Tagged: cloud

Am I an IT Dinosaur?


image courtesy http://flickr.com/photos/rooners on flickr

I’ve been spending a lot of time with customers lately as well as people who have an opinion how service providers can serve their customers better.  I need a reality check from someone, anyone, because I’m hearing two seemingly conflicting messages.

Let me set the stage.  We’re talking about the solutions that enterprise customers who have some internal application development and quite a few enterprise applications and workloads.

From vendors: “Our customers need a solution that is competitive with AWS.  It needs to be developer centric where people can spin up instances and deploy to the cloud using services like scalable database (RDS), load balancing (ELB), and autoscaling.”

From customers: “We need to have a cloud offering.  But does it integrate with our federated authentication and authorization?  We need guaranteed IOPs.  Can we isolate networks?  Can we have custom SNMP monitoring?  Can we deploy our own images?  Can we do this with bare metal as well as a virtualized IaaS platform?  What logging data can we get for our audits?  Can we restrict access to the provisioning portal from other tenants?  Can we also isolate storage or do turn-key data-at-rest encryption?  Can we control the keys?  Can we deploy our own network appliances or load balancing tools?  Is there an option for U.S. 24×7 support only?  Oh by the way, this needs to be cheap, pay by the drink and competitive with AWS.”

Here’s where I’m confused.  A friend and colleague, Greg Alheim (absent from the blogosphere and social media because he’s too busy solving complicated “My-mess-for-less-but-give-me-an-f’ing-cloud” issues for customers coined the term “quadracorn” for me.  I realized, Mr. Customer, you’re asking me for a quadracorn.  Yes.  You’re asking me for a unicorn with four horns and we’re almost up to eight horns.  You’re asking me for a octocorn.  But at this point I think I’m turning into someone who can’t program a VCR or some other outmoded form of technology.  I’m questioning if I really understand what will help a customer trying to modernize IT. 

When I was at Joyent I thought I came to this realization that new “cloud” technology like PaaS and very simple IaaS was where service providers needed to focus their efforts if they wanted to capture a lot of revenue.  The reality I thought I discovered was that the same reality existed in enterprise IT that did back when I was an end-user.  It’s a complicated morass of legacy systems and governance that won’t go away and still occupy the bulk of IT spending.  But… Many if not most of the conversations I have these days seem to end with the comparison to AWS.

So what do enterprise customers want?  Why do I focus on them?  Because my impression is that they spend a lot of money and time worrying about legacy IT and how to manage it better, not just deploy some shared-nothing new application architecture.

Where would you focus your efforts as a vendor?  Are enterprise IT departments asking for an octocorn?  Look… I know legacy stuff isn’t all shiny and new.  It’s not “cool”, but a business isn’t just in the business of “cool”.  They can’t throw away existing acquisitions, systems, people, and processes that they’ve accumulated over the years.  Am I a dinosaur?  What would you do?

Kentucky KAMP GIS 2010 Summit Keynote

I had the opportunity to deliver a keynote on “Cloud Computing and the Public Sector” late last week to 225 GIS (Geographic Information Systems) professionals in Frankfort, Kentucky.  Trisha Brush was kind enough to invite me after we met at CloudCamp Cincinnati.  I tried to keep it at a high level but then drill down to some particular use cases.  I also tried to deal with some of the sticky issues like governance and compliance.

The two points I emphasized during the keynote are:

  1. The Cloud is an enabler.  It lowers the cost of entry for disruptive technology.  A use case example is using Elastic Map Reduce to solve huge problems we can’t easily or inexpensively solve today with traditional enterprise methods.
  2. GIS and mapping are extremely relevant these days. As admins, directors and users, they should work with developers  to create innovative mashup-style apps.  This can help disseminate information to wide masses or create revenue streams from a constituent and commercial perspective.

You can find the keynote preso here.

Trisha borrowed a lot of the CloudCamp unconference format for the KAMP Summit which worked well.  I also found out that they had an App Contest (Desktop and Web) similar to a sprint during StartupWeekend.  I spent most of the day there and this is what I walked away with:

  • Cloud in the public sector is still very new, yes it’s a journey
  • Unconference (a la Barcamp) continues to work well as a format
  • The midwest has a lot of innovation in it
  • Can’t underestimate the value of leadership and community (Trisha did an amazing job)

I had to leave during the Unpanel but I was getting a lot of questions about Cloud in general (security, resiliency, etc) and I tried to answer as much as I could.  I also met Angie Jennings of Swova who specializes in ArcGIS implementations.  Her company is also one of the first to help customers take their GIS solutions into the cloud from an IaaS perspective.

If you’ve got questions about the preso or cloud in general, feel free to comment below.

Getting Ready for Microsoft PDC09

I was invited as an “influencer” to attend the 2009 Microsoft Professional Developer’s Conference by Brian Prince.  This is my first PDC and I’m absolutely stoked to be here.  The event is important because it is the official launch of Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

In case you don’t know what Azure is, here’s a description from Microsoft’s web site:

The Windows Azure platform offers an intuitive, reliable and powerful platform for the creation of web applications and services.

The Windows Azure platform is comprised of Windows Azure: an operating system as a service; SQL Azure: a fully relational database in the cloud; and .NET Services: consumable web-based services that provide both secure connectivity and federated access control for applications.

Currently in Community Technology Preview (CTP), the services are free to evaluate through January 2010. We will begin charging customers on February 1st, 2010.

I’m excited to be a part of such a big event for Microsoft. One thing that seems to be consistent is that this is not your dad’s Microsoft. Their cloud group started with twenty engineers and has ramped up over the last couple of years.

Like I’ve done in the past, here’s a “What I want out of PDC09” list. If there’s something you would like out of PDC, feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me.

  1. Get the latest updates on the Azure stack
  2. Understand the limitations and where different services are best used
  3. See how Azure addresses challenges like deployment, scaling, security and private cloud integration
  4. Understand how Microsoft is making their software cloud-aware
  5. Talk to more people using Azure and see examples of how they are using it

Much of it is cloud-focused because I spend a bit of my time running Indy Cloud Users and involved with CloudCamp. It has been awhile since I’ve spent time with developers so I’m sure I will be learning a lot. I’ve been impressed with the dynamic nature of the company and individuals like Brian who deliver the message about what Microsoft is doing.