Over the past few weeks I met with many European folk involved in the ever developing world of Cloud Computing. Specifically at three events, NetApp’s annual Cloud Services Summit in Bonn, the 451 Group’s Hosting & Cloud Transformation Summit. And last week at Amazon Web Services Summit in London. No doubt in my mind that IT in 2013 is more critical and more complex than ever before! That makes any change difficult. IT is also becoming more expensive than ever before. That makes change mandatory. The result has become known as Cloud Computing. Like it or not, it is the future delivery model for IT services. And so continues to be the biggest opportunity / threat that IT organisations of all types are trying to get their head around.
In much of the non-IT media it appears very simple – a shift from old people building complex & expensive IBM, HP machines running expensive Oracle software, to teenagers conquering the world with Amazon and Google from their bedrooms. The reality if you’re an IT professional is of course different. Question most people are trying to answer is - just how different? Maybe a more simple way of starting to answer that question is to think about what Cloud isn’t.……
- Doing what you already do and calling it Cloud Computing. If your IT infrastructure is not agile, pay-per-use, with real-time feedback on costs and measured by service-level, it’s NOT a Cloud strategy. So you won’t get the benefits of Cloud. And you'll probably need to look for a new job quite soon.
- Thinking AWS (Amazon Web Services) solves every IT problem you ever had or will have. This IS Cloud Computing. And Amazon are the clear leaders today in ‘Hyper-scale’, public cloud services. But unless you’re a sole-trading software development company based in Ireland (the only AWS Data Centre in Europe), then it’s unlikely you should put all your eggs in that (or any) one basket.
A strategy, not a product.
Cloud computing is an IT industry trend. Not a product. Or a company. Just happens that it’s likely to be the biggest and most complex trend of the next 5-10 years. So as you build your strategy, it’s important you consider your options. As with any emerging market, segmenting it in a way that everyone agrees with is hard. Ask 10 people for their definition of Cloud Computing and you’ll get 11 answers! I tend to bucket them into……
- Private Cloud. Build a cloud service delivery model to suit your business. Just in your own, or your partner’s data centre. Lots of people are doing this, as the success of FlexPod over the past few years shows. Solutions like vShape from Fujitsu also validate this. And new FlexPod designs are being announced all the time.
- Enterprise ‘Virtual’ Private Cloud Services. Benefit from the economies of sharing infrastructure with other companies. Loads of services are now becoming available. A few good examples I came across recently:
- Andy Eccles, CTO Kelway discussing ServiceWorks , enterprise class services for mid-size organisations
- Jonathan King, VP Global Cloud Services at Savvis, cloud services such as Symphony Database solution, Data Protect Back-up, NAShare
- Public Cloud Services. Use Amazon Web Services – now 7 years old and available in 190 countries. Other options include Microsoft Azure, CloudWatt and regional providers. Hyper-scale. Lowest cost. But with limited flexibility. See here for details of NetApp Private Storage for AWS – our joint solution with Amazon.
The optimal approach for most companies will be a Hybrid of all 3. Cynthia Stoddard, NetApp’s CIO described the resulting change in the role of the CIO at the NetApp Cloud summit. From being all about building infrastructure, towards delivering service agility and business value. The result is NetApp’s hybrid ‘nCloud’ strategy. She explained how she measured its impact & success – better business agility, improved security and increased sales alignment.
So where does a storage and data management company like NetApp fit in? Our job is to provide the most open and agile data infrastructure software, working across on-premise IT / private clouds, enterprise private clouds and the public cloud. And to partner with as many Cloud Computing software options as possible – OpenStack, CloudStack VMware vCloud, Microsoft Private Cloud, AWS and others . So you know that when you buy into a NetApp data storage infrastructure, you know you have the widest range of choices of how you adopt Cloud Computing, so you can make the right choice, together with your trusted partners, about what is best for you and your data at any given point in time.
For more on what’s happening in the Cloud ecosystem – see Tim Waldron’s blog
Some related previous blog posts: