Why we fail: An architect’s journey to the private cloud

This is a re-post from my old blog and the reason I moved it is that I often come back to this talk that was given at TechEd2012 in Amsterdam. Alex Jauch has sinced moved from NetApp but he still pursues perfection as ever. This talk was a life and game/changer for me and I wanted to update it.

Here it is

The session was presented by Alex Jauch, currently at NetApp but he used to work for Microsoft. Actually he was behind the precursor that became the MCA. I had never even heard about this guy before and I would say that it is a shame. I have now though. The heading for the session seem ominous and deterministic but given my personal experience I would say that it is not far from the truth to simply assume that “cloudification” will fail. Incidentally it is also the title of Alex’ book 🙂 Alex (or should I say Mr. Jauch?) started the session by clearly stating that he was about to say things that not all of us would agree upon. He would also try to upset some people! Bold and funny in my opinion.

Definition

The, or even a, definition for what cloud computing really is, can be hard to come by and one definition might differ a lot from the next. * (Add. This is still the case.) Alex presented the definition made by NIST. He pointed to the fact that NIST is a governmental agency and these are notorious for not agreeing on anything. The fact that they have agreed on a definition for cloud computing gives some credibility to it. According to them there are five essential characteristics that together form a cloud. If any of these are left out, you are not a true cloud provider. They are:

 

On-demand self-service. A consumer should be able to change provisioning in the cloud by him/herself.

Broad network access. Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms.

Resource pooling. The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model.

Rapid elasticity. Capabilities can be elastically provisioned and released, in some cases automatically, to scale rapidly outward and inward commensurate with demand.

Measured service. Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service. So if your cloud does not have a portal for adding resources in a way that the consumer can do it, you do not have a cloud service.

The full definition (2 pages) can be found here.

So why do we fail?

no_cloud

I say that it comes down to this comparative table that sums up the two different mind-sets that is the demarcation between traditional IT and cloud IT. In some ways it is also the same difference between operations and developers.

Traditional IT Customer Centric IT (Cloud)
Sets IT standards Supports business requirements
Focus on operations excellence Focus on customer satisfaction
Engineering is key skillset Consulting is key skillset
Sets policy Seek input
Focus on large projects Focus on smaller projects
Organized by technology Organized by customer
Technology focus Business value focus
Delivers most projects in house Brokers external vendors as needed

It is not around technology we fail. It is in how we use it and the attitudes in those that implement the technology. When trying to run a cloud service as “we always have”, in a traditional manner that is when we fail. In order to run a successful a successful cloud shop, we must change focus and really (am he means really) focus on the customer. A very telling quote from the session was around the focus on operations vs. focus on customer.

“’We had a 100% uptime last month’ What does that mean if the customer still has not manage to sell anything?”

So if someone is telling you: “We sell cloud”, at least ask them about the 5 points from the NIST definition. If you (or your organization) is thinking about deliver cloud capacity: Good luck.