. Some have equated containers to the Lego building blocks of the enterprise application architecture. The days of large, monolithic enterprise applications are past. Today’s applications may be complex in sum, but are a culmination of much smaller building blocks. These smaller blocks provide the nimble and fast speed that enterprises are clamoring for today.

Containers are more than Technology

More than containers, there are other components needed for success. Containers represent the technology building blocks. Culture and process are needed to support the change in technology. DevOps provides the fluid that lubricates the integration of the three components.

Changing the perspective

As with the newer technologies coming, other aspects of the IT organization must change too. Whether you are a CIO, IT leader, developer or operations team, the very fundamentals in which we function must change in order to truly embrace and adopt these newer methodologies.

Containers are ready for the enterprise…if the other aspects are considered as well.