Let’s discuss ITaaS rather than IaaS vs. PaaS

imageWhether or not the infrastructure teams know it, almost all business development teams have investigated or are actively working with a Public Cloud provider to spin up new app / dev environments outside of IT control.  This “Shadow IT” is becoming pervasive and on the surface represents a clear and present danger to the relevance of IT to the business.  At a deaper level IT will always be vital to the Enterprise as the broker of IT services (whether public or private), security / risk / availability / compliance manager (governance), and as a strategic consultant to help the business map to emerging technological capabilities (consulting).

imageIT must Transform into managing itself as a business to become more agile to deploy service, become easier to do business with, and bring the brokerage, governance and consulting benefits.  This way it will compete successfully against Shadow IT by offering the needed agility the Business requires.  IT will need a new Business Model focused on
delivering the service of application hosting (not just boxes, switches, and bodies)
being market driven, first listening to their customers, then building solutions to meet their needs
focusing on Profit & Loss to measure efficiency of delivery and value of offerings
brokering service across internal services or Public external cloud services while maintaining control and knowledge of which data assets reside in each environment
The enabling technology already exists for the most part.  Public Cloud is great and has its purpose to fulfill Business needs, but should be governed by IT policy, not done in the “shadows.”  Other workloads are a better fit for the resiliency and security risk mitigation of Private Cloud infrastructures.  Over the next few years all Enterprise it shops will be managing a Hybrid Cloud comgining the most cost effective elements of Public and Private systems to conduct their business.

imageThis transformation is as much about People and Processes as it is about new technologies.  IT will need “front office” sales and product management capabilities to sell its own services to the internal business customers.  New roles to build and report on service level compliance are important to show value to the business and maintain operational control.  IT also needs to maintain presence with an Office of the CTO help Business users stay on top of emerging trends and capabilities.

Iaas or Paas isn’t as relevant to Enterprise IT shops as “IT as a Service” (ITaaS).  It’s much more important that IT itself can transform into a service level integrated cloud broker priced as a consumed service under GRC management rather than whether Iaas or Paas is the proper development stack for any given business unit.  If IT runs itself aaS, it is capable of making the proper technology decisions for any new need that emerges.

So what does the Hybrid Cloud model look like?  First and most obviously, it does include a standardized infrastructure Private Cloud combined with Public Cloud services.  The integration and federation between them is best accomplished with products like VMware’s vFabric Connector that allows deployment across infrastructure providers.  Leveraging virtualization the orchestration and security compliance features can be implemented. 

imageLegacy apps are containerized and run on the virtualized hybrid infrastructure.  “Next Gen” apps are SaaS purchased or developed specifically for PaaS, preferably against a common framework like Cloud Foundry which allows deployment against internal or external scale out PaaS with data and app mobility across different PaaS providers.  Let’s not forget too, the presentation of all of these apps to the next generation of user access devices, mobile, tablets, and PC’s, and provide credentialed user access to the various Hybrid Cloud assets on any device from anywhere.

So where is your IT organization?  Can you effectively present a web based services catalog that offers your internal business customers a competitively priced monthly consumption rate model of various services?  Does that model measure itself against public providers?  Do you have an internal IT sales team that promotes IT consumption to the business, or does IT hoard a scarce technology resource pool fearing the business will grow?  Is your IT org an effective consultant to your business users about emerging capabilities?  Let’s chat!

Silicon Valley IT vs Enterprise IT

Recently @RFFlores recently posted an excellent article describing the difference he sees in “Silicon Valley PaaS” and “Enterprise PaaS” when thinking about what comes after a foundational IaaS. 

imageHe points out that “while enterprises do release new apps, the vast majority of their effort is expended on evolving the current applications that run their business,” and “the level of standardization dictated by Silicon Valley PaaS isn’t realistic for most large companies.”  Go read his article for more on this. 

I’d like to extend that thinking into the nature and differences of IT as a whole within the two euphemistic categories, “Silicon Valley IT” and “Enterprise IT.”  The Clouderati are in many ways talking past the ITIListas.  They live in separate worlds, and as we’ll see have differing resources and methodologies.  The methods of the Clouderati are proper for that world, and the methods of the ITIListas are proper for theirs.  The real question is in what form will new ideas in Service Management govern the transition from these two emerging extremes into a hybrid IT operational model.

Silicon Valley IT is characterized by several key assumptions that make the hyper standardized Clouderati rhetoric work well:

  • The Business is the technology / data and not just supported by it.  Business processes, customer engagement, the product for sale, and the distribution model are all inextricably tied to one another through the application(s) built to run across the internet.
  • There are 1’s of hyper standardized scale out infrastructures required to be supported.  The zealous drive to drive out cost ensures that everything runs on a single infrastructure model.  This infrastructure could be private cloud (Facebook) or public cloud (Netflix) or a hybrid of both.  The infrastructure is built and ready (or provisioned from the Public Cloud on demand) for new projects to leverage and reuse.
  • Apps are developed in house as scale out web services to take advantage of the scale out infrastructure.  All applications must necessarily conform to the scale out model of processing, are generally x86 based, leverage modest scale up in terms of # of cores and amount of memory, etc.
  • The tight linkage between the Business and the Technology produces a DevOps group that scales out as the infrastructure grows.  The classic example (can that term be used?) is Netflix that has gone to a DevOps model where each business unit creates and manages their own piece of the loosely coupled production application set.

Enterprise IT is characterized by several opposing assumptions that make the hyper standardized cloud rhetoric nearly impossible to achieve for an ITILista:

  • The Business processes were developed prior to the technology revolution, and IT is used to augment or support them.  The business deals with objects or people in the “real world” and is dependent on many factors outside the realm of software. 
  • There are 10’s to 100’s of very distinct and customized infrastructure silos required by COTS software vendors.  IT is seen as a cost center, and funding is provided on a project by project basis often without regard for leveraging existing assets purchased outside the project budget.  New infrastructure stacks are architected, built, and run to support every major new initiative.
  • Apps are as often purchased and customized as developed in house. They may run on different CPU architectures, require wholly different CPU / Memory / Storage / Network resources, and require a significant systems integration capability to function with other systems.
  • There is a ship-load of skillsets, MBO’s, metrics, and goals that have been developed to manage the diversity of platforms required.  That ship is indeed hard to turn.

Look for future posts exploring how the various cloud players are looking to transform ITSM into simply Service Management of Hybrid Public + Private technology services.

Enterprise Cloud Adoption Waiting on Mobile App Development

imagePrivate, Public, and Hybrid Cloud adoption in Enterprise IT will largely emerge hand in hand with the development of web based or mobile based apps to replace traditional “brick and mortar” hardware stacks and legacy apps. After operational cost savings, “enterprise agility,” and “IT bringing value to the business” are often cited as justifications for Enterprise IT shops moving to a Cloud model. I support the point that IT needs to become more agile in support of the Business, and possibly this provides value, but agility gets to the point of this post: that Cloud adoption is hard on the people and process side of IT, and if adoption of Cloud appears slow in the traditional Enterprise, it may be due to the Business not yet driving the need. I submit Cloud adoption is stalling waiting on Enterprise Mobile app development.

Transformation takes two forms: Revolution and Evolution.

Revolution comes to Enterprise IT in two forms: revolutionary thinking by a strong C-Level executive sponsor and/or a visionary new business model driving new IT requirements. Big Data analytics may fall into the revolutionary category, but only time will tell. Revolutions seem to happen within individual IT shops, not generally to the industry as a whole.

Evolution in IT happens much more pervasively, without a compelling event, and as IT assets age and are replaced. The shift happening today is to replace traditional Distributed Systems and PC interfaces with Cloud infrastructures and Mobile interfaces.

It’s the transition from the PC Age to the Mobile Age that will herald Cloud adoption in Enterprise IT. As major software vendors develop mobile interfaces and as the Business develops new applications with better customer engagement, achieving the value of making data visible to web mashups, mobile workforces, and end customers on a global scale will require a scale-out capable infrastructure to support it.