Virtualization Technology News and Information
Embotics: 2012 Prediction - IT, Management to Agree on Meaning of "Cloud"


What do Virtualization and Cloud executives think about 2012? Find out in this series exclusive.

2012 Prediction - IT, Management to Agree on Meaning of "Cloud"

Contributed 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.

A disconnect between CIOs and CEOs

IT administrators 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 private cloud.

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.

With 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.

In 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 investments.

10 steps toward a common cloud understanding

If 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.  
  3. 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.  
  4. 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 others.
  5. 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.
  6. Be mindful of the chief executives interest in speedy returns. Be ready to discuss deployment schedules and return on investment timeframes.
  7. 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 customers.
  8. 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). 
  9. 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).
  10. 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.

In 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

Jason Cowie, 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 Victoria.

Published Thursday, December 22, 2011 5:01 PM by David Marshall
Comments - Virtualization Technology News and Information for Everyone - (Author's Link) - January 4, 2012 7:06 AM

I'd like to personally welcome each and every one of you to the start of 2012! As we begin what will certainly prove to be a fantastic new year, I wanted to make sure to thank all of the loyal member's and readers of Once again, with the help

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