Everything As A Service

Everything-as-a-serviceIt seems like every article you read about technology today includes a service delivered in an ‘-As-A-Service’ approach. We have an abundance of Software-As-A-Service (SaaS), Platform-As-A-Service (PaaS), Communications-As-A-Service (CaaS), Infrastructure-As-A-Service (IaaS) and many other X-aaS systems/platforms. In fact, XaaS is being used to denote the ‘Everything-As-A-Service’ mentality.

The ‘Everything-As-A-Service’ approach is one that makes a great deal of sense. If an organization can decide they need a new platform or a new application they don’t have to undergo a long, drawn-out technology selection project and subsequent implementation project to get the right technology within their data center.

Using XaaS, a company can identify the technology, platform or application they need or want and then simply sign a contract or sign up for service. There’s no need to look at data center sizing, efficiency, utilization rates or power requirements to ensure a new platform can be implemented. There’s no need to spend months trying to integrate a new platform or application with your existing infrastructure (although integrating XaaS can be just as difficult as non-XaaS is).

Regardless of where you might stand on the XaaS model, there’s no denying that the approach provides organizations with the ability to deliver services and systems quickly and efficiently without a large capital outlay to purchase, install and integrate new systems and hardware.

Additionally, the XaaS model allows organizations to build agility into everything they do. From start to finish, everything the IT group does can be agile focused and every project undertaken within the IT group and within the data center can have agility baked into the core of the project.

Another valuable reason to adopt the XaaS approach is that it lets IT group build itself into an “as-a-service” offering. IT as a service is the next generation of IT service to organizations. IT as a service is the model for delivering the right services to the right people at the right time in the right way.

IT as a service is agility personified. With the ‘as-a-service’ approach, the IT group can quickly deliver any application, system, service or platform to the organization in a way that should allow lower costs, better management and more efficient operations when compared to the legacy approach that was focused on data center centric systems and platforms.

I’ve written a bit about the agile data center over the last few months. To build the agile data center, the IT group needs to become agile themselves. To become more agile, the IT group can adopt the XaaS mentality and models to build and manage agility throughout the organization and within the data center.

Is your organization seriously considering the XaaS approach to systems and platforms?

This post is brought to you by Symantec and The Transition To The Agile Data Center.

What is the Cloud…Really?

question markI read a lot of blogs and articles talking about the cloud. Many of these articles try to go really deep into the technology stack found within the cloud while others try to keep the discussions at a very high level.

While reading some of these articles, I realized that there is rarely a basic question asked of readers. I never see anyone take a step back and address one of the basic questions that I always hear from many clients.

I often get asked to explain the cloud. People ask me to tell them what the cloud really is. For some of us that may seem a bit strange since the cloud has been around for so long but there are still plenty of people that don’t really understand the cloud.

Take a second to think about the cloud. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what ‘the cloud’ really is? If you have asked that question of yourself (or your team or organization), what type of answer did you come up with? Is the cloud a technology or is the cloud a platform?

Does it really matter whether you can define the cloud? To be honest, I don’t think it matters whether you or your organization can define the cloud and it doesn’t matter what the technical definition of ‘cloud’ really is.

All you (and your company) need to understand about the cloud is what it can do for your business. Sure, you need to understand the basic concept of the cloud, but you shouldn’t need to define the cloud in technical terms to be able to think strategically (and tactically) about what the cloud can do for your business.

The types of questions you and your organization should be focused are strategically and operationally focused. You should be asked questions like how can your organization build new revenue streams using the cloud’? Can you deliver your services more efficiently and effectively via the cloud? Could you build a more efficient and optimized data center operation using aspects of public, private or hybrid cloud based systems?

I’d assume that the answer to these types of questions are going is a resounding ‘yes’ or at least most of you should be able to answer with a resounding ‘probably.’   The cloud can do a great deal for an organization without the majority of the people within the business really understanding the intricacies of cloud technology.

Back to the original question. What is the cloud…really?

The cloud is a platform (or technology or system) that an organization can use to deliver services to their clients (both internal and external) in a way that allows services to be delivered in the right way at the right time.   It really is as simple as that.

There’s no need to go into any more depth into the cloud or the technologies involved. The technical intricacies can be worked out with the IT group’s technically adept professionals and the technical teams from the vendor (or vendors) that your organization may choose for your cloud deployment.

To those people that ask me to explain the cloud and define the cloud, I normally stay very far away from technical descriptions of the cloud and try to define the cloud in terms of what it can do for a business.

How do you usually define the cloud to your colleagues, organization or clients?

This post is brought to you by the VMware vCloud Air Network.

Use Cases for the Cloud

Cloud Use CasesIf you’ve spent any time within IT over the last few years, you’ve probably heard the term ‘cloud’ more than you really wanted to. The cloud has become something of a buzzword over the years.   Buzzwords are created when a term is overused, and the cloud has been overused quite a bit in many organizations. It seems that any time a problem arises, the first solution is to use ‘the cloud’.

IT professionals are usually the first to scoff at buzzwords, mainly because their experiences have shown that buzzwords generally mean more work for them with very little value gained for the organization. That said, when it comes to the cloud, these same folks who turn up their nose at most buzzwords are often the first to look toward the cloud as a solution to their problems because they know that the cloud has generally lived up to the buzz.

The problem with any type of technology buzz is that most people within an organization don’t really understand the ‘use cases’ for that technology. They hear everyone else talking about it just assume it is a platform or system that will work for them.

With this in mind, I wanted to take a second to highlight what I think are the ideal use cases for the cloud. These may not be your ideal use cases (and if they aren’t, I’d love to hear what yours are) but they are what I’ve found work best for me and my clients.

Use Cases for the Cloud

In my experiences, there are five main use cases for the cloud. While there may be some overlap in some of these use cases, they are about as high-level as I can make them. The use cases are:

  • Disaster Recovery – The cloud makes perfect sense for disaster recovery. It gives an organization an almost instantaneous redundant backup and recovery solution.
  • Data Center Extension / Expansion / Replacement – Many organizations are in the midst of data center transformation projects. These projects include expanding, optimizing and even replacing their data centers. In many instances, the cloud has been driving much of these transformation projects by giving organizations the ability to quickly add capabilities to aging data centers.
  • Development & Test Environments – The cloud makes it very easy to turn on new development and test environments.
  • Enterprise Modernization – Modernization is a fairly large issue in some organizations. They’ve allowed their data centers and other aspects of their infrastructure to grow old and, because of this, they’re often unable to quickly deliver new services and solutions for their clients and groups within the business. The cloud allows an organization to modernize and prepare for the future fairly easily and cost-effectively.
  • New System Development – If an organization needs to build a new application or system from the ground up, the cloud is usually at the top of the list for the ‘where’ that app or system will be built.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the use cases for the cloud.

This post is brought to you by the VMware vCloud Air Network.

Does your Disaster Recovery Plan Include the Cloud?

Disaster Recovery and the CloudIn years past, companies have relied on multiple data center locations to act as their main disaster recovery (DR) systems and data in case of disaster. This has generally worked well for those companies that have planned and tested their DR systems and plans appropriately.

In recent years organizations have been looking for more robust solutions for disaster recovery than storing their data in separate data centers. With the growth in popularity, functionality and capabilities of cloud technology and cloud vendors, CIO’s and IT Managers began to investigate the use of public, private and hybrid cloud systems for disaster recovery solutions.

It’s taken a while for many companies to feel comfortable with the cloud as a platform that is an integral part of their business systems, but most CIO’s and IT professionals have come to terms with the capabilities and impact of cloud technology. While secondary sites still dominate the disaster recovery planning for organizations, cloud deployment of disaster recovery solutions continues to grow. With a cloud DR deployment, companies can ensure geographic diversity for their data and cloud DR can allow a company to use multiple cloud vendors to ensure diversity of networks and systems for building a very robust disaster recovery plan.

Cloud-based disaster recovery makes a lot of sense, but there are still plenty of people worried about moving to the cloud for their DR. Many people get hung up on a few old myths (e.g., downtime doesn’t cost that much, disaster recovery means long-term contracts,  etc) that keep them from moving their disaster recovery systems and plans to the cloud while others believe their on-premise DR systems and plans will work just fine.

Cloud-based DR can provide an enormous amount of value to an organization. In the event of a disaster, a cloud-based system can help a company recover quickly and efficiently. Not only can data be stored safely and reliably in the cloud but systems and applications can be replicated in the cloud to allow the organization to bring their systems online quickly after a disaster.

Many clients that I work with have cloud-based disaster recovery systems in place or they’ve put them on their roadmap for the coming years. They’ve been able to look past the myths about the cloud and cloud-based DR and see the value. They see the benefits of the cloud for disaster recovery and have started shifting their disaster recovery planning and budget initiatives to the cloud.

From my experiences talking with CIO’s and other IT leaders, there’s quite a lot of interest in cloud technology these days. Many companies are looking at cloud-based disaster recovery for their next iteration of disaster recovery. Thankfully, people are starting to move past the concerns and myths about the cloud and are seeing it for what it is: a great platform for building agile, flexible and cost-effective solutions for their business.

What about your organization? Does your disaster recovery plan include the cloud?

This post is brought to you by the VMware vCloud Air Network.

The Cloud – Gateway to Enterprise Mobility

This post is brought to you by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP’s Make It Matter.

cloud-diagramCan you remember what it was like to do your job ten years ago? For the most part, you were stuck to your desk and most likely using your large desktop computer with a very large CRT monitor. If you were lucky, you might have received a laptop that let you move around the office and/or travel for business and drag along your lightweight laptop. Of course, these lightweight laptops weren’t really that lightweight but they did let you know work away from the office whenever you needed to. Lastly, those that were really lucky might have a blackberry device to keep on top of their email.

The world of mobile ten years ago was one that was mobile, but wasn’t. Sure you could get away from your desk but you weren’t always able to do everything you needed to.   The security issues that existed were fairly minor. Companies setup virtual private networks (VPN’s) to allow access to the company systems from outside the firewall. Access via blackberry devices were fairly secure and straightforward. Access other than VPN or blackberry was generally unavailable outside the office. There was rarely thought given to other mobile devices other mobile access and very rarely the capability for employees to bring their own devices into the corporate environment and network.

Today, mobility is much different in most organizations. Laptops are more than ubiquitous and people are regularly working from inside and outside the organization’s firewall. In addition to laptops, tablets and smartphones are almost as ubiquitous throughout organizations today with many being personal devices brought into the organization from employees.

IT operations and security have their hands full with the various mobile devices and mobility requirements placed upon them by the wants and needs of the organization. Many organizations have mobility solutions and systems on their ‘to do’ list to ensure mobility is implemented in a way that allows the organization to meet their goals and objectives.

According to a recent report by IDG Research, 54% of organizations have a mobility strategy and have begun some form of implementation while 38% of companies are currently formulating a mobility strategy. Those are fairly good numbers that show most companies have identified mobility as a key issue for the future and are trying to address it head on. While these companies seem to have a strategy and implementation plans, both need to be flexible during and after implementation to incorporate new technologies and systems.

One of the main focus points for mobility strategies for organizations should be the cloud. The cloud is a game-changer when it comes to mobility strategy and implementations. The cloud can help off-load already over-burned data centers and IT systems as well as helping to make the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) paradigm a reality with very little overhead within the organization.

Enterprise mobility is a necessity for organizations today, tomorrow and into the future. Using the cloud to help facilitate mobility is a no-brainer today as it allows for mobility to exist from the very beginning of the system lifecycle.   With proper planning, the cloud can bring the ultimate mobility to an organization while still provide great data security and data access from anywhere in the world.

How well is your organization planning for mobility within your enterprise?

This post is brought to you by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP’s Make It Matter.


Optimizing your Data Center with the Cloud

Tcloud-computinghis post is brought to you by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP’s Make It Matter.

Most organizations today have some type of cloud implementation and/or service.  Every organization views the cloud a little differently than any other organization. Some view the cloud as a place to store data while others view the cloud as a replacement for their data center.   Some companies are using the cloud to handle low priority workloads for non-critical systems while others are using the cloud for mission critical work that requires extremely high availability.

Integration with the cloud is a no-brainer for most organizations today since just about any size company can find value in the cloud.  Regardless of how an organization views or uses the cloud, there is no question that every organization can find a way to make the cloud a part of daily data center operations.

Whether your organization views the cloud as a ‘backup’ system or a ‘primary’ system, there’s value to be found in the cloud as a platform to assist with optimizing the data center.   There are many demands being placed on the data center today.  There’s an enormous amount of data coming into the data center along with demands to store and process that data. In addition to the amount of data hitting the data center today, there are many forecasts for exponential growth in data with the Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives underway in many organizations.

The data center today is different than the data center of ten years ago. The requirements of the data center today are similar than in previous years but the pace of change is dramatically faster. Running a data center the same way as it was run ten years ago will not and cannot work today. The data center must be able to be just as agile (if not more agile) than the business itself it it hopes to keep up with the speed of business in the future.

This is where the cloud comes into play. Rather than continually try to upgrade and update systems and platforms within the data center, organizations can look to the cloud as a means to maintain an efficient and cost-effective data center capability that is also agile and flexible.

The great thing about the cloud is that it can be different things to different companies. Your organization could move your mission critical applications to the cloud to ensure high availability and agility while keeping your legacy systems chugging along within your data center.  Conversely, you could move your non-critical systems to the cloud to open up the data center to handle your more important and more mission critical systems.

The way your company uses the cloud is up to you.You could build your own private cloud, use a public cloud or use a combination of the two with a hybrid cloud solution. The cloud brings a lot of flexibility to your organization and allows you to optimize your data center to ensure it (and the cloud) can deliver what your organization needs today and tomorrow.

This post is brought to you by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP’s Make It Matter.

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