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2012 Prediction - IT, Management to Agree on Meaning of "Cloud"
Article by Jason
Cowie, VP of product management for Embotics
The Merriam-Webster dictionary has five definitions
for the word "cloud." None of them apply to IT, but the variability between "a
visible mass of particles of condensed vapor" and "something that obscures or
blemishes" is instructive to anyone working in the data center. In the past
year, everyone was talking about "the cloud," but what was understood by that
term differed depending on whether your desk was in the IT department or in the
corner office. In 2012, that will change. IT administrators and management will
begin to agree on what the term "cloud" means to them, and the result will be a
clearer path forward to business-wide benefits.
disconnect between CIOs and CEOs
often roll their eyes when someone says the word "cloud." Many have heard it
from end users who have an "obscured or blemished" idea of its meaning, while
others say they get asked to "deliver a cloud" with no further description of
what that could mean. In certain cases, this request comes into IT departments
that have already been delivering - on demand, real time infrastructure for
years and while under a different name, fundamentally is the same concept of a
A majority of executives and IT staff
now claim to understand the cloud, but there is a wide chasm between what chief
information officers and CEOs report that understanding to be. Today, CIOs
not only understand private clouds and the benefits associated with agility and
automation,, they are also actively trying to sell it internally to their CEOs
and chief financial officers. To achieve this, CIOs are learning to think like
company leaders, and the result will be a common understanding of what the
cloud is and what it can do for businesses.
the introduction of x86 virtualization several years ago, CIOs and IT teams at
the time had to evangelize and sell organizational leaders on the broad range
of benefits. Virtualization was on the IT must-have list back then and came
with a significant CAPEX investment, and it required CEO backing . To get
sign-off on that first step toward the private cloud, IT leaders had to
demonstrate to their bosses that virtualization meant increased flexibility,
agility and cost savings. The internal sales pitch on private cloud deployments
is similar. The CIO has learned to sell the CEO not on an "infrastructure"
investment, but on a strategic initiative that drives down costs, improves
customer service, and provides a competitive advantage.
the past, the misunderstandings over the term "cloud" have hampered its
adoption. When the CEO and IT differ in their understandings of priorities and
deliverables, it often created tension that inhibited progress. Cloud creation
requires people, processes and technology. Process re-engineering,
aligning business goals with IT objectives, and ensuring the right people are
in place are requirements, not luxuries. In 2012, more companies will
demonstrate their understanding of this fact, as they embrace a pragmatic path
toward a true private cloud. As IT and business leaders come together to see
the same cloud vision, there will be fewer fears from the corner office that
cloud requests from the data center will mean ripping and replacing recent
10 steps toward a
common cloud understanding
your company hasn't yet come to consensus on what the cloud means and the
benefits it provides, there are several steps that you can take to increase
awareness and understanding. These include:
- Seek out the advice of cloud analysts,
media, and vendors, and cull that input for tips that speak to pure IT business
agility. Make the business paybacks clear.
- Evaluate and analyze your virtualized data
center, processes, and people to understand where you are today, and where you
want to be tomorrow. If process
improvement, agility and operational efficiency are important, the cloud most
likely has an important role to play.
- Consider what you will need to best
operationalize a cloud for your specific organizational needs, and set that out
from your first discussion about cloud deployment. Ideally, this process starts with a specific
department or workload (dev/QA/test) to help prevent scope creep.
- Get specific about what a private cloud
is and what it should include. Discuss components such as self service
management and provisioning, service catalogs, showback & IT chargeback and
- Be realistic about long-term needs for
automation and management. Bring up the reasons why self-service management, increased
quality of service delivery, resource optimization, and improved operational
efficiency matter to a successful cloud implementation.
- Be mindful of the chief executives
interest in speedy returns. Be ready to discuss deployment schedules and return
on investment timeframes.
- Go into meetings with the CEO with
solutions that deliver critical private cloud computing competencies quickly
and effectively in order to deliver real time infrastructure as a service to
- Illustrate that private cloud
initiatives can become strategic business enablers by providing a competitive
‘edge' in the ‘time, speed, and cost' it takes to deliver infrastructure on
demand. Be prepared to measure and quantify the savings (how long did it take
before, how long will it take after).
- Speak in executive terms. Discuss the benefits of a showback and
costing model, and what it would look like. Private cloud deployments should not
only enable companies to implement showback and chargeback, but also help them
monitor and curb consumption for IT resources. This leads to more
accountability over infrastructure investments (CAPEX and OPEX) and ultimately a
lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
- Define Service Level Agreements and
project goals that are quantifiable, measurable, and realistic. Hold yourself accountable and only evaluate
management and automation solutions that allow you to realize your goals in a
realistic timeframe. Missing deadlines
and not maintaining SLAs is one way to ensure any future cloud initiative is
put on permanent hold.
2012, IT administrators, IT management and C-level executives will start to
agree on a common set of needs in their environments. This agreed-upon
definition of what the cloud is and what it can do for business will move the
perception of the term from hype to reality. Instead of just talking about
cloud or debating what it means, organizations will instead be able to
demonstrate operationalized private clouds that move business forward.
About the Author
Vice President Product Management
Jason Cowie is the Vice President Product Management at
Embotics and oversees product direction and strategy. Previously, Jason was the
General Manager at EMC responsible for the Server Management business, and
played a key role in the acquisition of Configuresoft. While at Configuresoft,
Jason served as Vice President of Product Management helping secure
Configuresoft as the industry leader in security and configuration management.
Jason's extensive management background spans sales, business development, consulting,
and product marketing at various companies including Microsoft, Scalable
Software, and Mission Critical Software (merged with NetIQ in 2000). He
received his Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, and
completed graduate studies in Information Technology at the University of