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HP SaaS and the Cloud: One Person’s SaaS Service is Another Person’s Oil Changers

Introductions are in order

 Q: What do John Grisham, Tom Clancy and Patricia Cornwell have in common?

 A: They all had careers in fields that were a heck of a lot more interesting than IT Management.

This is why they all have what seems to be an endless reservoir of material on which to draw upon to create incredible reading experiences for their fans. It’s also the main reason why I haven’t become a multi-millionaire by writing a book called, ‘The Firm’, about some piece of firmware that is the front for a back-dating stock option scheme.

Alas, I’ll do my best to use my career experience in IT Management as motivation to provide you dear readers with interesting, insightful and yes, even controversial reading experiences. Of the numerous blogs written about the IT Management sphere, I don’t expect you to blindly select and read my blog posts out of the many – I hope to earn your interest and your repeat business.

Combustible engines: Game-changers that shake up the world

Of course I’ll be the first to admit that IT Management may actually be exciting, especially when a game-changer comes along and redefines all that we knew before. The game-changer I’ll be writing about is cloud computing, which has the potential to redefine the rules of how IT Management may function and support business outcomes. In short, cloud computing may very well be that game-changer that injects some excitement into our world and is the impetus for this new HP SaaS blogging initiative. Being part of the cloud has provided us with some strong opinions and also intrigued us on what others think about the cloud.

There are numerous ways to define cloud computing. I actually once heard somebody define cloud computing as a set of best practices used for datacenter management. I’m not saying this opaque definition is incorrect; however I’d certainly never define it this way.

So, for purposes of discussion, allow me to level set on how HP SaaS views cloud computing. From my perspective, we pretty much fall inline with how Gartner defines cloud computing in their press release, ‘Gartner Highlights Five Attributes to Cloud Computing’, June 29, 2009'.

The five key attributes are:

  1. Service-based

  2. Scalable and Elastic

  3. Shared (resources)

  4. Metered by Use

  5. Uses Internet Technologies

I believe that these five attributes, when used wisely, provide tremendous business benefits to both cloud consumer and cloud provider, especially with respect to Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and Return On Investment (ROI).

Okay okay, I had to go there and use two of the most overly used three-letter acronyms in marketese. However in this case I truly believe the previous sentence is extremely valid and should be taken seriously. Please don’t let the appearance of ‘TCO’ and ‘ROI’ act as if they were the aftermarket wing that’s been glued on the back of a nice BMW 330ci thus turning a solid cloud computing benefit into a cheesy, throwaway line that’s the prose equivalent of a ‘Fast and The Furious’ 3-series with neon-green racing stripes.

Okay, no more digression (although I can’t promise).

Is cloud computing the next electric car?

The potential business benefits of the Cloud are very clear, yet Enterprises have yet to really adopt cloud computing as a major portion of their sourcing strategies. Here is an excerpt from the ‘Enterprises say no to cloud computing’. TechWorld article:

Forrester recently found that 25 percent of enterprises with at least 1,000 employees are using or plan to use hosted virtual server offerings such as Amazon EC2, and that fewer than 20 percent of smaller companies plan to do so. Earlier this year, Gartner said that cloud application infrastructure technologies are not yet mature and that adoption right now is limited mostly to "pioneers and trailblazers."

Inside this same article, the main inhibitor to enterprise’s adoption of cloud computing is the lack of security in the cloud.

Frank Gens, a chief analyst at IDC, also published a report called ‘Clouds and Beyond: Positioning for the Next 20 Years of Enterprise IT’, which adds application performance and availability to security, thus rounding out the top 3 inhibitors to cloud adoption.

The way I see it, these inhibitors roll up to a broader inhibitor which is that enterprises must give up some level of control of their IT environment to reap the benefits of cloud computing. It goes without saying that we in IT management, tend to be control freaks to the point of obsession/compulsion. And it’s this diminished ability to control that leads to uncertainties such as the lack of security in the cloud.

Of course, what’s obvious is that control must be relinquished as a byproduct of deploying an application off-premise. What may not be so obvious is that the amount of control that must be relinquished varies depending on how enterprises consume the cloud. To put it another way, the amount of responsibility the cloud consumer has with respect to security, performance and availability, is dynamic depending on how the cloud is being consumed.

60,000 mile check-up – whose responsibility?

Cloud computing is commonly broken down into three varieties:

  1. Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)

  2. Platform-as-a-service (PaaS)

  3. Software-as-a-service (SaaS)

Click here to learn more about each variety.

Understanding the dynamic nature of responsibility between cloud consumer and cloud provider may be easier if you view the cloud as an actual cloud with varying levels of visibility.

Try to stay with me on this.

Visibility in a white misty cloud is much clearer versus visibility in a heavy, dark cloud.  Think of IaaS as a white misty cloud where visibility is, for the most part clear. In this cloud, you can see the host machines, the operating systems and the IP addresses. View PaaS as a grey cloud where visibility is somewhat obscured, yet there is still some visibility. In this cloud, you can see the platform, the development environment and some web services. View SaaS as a dark cloud where visibility is next to nil. In this cloud, all you can see is the web application that provides the service. What you can’t see is the type of host machines, the operating systems that are running and the private IP addresses.

It’s this dynamic change in visibility within the cloud that creates the dynamic change of responsibility between cloud consumer and cloud provider. Simply put, the more visible the cloud is, the more responsibility the consumer has. The less visible the cloud is, the more responsibility the cloud provider has.

To enforce my point, let’s take security in IaaS as an example. Because IaaS has clear visibility, it’s the consumer’s responsibility to ensure:

  • Network ports are secure

  • Operating systems are hardened

  • Middleware is protected

  • Applications are secure

It’s the provider’s responsibility to ensure:

  • Web application firewalls (WAFs) are in place and configured

Let’s take the same example but change IaaS to SaaS. SaaS is a much darker portion of the cloud where visibility is obscured. In this case the provider takes on most, if not all responsibility to ensure security of the application in the cloud.

Fixing a flat tire without an air compressor

For the most part, cars are still a very convenient way to get from point A to point B. However, would we still drive cars if mechanics and subject matter experts didn’t exist? What if we had to fix our own cars? What if tools didn’t exist and we had to not only fix our own cars, but also had to create our own tools to fix our cars?

There was another layer of innovation that was created as a result of the car invention. This innovation took form in both from a solution standpoint – e.g., oil filter wrench; and from a services standpoint – e.g., smog checks. It was this layer of innovation which enabled the car to eventually thrive and become the dominant mode of transportation in the world.

I believe that HP SaaS is providing services and solutions which transforms the unpaved, single track path to the cloud into a smooth multi-lane highway that would give the autobahn an inferiority complex. As evidence to my opinion, our first innovation to market was Cloud Assure, which enables enterprises to gain some measure of control back with respect to security, performance and availability of applications in the cloud. It addresses enterprise’s top three inhibitors to cloud adoption with the ultimate goal of enabling the enterprise to benefit from the cloud while mitigating risk.

The triple-crown and grand trifecta of automobiles

The three things I want from my car:

  1. better be fast

  2. better be reliable

  3. better be economically friendly

Sadly, I can only have two out of the three. If I get two; they will negate the third.

However, through our goal to make life easier for enterprises in the cloud, we at HP SaaS try our best to provide all three: 

  1. Our services and solutions are fast – they are ready to use immediately so that you have a very fast time to value

  2. Our services are reliable –  we have a 99.9% availability service level as well as 9 years of performing SaaS services for over 700 customers

  3. Our services are economically friendly – our services have proven to lower TCO by up to 30% and are term-based so that you may leverage operational expense budgets to achieve your business outcomes

Innovation begets innovation. Not only do I think we provide some measure of a supporting infrastructure layer of innovation to assist enterprises to the cloud, but I believe we do it in such a way that makes economic and value sense to the consumer. After all, who can resist the holy-trinity of services and solutions for cloud adoption?

What are your thoughts on the division of responsibility in the cloud? From the enterprise standpoint, will the cloud be the next Ford, or will it be the next electric car? What other supporting innovations should be brought to market to ease enterprises’ transition to the cloud. And, is there any way you can achieve the triple-crown of services and solutions towards cloud adoption besides going with a SaaS model?

I look forward to your thoughts.

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About the Author(s)
  • Archie delivers strategic solutions focused on today’s critical and evolving business needs, linked to the growing list of Strategic Enterprise Services including Hybrid Cloud, IM&A including Social Media, Security and Mobility from BYOD to mobile applications. Archie is the author of 4 books so far, and a founding director of the Australian Cloud Security Alliance chapter.
  • Lending 20 years of IT market expertise across 5 continents, for defining moments as an innovation adoption change agent.
  • Global Marketing Manager at HP in the Converged Application Systems organization, ESSN for Cloud Maps Solution which is a key part of HP’s Converged Cloud and CloudSystem strategy. Responsible for leading marketing for Cloud Maps with a focus on creating internal & external awareness, sales & partner enablement, and demand generation. You can follow me on Twitter @BelaniDeepak
  • HP Software Cloud and Automation solution architect serving largest customers in Europe, now leading the Community team for HP Operations Orchestration.
  • This account is for guest bloggers. The blog post will identify the blogger.
  • 15 years in IT industry … started as sys admin, then became a consultant, instructor, solution architect and now in product marketing @HP
  • I am on the WW Cloud and Big Data Solutions Team. I help our customers adopt HP advanced solutions that are made up of products and services from across HP. I have over 30 years experience in the technology business including 17 years of business ownership.
  • Matt is a Master Engineer leading the development of CLIs and SDKs for HP Cloud. Prior to this Matt led the development of the HP public cloud marketplace and developed the HP public cloud websites. He is a regular open source contributor having contributed to wide variety of projects in numerous languages including PHP, JavaScript, and Go. Matt is a published author and conference speaker.
  • Mike has been with HP for 30 years. Half of that time was in R&D, mainly as an architect. The other 15 years has been spent in product management, product marketing, and now, solution marketing. .
  • Nimish Shelat is currently focused on Datacenter Automation and IT Process Automation solutions. Shelat strives to help customers, traditional IT and Cloud based IT, transform to Service Centric model. The scope of these solutions spans across server, database and middleware infrastructure. The solutions are optimized for tasks like provisioning, patching, compliance, remediation and processes like Self-healing Incidence Remediation and Rapid Service Fulfilment, Change Management and Disaster Recovery. Shelat has 21 years of experience in IT, 18 of these have been at HP spanning across networking, printing , storage and enterprise software businesses. Prior to his current role as a World-Wide Product Marketing Manager, Shelat has held positions as Software Sales Specialist, Product Manager, Business Strategist, Project Manager and Programmer Analyst. Shelat has a B.S in Computer Science. He has earned his MBA from University of California, Davis with a focus on Marketing and Finance.
  • René J. Aerdts is chief technologist and leader of the Strategic Pursuits and Cloud Enablement organization within the Chief Technology Office for HP Enterprise Services. René is responsible for creating and delivering direction and content for consultative driven thematic pursuits, where leading edge technologies and offerings are part of the solution.
  • 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 continent he awoke, or whom employed him, his passion to enable people with technology was constant. So now he enables businesses to determine their strategy using the latest technologies like cloud computing, mobility, and big data. HP calls these Strategic Enterprise Services, Roger calls them "another day in the office."
  • Stephen Spector is a HP Cloud Evangelist promoting the OpenStack based clouds at HP for hybrid, public, and private clouds . He was previously at Dell promoting their Cloud solutions and was the open source community manager for OpenStack and at Rackspace and Citrix Systems. While at Citrix Systems, he founded the Citrix Developer Network, developed global alliance and licensing programs, and even once added audio to the DOS ICA client with assembler. Follow Stephen at @SpectorTX
  • As a provisioning addict for 20 years, I was involved in projects in EMEA and the US as engineer, solution architect and project manager. In the last 2 years I'm in the Operations Orchestrations Community Assistance Team in HP Software R&D.
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