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Tag Archive: cloud strategy

  1. Top-down vs. Bottom-up Approaches to Moving to Cloud

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    Many companies and government agencies adopt a “top-down” approach in setting IT policy, making sure technology is secure before approving it for organization-wide use. Some, conversely, employ a “bottom-up” approach, allowing individuals and offices to innovate, and then adopting those experiments that have successful results to improve the organization-wide technology infrastructure.

    Which is better? Or are both needed? How do you choose an approach to moving to cloud?

    Top-Down

    In the early 2000s, in the wake of the Internet Bubble bursting, the influence of the CIO skyrocketed as they took steps to control costs. Using strategies that were sometimes called “ruthless standardization,” edicts would come from the C-suite about what combinations of technologies could be used in IT. We heard pronouncements like “Thou shalt not use LAMP stacks but instead Java Web applications with Oracle (NewsAlert) databases.”

    The good news about top-down driven technology decisions is that they tend to be cost-effective. With the CIO behind them, pricing from the major technology vendors, cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service companies here, is usually excellent. The bad news is that they are typically limiting when it comes to innovation. If the CIO decrees that you can only use Oracle databases, for example, you may miss out on the NoSQL trend that opened up a completely new way of thinking about data management. At the beginning of the 21st century, that happened more frequently than people tend to remember.

    What lessons can we learn from the top-down technology decisions of the past when examining cloud adoption? The key to a good top-down approach is flexibility. Technology changes too quickly to rely completely on five-year licensing agreements, but without them costs can spiral out of control. A Cloud First strategy doesn’t mean Cloud Only strategy. Rather, it gives development teams a starting point they can argue out of if they can prove alternatives are more beneficial.

    Bottom-Up

    On the flip side of the coin is a bottom-up approach, where executives rely exclusively on developers to push innovations up the chain of command. In the late 1990s, agile development methodologies were a good example of this. Frustrated with waterfall methods that were standard at the time, and which relied on long release cycles with all requirements being specified before any code was written, developers flocked to a very different paradigm where minimum viable products were built and then iterated over many, much shorter releases. This eventually led to the DevOps and Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery approaches that are commonplace today.

    Innovation can spring more easily from a bottom-up approach, but it often takes time for what can be competing alternatives to emerge with a winner. And what works for one part of a business may not for another, given contextual differences. For example, should a particular team use Amazon Web Services (NewsAlert) or Microsoft Azure for its public cloud hosting? Ask 10 different development teams this question and you’ll likely get a split vote, with teams basing their opinions on specific features they need that only one vendor provides, or a geographically more advantageous data center that one development team needs but others do not.

    Why Both Are Needed

    In reality, a little bit of both approaches is needed. An executive might make a declaration like what the U.S. CIO did in 2014 for federal agencies with the Cloud First strategy. In other words, having a default position set by upper management but setting criteria under which another technology choice can be made by development teams is the way to go.

    That might mean that the CIO selects (and gets great pricing on) one private cloud and one to two public clouds on which development teams are allowed to deploy workloads as the top-down portion of an approach. But within those clouds, let development teams use whatever derivative services each cloud vendor might provide, along with whatever open source they would like, including making use of more cutting edge technologies like containers or Function-as-a-Service. This gives the bottom-up approach some room to grow innovation, but with some guiderails set by the top-down edict that controls costs without stifling creativity.

    This blog originally appeared on The Cloud Computing Magazine

     

  2. A Successful Multi-Cloud Strategy Depends On One Thing: Simplicity

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    Companies are adopting the cloud at an unprecedented rate. In a recent report by Dimensional Research, of 650 global IT professionals, 91 percent will deploy a new workload to cloud this year; 77 percent will deploy to multiple clouds; 45 percent will deploy cloud-based apps to co-lo providers.

    Clearly, decision makers are no longer talking about a single hybrid cloud solution where their datacenter is linked to one public cloud. They’re adopting a multi-cloud solution.

    What’s driving the trend?

    Simply put, it’s the needs of the business. Recent quotes from a couple of IT executives shed light on this:

     “I want to be able to tell our business units, ‘If you want to stand up services on the NBC private cloud, go ahead. We have the technologies and the operating processes to do that. And when it’s time to move appropriate workloads to a public cloud, we have the technologies and the operational processes to do that too.’”

    – Eric Craig, CTO, NBC Universal

    “My goal for hybrid cloud infrastructure is to provide a “brokerage service” for IT functions such as server provisioning and application provisioning. We want to not only provide internal services on demand, but the flexibility to move in and out of the cloud down the road. How do I make internal services as flexible as an AWS or Azure? How do I make our business look at us like a service?”

    Paul Reyes, Vice President of IT I&O, Energy Future Holdings

    IT wants to be a strategic partner with the business. They want to offer flexibility to meet changing business needs. Call it IT-as-a-Service. Call it hybrid cloud. Or, just call it multi-cloud. Whatever you call it, the key is that we want solutions that are best “fit for purpose,” considering various business needs. No single approach will meet all needs, hence the multi-cloud strategy.

    I’ve said before that we’re still in the early stages of the cloud game. It’s a complex, evolving competition whose rules seem to change from inning to inning. IT executives want to offer IT services that are a best fit for their business needs. One thing is certain in the cloud game: cloud strategies and IT service offerings will change over time. If you have a 5-part cloud strategy, 2 of those 5 parts will likely change in the next 18 months. Having the flexibility to shift strategy, do and then undo to meet changing business needs without lock-in and without penalty when you change your mind is what we need. That is what will win the game in the cloud era.

    It Gets Complicated

    Flexibility and ability to change is great in concept. But complexity gets in the way.

    Let’s say you start simple. You move a couple applications to AWS to leverage their global IaaS. But then you have various user roles that need access. Dev needs access, but production doesn’t want developers to have access once the workload moves to production. Then maybe you add multiple accounts on that cloud – one for the project office for strategic projects and another for production. Project office has a fixed annual budget, where production is pay per use. Perhaps workloads get spread across a couple availability zones. Then, perhaps you have another BU that wants to use a different cloud for their work.

    You get the picture. Even if you start with one application moved to the public cloud, you need to think about where this is likely headed.

    NTT Communications published a survey of nearly 1,600 Information and Communications Technology decision makers in Europe and the U.S. Forty-one percent of respondents said managing multiple cloud vendors is confusing. The same percentage also said moving complex applications was, “more trouble than it’s worth.” But at the same time, 90 percent of decision-makers say their most important applications will move to the cloud.

    There’s no doubt about it – businesses need a way to leverage the power and benefit of the cloud, while managing the operational risk. I’m not talking about cloud security. I’m talking about the challenge that comes from managing multiple applications, on multiple clouds, with multiple groups of users, and multiple accounts and financial control plans, with various cost reporting requirements.

    Simplify

    Organizations need consistency when it comes to multi-cloud. That consistency needs to start with cloud management.

    For the foreseeable future, any IT strategy that involves using public cloud should consider cloud-agnostic tools. Management and orchestration tools should not be tied to any particular cloud. They should also provide companies with the ability to manage applications with a common level of visibility and control across platforms, as well as manage users, and cloud accounts, and billing plans.

    So what should organizations look for in a multi-cloud tool? I have to agree with David Linthicum of InfoWorld.com: public cloud management should be decoupled from any specific public cloud provider. You don’t want to replace internal management silos (network, storage, compute) with public cloud IaaS, and then create new management silos (one for Amazon Web Services team and tools, one for VMware, one for Microsoft etc.)

    It’s complicated – but doesn’t have to be hard

    For a long time, I’ve championed the advantages of a federated cloud strategy. It’s why I think CliQr CloudCenter is the best multi-cloud management platform out there. CloudCenter is a single platform designed to deploy and manage application stacks on any supported cloud. Currently it can manage applications on more than 15+ datacenters, private cloud and public cloud environments.

    It is application-centric, unlike many infrastructure-centric cloud management platforms. It’s a combination of cloud agonistic application profile, with cloud-specify orchestrator, making it fast and easy to model, migrate, and manage applications without changing the application, without cloud-specific scripting, and new management silos. On top of that, it deploys full application stacks in a way that preserves portability.

    More importantly, CloudCenter gives organizations a consistent base for their clouds to work off of. And when you have consistency across a multi-cloud architecture, you have the basis for a winning strategy.

  3. One Cloud: Good Assumption?

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    “Having a datacenter seamlessly extended to a single public cloud offering is an interesting idea. But a “One cloud” approach isn’t going to fit the reality of where the industry is headed.”  Gaurav Maglik, CEO CliQr Technologies (more…)

  4. Cloud Strategy Brief: CliQr CEO Gaurav Manglik

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    To be a strategic partner with the business, IT needs to focus their cloud strategy on the applications that deliver the business value; not the infrastructure. Easier said than done. Or is it? Lets talk to the experts and find out…
    (more…)

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