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Cloud Computing: Article

Architects to Cloud: Get Real

IT architects seek to bridge gap between cloud vision and reality

The popularity of the concepts around cloud computing have caught many IT departments off-guard.

While business and financial leaders have become enamored of the expected economic and agility payoffs from cloud models, IT planners often lack structured plans or even a rudimentary roadmap of how to attain cloud benefits from their current IT environment.

New market data gathered from recent HP workshops on early cloud adoption and data center transformation shows a wide and deep gulf between the desire to leverage cloud method and the ability to dependably deliver or consume cloud-based services.

So, how do those tasked with a cloud strategy proceed? How do they exercise caution and risk reduction, while also showing swift progress toward an "Everything as a Service" world? How do they pick and choose among a burgeoning variety of sourcing options for IT and business services and accurately identify the ones that make the most sense, and which adhere to existing performance, governance and security guidelines?

It's an awful lot to digest. As one recent HP cloud workshop attendee said, “We're interested in knowing how to build, structure, and document a cloud services portfolio with actual service definitions and specifications.”

Here to help better understand how to properly develop a roadmap to cloud computing adoption in the enterprise, we're joined by three experts from HP: Ewald Comhaire, global practice manager of Data Center Transformation at HP Technology Services; Ken Hamilton, worldwide director for Cloud Computing Portfolio in the HP Technology Services Division, and Ian Jagger, worldwide marketing manager for Data Center Services at HP. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Comhaire: Independent of how we define cloud -- and there are obviously lots of definitions out there -- and also independent of what value cloud can bring or what type of cloud services we are discussing, it's very clear that the cloud service providers are basically setting a new benchmark for how IT specific services are delivered to the business.

Whether it's from a scalability, a pay-per-use model, or a flexibility and speed element or whether it's the fact that it can be accessed and delivered anywhere on the network, it clearly creates some kind of pressure on many IT organizations.

... These companies will have tremendous benefits on the thinking model, the organizing for a service centric delivery model, but they may need to just work a little bit on the architecture. For example, how can they address scalability and the way that supply and demand are aligned to each other, or maybe how they charge back for some of these services in a more pay-as-you-go way versus an allocation based way.

These companies will already have a big head start. Of course, if you're working on an internal cloud, have things like virtualization in place, have consolidated your environment, as well as putting more service management processes in place around ITIL and service management, this will benefit the company greatly. We'll want to have the cloud strategy rolling out in the near future.

Jagger: ... If there are critical applications that you seek for your business, and they're available through the cloud, either from a service provider or through the shared services model, that's going to be far more efficient and cost-effective, subject to terms of ... pay-per-use and security. But once security is addressed, there are definite cost and efficiency advantages.

Hamilton: We're seeing a growing interest in cloud specifically around cost savings. Certainly, in this economy, cost savings and switching from a capital-based model to an operational model, with the flexibility that implies, is something that a number of companies are interested in.

But, I'd also like to underscore that, as we've discussed, the definition of cloud and the variety of different, and sometimes confusing possibilities around cloud, are things that customers want to get control of. They want to be able to understand what the full range of benefits might be.

In a typical internal

So, cost savings as well as agility and new business capabilities really are the three main types of benefits that we are seeing customers go after.

environment it may take weeks or months to deploy a server populated in a particular fashion. In that same internal cloud environment that time to market can be as little as hours or minutes, along with some of the increased functionality.

So, cost savings as well as agility and new business capabilities really are the three main types of benefits that we are seeing customers go after.

Because of the service orientation, this puts a greater emphasis on understanding not just the technological underpinnings, but the contractual service level elements and the virtual elements that go with this.

Comhaire: We often talk about all the benefits, but obviously, specifically for our enterprise customers, there's also an interesting list of inhibitors. In every workshop that we do, we ask our participants to rank what they believe are the biggest inhibitors, either for themselves to consume cloud services or, if they want to become a provider, what do they believe will be inhibiting their potential customers to acquire or consume the services that they are looking for? Consistently, we see five key themes coming as major inhibitors:.

A lot of companies have value chains that they've built, but what if some of the parts of that value chain are in the cloud? Have I lost too much control? Am I too much dependent?


  • Loss of control. That means I am now totally dependent on my cloud-service provider in my value chain.
  • Lack of trust in your cloud service provider. That could have to do with the question of whether they'll still be in business five years from now, and also things like price-hikes
  • Security and vulnerability. Some of that is perceived. If you architect it well, best-practice cloud-service providers can do a great job of actually being more secure than a traditional enterprise dedicated environment. Difficulties around identity management and all of the things to integrate security between the consumer and the provider that are an additional complexity there.
  • Confidentiality concerning data, because what guarantees do we have, for example, that an employee at a service provider can't take that data and sell it to a government or some other third party?
  • Reliability -- is the service going to be up enough of the time? Will it be down at moments that are not convenient?
Hamilton: [To get started], the most important thing is to make sure that the executive decision makers have a common understanding of what they might want to achieve with cloud. To that end, we've developed a Cloud Discovery Workshop, which is really a way of being able to frame the cloud decision points and to bring the executive decision makers together.

This Cloud Discovery Workshop does a great job of engaging the executive team in a very focused amount of time, as little as an afternoon, to be able to walk through the key steps around defining a common definition for their view of cloud. It's not just our view or some other vendor's view, but their definition of cloud and the benefits that they might be able to accrue.

They, specifically drill that down into particular areas with a return on investment (ROI) focus, the infrastructure capabilities that might be required, as well as the service management operational and some of the more esoteric capabilities that go hand in hand, addressing security, privacy, and other areas of risk. It's just making sure that they've got a very clear way of being able to document that, and then move forward into more detailed design, if that's the direction they want to move in.

Comhaire: From the workshop customers basically get a better view of the strategy they want to go for. We have an initial discussion on the portfolio and we talk also a little bit about the desired state. In the roadmap service, we actually take that to the next level. So we really start off with that desired state.

We have defined the capability model with five levels of capability. We don't want to call it the maturity model, because for every company, the highest maturity isn't necessarily their desired state or their end state. So, it's unfair to name it "maturity." It's more a capability or an implementation model for the cloud. We have five levels of maturity and then six domains of capabilities.

... One piece of core advice we always give is, "Keep it simple." Rather than bring out a whole portfolio of cloud services, start with one. And, that one service may not have all the functionality that you're dreaming of, but become good at doing a more simplified things faster than trying to overdo it and then end up with a five- or six-year's project, when the whole market will be changed when you can roll out. A lot of the best practice in building the roadmap is to simplify it, so it does not become this four- or five-year project that takes way too long to execute.

More Stories By Dana Gardner

At Interarbor Solutions, we create the analysis and in-depth podcasts on enterprise software and cloud trends that help fuel the social media revolution. As a veteran IT analyst, Dana Gardner moderates discussions and interviews get to the meat of the hottest technology topics. We define and forecast the business productivity effects of enterprise infrastructure, SOA and cloud advances. Our social media vehicles become conversational platforms, powerfully distributed via the BriefingsDirect Network of online media partners like ZDNet and IT-Director.com. As founder and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, Dana Gardner created BriefingsDirect to give online readers and listeners in-depth and direct access to the brightest thought leaders on IT. Our twice-monthly BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcasts examine the latest IT news with a panel of analysts and guests. Our sponsored discussions provide a unique, deep-dive focus on specific industry problems and the latest solutions. This podcast equivalent of an analyst briefing session -- made available as a podcast/transcript/blog to any interested viewer and search engine seeker -- breaks the mold on closed knowledge. These informational podcasts jump-start conversational evangelism, drive traffic to lead generation campaigns, and produce strong SEO returns. Interarbor Solutions provides fresh and creative thinking on IT, SOA, cloud and social media strategies based on the power of thoughtful content, made freely and easily available to proactive seekers of insights and information. As a result, marketers and branding professionals can communicate inexpensively with self-qualifiying readers/listeners in discreet market segments. BriefingsDirect podcasts hosted by Dana Gardner: Full turnkey planning, moderatiing, producing, hosting, and distribution via blogs and IT media partners of essential IT knowledge and understanding.