Why Cloud is Traditional IT’s Ice-Age!
I get asked a lot by customers, “What is the big deal about cloud computing?”. It’s a totally fair question, given that most of the information about cloud computing has been about the potential market and revenue from cloud adoption. But that doesn’t go a great deal towards why it’s a good thing for companies to adopt.
There are three things that cloud, or the era of cloud, brings to the table that enables a vision of what I call the fully-automated Enterprise. The three key factors are:
- Business Function Integration
You need all of these things to achieve a fully-automated Enterprise via the cloud. Here’s why.
Virtualization only gets you part way there, in that, with virtualization, you can abstract the underlying resources away from the allocator, which is good because you can deal gracefully with failures, capacity demands, hot-spots, etc. But virtualization still requires a person to manage the request part, and identify how the virtual resources hang-together. This is not how consumers think, and it’s the biggest threat to traditional IT organizations. Consumers now think in terms of business function, or workloads, so rather than saying, “I need two SQL Servers and 10TB of storage”, they say, “I need to onboard two new employees”.
So automation becomes really important, because if you can’t map a resource set to a workload, and spin that up automagically, you can rapidly and efficiently respond to changing conditions and needs. Automation really supports the concept if self-service, which is a core part of a fully-automated Enterprise. It enables the business stakeholder to determine when and what they need, and not be concerned with how it happens. This is critical.
But this still implies the user/consumer/stakeholder has to perform some IT/systems specific action, such as, “I am onboarding two new employees, and I need two email accounts, access to the finance and ERP system, etc.”. This is generally additive to an existing core onboarding process. What is critical in the fully-automated Enterprise is the concept that the automated workload provisioning/management process is fully integrated into the business function. So, when you start the new employee onboarding workflow, part of the process contacts the main controller, assesses if this new set of employees can be supported by the current IT resources allocated, and if not, adjusts the resources to meet the demand, and integrates with other systems, such as charge-back systems for internal billing, etc.
This is where cloud in the Enterprise really makes sense. It changes the traditional conversation between the business and IT, from an “get me some boxes and install some software” to a “I need to respond to this business need”. Also, it helps abstract away allot of the minutia and detail from the user/consumer, so they can focus on doing business. And finally, it forces IT to become more agile, and to compete with commodity providers, because once customers start moving their critical workloads to true SaaS providers, where they are paying based on subscription or consumption, and their data is more secure and available than the SLA provided to them by IT, you’ll quickly see the full demise of IT orgs as we know it.
So there you have it. Embrace cloud, convert your Enterprise to be fully-automated, start thinking business function/service integration and not asset and resource management, and you’re going to survive the next IT ice-age!