How Do You Want to Travel in the Cloud?

By Roger Lawrence, CTO Stategic Enterprise Services - HP South Pacific

 

“Cloud” Computing is such an emotive, ambiguous and misinterpreted term. If you listen to Amazon’s Werner Vogels (one of the most brilliant CTO’s, imho) he’ll tell you that it is not cloud unless— your platform removes all capex, is entirely elastic and is purely pay as you go.

 

He has a point.

 

This is kind of like saying that unless you travel by bus, it’s not transport.

 

And just like transport, we have a number of options when we consider computing delivery.

 

My experience shows that using cloud as an adjective for the most part is unhelpful. Let’s return to our business imperatives and drivers, and then look at how we deliver the most appropriate computer resources to achieve the strategic goals to meet these drivers. In this process we will find a number of opportunities:

  • Private Cloud – This is where we leverage the technical benefits of cloud computing (SOA, standardisation, virtualisation, automation, self-service provisioning and deprovisioning) but not the commercial benefits. In essence, you still host the service in your data centre, and you own the assets—whether leased or capitalised.
  • Virtual or Dedicated Private Cloud – This is where you leverage both the technical and some commercial benefits. You don’t own the assets or the reserve compute capacity (like a post-paid mobile phone contract). The advantage here is that you take capex off the books, and benefit from leveraging hosting infrastructure across a number of other clients.
  • Public Cloud – This is where you totally leverage all of the technical benefits and the financial benefits. On the one hand: no stand-up time, no minimum contract or reservation, infinite scalability and pay as you go. On the other hand: ultimate standardisation, no data or labour sovereignty, strict requirements for governance and management. This provides higher overall prices for some workloads.
  • Hybrid of the above – This is where most enterprises end up because most enterprises have assets still depreciating, legacy architectures with inflexible interdependencies and data sovereignty requirements. Not to mention the large transformation cost considerations we earlier in the week.

The best thing to do is really consider the economics of cloud computing for your enterprise.  Your organisation needs to determine:

  • The business strategy, the application architecture, and compute resources you’ll need to deliver on that strategy. Note, that fundamental advances in technology will provide opportunities for change in governance, funding, and revenue generation that will input to the strategy. This is the Future Mode of Operations (FMO), where we want to get to.
  • The current architecture. What platforms, interdependencies, license agreements, hardware refresh cycles, governance, and capital/operational budgets you have. The Current Mode of Operations (CMO).
  • Then determine what can go into the various cloud models immediately. Many organisations I speak with move network aware workloads (messaging, collaboration etc.) or stateless systems (web servers, develop and test etc.) For most organisations, this sits in the 10-20 percent range.

Some 10-20 percent of workloads may never go into the cloud, and shouldn’t (e.g. your mainframe). This leaves 60-80 percent of workloads that:

  • Can be replaced, rewritten or transformed into the cloud
  • Have some sort of transformation or replacement cost
  • To be balanced against hardware refresh, licence and operational costs

Consider how many different ways the employees in your organisation get to work: They travel by private, shared, rented or public transport. Add in the variety of organisation-provided work locations— home-office equipment, owned, leased or rented and the number of work options is unlimited.

 

This analogy offers a tangible example of the complexity we need to consider, hence the variety of methods we’ll use to deliver business technology to our organisations.

 

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About the Author
Roger has been trying to get out of Information Technology since programming COBOL on mainframes in the late '80's. But no matter in which c...
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