Dead Bodies and Minefields on the Wrong Paths to Cloud
There is a promised path to the cloud. One that feels familiar to hardware and software vendors, and to their armies of certified infrastructure practitioners working at enterprises all around us. This path looks like a monochrome Bifröst, extending out of data centers to the cloud. This is what everyone is calling hybrid-cloud, though some might call it IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS).
The vendors tell you this is the right thing to do, and so does your “group inertia.” Without shattering your own thinking and realizing that the cloud has democratized the IT industry, such that big enterprises no longer have the monopoly on the best brains and technology, you will find anything but the right path to cloud for your organization.
“Let’s keep the same IT people (you and me), our (friends at our) suppliers, and (our ITIL) processes and then just add a bit of new technology, and maybe perhaps dabble in DevOps. There’s no need to rip up the rule book for cloud!”
Is this you?
It’s self-delusion akin to “Just add a few more bells and whistles… and voila!” It’s the wrong thinking, the thinking that the dead bodies that pave the path to cloud wished they had changed. It’s the thinking that hides a dangerous minefield of cloud journey perils and pitfalls.
Your Dead Bodies; Your Minefields
When many IT practitioners think “cloud” they think Infrastructure-as-a-Service because it’s the most familiar to them. It’s also familiar to them to keep hold of their on-premises technology because they (incorrectly) think that running all those routers and switches in a petrol station, say, is an advantage.
The best way, in their opinion, to “do cloud” is to extend into a public cloud by replicating their architecture on that public cloud: same kind of virtual machines (VMs), same kind of virtual network, same kind of storage, same kind of tools, run by the same kind of people. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
It’s startling how much “dead thinking” occurs in many IT organizations. Does the IT industry have a big cultural problem, built up over decades, where IT was punished for failure and never rewarded for success? Conversely, why do today’s greenfield startups embrace failure, and reward speed and agility? Why are they unencumbered not just with the technology of yesteryear, but also the people and the thinking that comes with it. Are we seeing a cultural shift of enormous proportions that separates the slow fish from the fast fish?
An organization cannot overlay cloud on top of their calcified ITIL processes and people structures, and expect to succeed. This overlaying, dead-thinking approach leads to minefield situations such as building cloud infrastructure from the floor up, taking months to do it, to provide a database to developers when clear thinking would have told you to rent one from AWS or Azure that afternoon.
Vendors Have Dead Bodies and Minefields Too
The marketing departments of the billion-dollar software and hardware companies are working overtime to keep you blinkered from reality and spending on that habit you’ve got that involves their product (and that’s also probably linked to your staff’s technical certifications). The hybrid-cloud promise only comes from traditional vendors because it’s the only way they can keep you spending with them.
These big companies are frightened because they are so far behind, and so different, to the leading cloud service providers (CSPs), there is no way for them to catch up. Especially because the gap is widening – with the growth of CSPs in high double digits whereas traditional companies are single digit growth at best, negative at worst.
The game changed while they were sucking on their half-time oranges, and now:
- HP gave up on public cloud
- IBM bought a couple of small decent providers
- Cisco and EMC (soon to be Dell) bought a little provider each
- Telcos like Colt abandoned their cloud services
- Large telcos are on their third or fourth cloud project
What these companies offer, in terms of cloud, may well be suitable for a particular company’s DNA but remember that their shrieking marketing machines have one ear and two mouths. They will tell you that they are bigger and better than AWS and Azure (perhaps “we’re faster,” “we’re cheaper,” “we’re not American,” or other similar lines). They will insist, through their sales teams speaking directly to your CIO, that they are the only right answer for your organization.
The Right Path: Your Cloud, Not Someone Else’s Idea
In the past year we have seen large, big-brand and mature organizations embracing the cloud fully, what AWS calls “going all-in.” General Electric, JPMC, Royal Philips, the list is long and impressive. Many started with the familiar IaaS but their business is being disrupted at pace by software companies and they realize that they need to be pushing to be the software leader in their markets, not just the manufacturing leader. For example:
- Ford thinks of itself as a software company, the engine and wheels are there just to carry the computer around.
- General Electric are using CloudFoundry PaaS and Big Data to track billions of data points for their complex engines instead of renting VMs, installing their own software, etc.
There is (at least!) one big difference between companies that have found their right path to cloud and those that haven’t:
Successful cloud-consuming companies think “consumption,” not “provisioning,” and they consume higher-order cloud services first.
The application installation, configuration, and on-going management is done for you as you rent your database, you save all that cost and complexity of infrastructure. And let’s not forget security – Capital One has said publicly that running on AWS is more secure than in its own data centers. Security used to be a cloud blocker, but now it’s a driver. For those companies that “get it.”
So Avoid Dead Bodies and Minefields
Avoid the dead bodies by breaking free from legacy company marketing and your own inertia. Avoid minefields by weaving higher-order cloud services into your business processes and getting out of the infrastructure business. For example, by consuming a database as a service you avoid all the infrastructure costs of people, design, purchase, and maintenance and you get all of the speed and agility. It’s the proverbial business no-brainer, but such disruptive thinking attracts fear, uncertainty and doubt from those with a vested interest in the status quo.
Cloud democratizes the IT industry, giving the best solutions to everyone for the same price, breaking the enterprise IT monopoly. If enterprises still think that they have the monopoly on the best tech, and the best brains, and still need to pay a premium for it, then their IT landscape will continue to be littered with dead bodies and minefields and it will ultimately cause collateral damage to the business.
Posted by Steve Chambers