Welcome!

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Cloud Computing: Rethinking Control of IT

Executives are still dead set on building Private Clouds. The true reason for this stubbornness is the battle over control.

In my role as a globetrotting Cloud consultant, I continue to be amazed at how many executives, both in IT and in the lines of business, still favor Private Clouds over Public. These managers are perfectly happy to pour money into newfangled data centers (sorry, “Private Clouds”), even though Amazon Web Services (AWS) and its brethren are reinventing the entire world of IT. Their reason? Sometimes they believe Private Clouds will save them money over the Public Cloud option. No such luck: Private Clouds are dreadfully expensive to build, staff, and manage, while Public Cloud services continue to fall in price. Others point to security as the problem. No again. OK, maybe Private Clouds will give us sufficient elasticity? Probably not. Go through all the arguments, however, and they’re still dead set on building that Private Cloud. What gives? The true reason for this stubbornness, of course, is the battle over control.

Thinking Like a Control Freak
IT executives in particular have always been control freaks. Our IT environments have been filled with fragile, flaky gear for so long that we figure the only way to run the IT shop is to control everything, grudgingly doling out bits of functionality and information to business users, but only when they ask nicely.

But this old mainframe reality has been fading for years now. The move to client/server to n-tier to the Internet and now to the Cloud are all exercises in increasingly distributed computing, with special emphasis on the distributed. As in distributed control.

The technology powers that be in the enterprise have been fighting this trend kicking and screaming, of course. But they’ve been fighting a losing battle. We saw the tide turn in the first-generation SOA days of the 2000s, when the IT establishment invested tried to implement SOA by buying ESBs, centralized pieces of middleware that purported to run the organization. But too many enterprises ended up with multiple ESBs and other pieces of middleware, since of course every manager in every department silo needs their own, because they all crave control. So the doomed SOA effort became a futile exercise in middleware-for-your-middleware, as the desired agility benefit sank beneath waves of rats-nest complexity.

What’s really going on here? Why do executives crave control so badly? Two reasons: risk mitigation and differentiation. If that piece of technology is outside your control, then perhaps bad things will happen: security breaches, regulatory compliance violations, or performance issues, to name the scariest. The problem is, maintaining control doesn’t necessary reduce such risks. But if you’re responsible for managing the risks, then the natural reaction is to crave control.

Managers also believe that whatever it is they’re doing in their silo is special and different in some way. So there’s no way they can leverage that shared piece of middleware or shared SOA-based Services or multitenant Cloud. If they did, they wouldn’t be special any more. Having a differentiated offering is essential to any viable market strategy, after all. So clearly my technology has to be different from your technology!

Chaos vs. Control
The Cloud, as you might expect, shakes up both these considerations, because the Cloud separates responsibility from control in ways that we’ve never seen before. Every manager knows that these two priorities often go hand in hand, and under normal circumstances, we prefer them to go together, because the last thing we want is responsibility without control: the recipe for becoming the scapegoat, after all. With the Cloud, however, we can maintain control while delegating responsibility to the Cloud Service Provider (CSP). The CSP is responsible for ensuring the operational environment is working properly, including the automated management and user-driven provisioning and configuration that differentiate Cloud Computing from virtualized hosting. However, the CSP has delegated control over each customer environment to that customer.

By turning around this control vs. responsibility equation, we’ve placed the CSP into the scapegoat position. As long as we have an iron-clad Service-Level Agreement with our CSP, we can trust them to take responsibility for our operational environments, and if anything goes wrong, we can hold them responsible. But the control over those environments remains with us, the customer. Once enterprise executives realize this new world order, they will run as fast as they can away from building Private Clouds. After all, if you can maintain control while delegating responsibility, why would you ever want responsibility? Responsibility gets people fired, after all.

Shifting responsibility to the CSP also helps to resolve the regulatory compliance roadblock that so many executives point to as the reason to select Private over Public Cloud. A combination of a properly responsible CSP combined with a sufficiently detailed SLA can go a long way toward indemnifying organizations against compliance breach risks. Remember, regulations rarely if ever specify how you must comply, only that you must. It’s up to you (and your lawyers) to decide on the how. As long as you’re diligent, conscientious, and follow established best practice, you’ve mitigated the bulk of your noncompliance risk. The CSPs are chomping at the bit to take this responsibility, so the smart risk mitigation strategy is shifting toward the Public Cloud.

The Price of Differentiation
The second threat to centralized control of IT is the business driver toward differentiation. Whatever our department or business is doing is special and different, and thus our infrastructure as well as our application environment must be unique as well. This principle is always true up to a point, which is why executives love to cling to it like a floating log in a vast sea of change. But just where that point falls continues to shift, and has shifted further than many people realize.

No enterprise would dream of calling a computer chip company and asking them to fabricate a custom processor for general business needs. What about a server? Unlikely, but perhaps. What about your core business applications, like finance, human resources, or customer relationship management (CRM)? Somewhat more likely. How about applications that provide capabilities that differentiate you in the marketplace? OK, now we’re talking.

In other words, virtually no enterprise has any rational motivation to specify custom infrastructure. Today’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) will do, especially considering how many configuration choices are available today: processor speed, operating system (as long as you want Windows or a flavor of Linux), memory, storage, and network are all user configurable and provisionable. Furthermore, there’s no reason to customize your dev, test, or deployment environments, so might as well use a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering.

But what about the applications? For non-strategic apps like CRM, might as well use Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) like Salesforce. No executives in their right mind would say that their customer relationship needs are so unique that they should code their own CRM system. So, what about those strategic apps, the ones that offer our differentiated capabilities or information to our customers? If an existing SaaS app won’t do, well, that’s what PaaS and IaaS are for: building and hosting our custom apps for us, respectively.

Still not convinced? Consider the competitive risk: the risk of spending too much money on unnecessary capabilities. While your competition is leveraging the Cloud, focusing their efforts on their true strategic differentiation in the market and saving buckets of dough everywhere else, you’re busy pouring cash into building yet another widget that might as well be the same widget you can get much more cheaply in the Cloud. If doing something unique and different doesn’t help the bottom line, then you’re simply wasting money. The asteroid is almost here. Which would you rather be, a dinosaur or a mammal?

The ZapThink Take
Outsourcing commodity capabilities to the low-cost provider while focusing your strategic value-add on customized offerings is an oft-repeated pattern in the world of business, but it hasn’t really taken hold in the world of IT until the rise of Cloud Computing. The reason it’s taken so long for the techies is because we’ve never been able to separate control and responsibility in the past as well as we can today. Before the Cloud, if we wanted to outsource one, then the other went along for the ride. Any enterprise that outsourced their entire IT operation went down this road. Sure, your technology becomes somebody else’s responsibility, but you end up giving up control as well.

Perhaps the greatest challenge with maintaining such control with the Cloud is that it raises the stakes on governance, leading to what we call next-generation governance in our ZapThink 2020 Poster as well as my new book, The Agile Architecture Revolution. The Cloud’s automated self-service represents powerful tools in the hands of people across our organization. Without a proactive, automated approach to governance, we risk running off the rails. Such issues are endemic in today’s technology environments: from Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) challenges to SOA governance to rogue Clouds, we must learn how to maintain control while maintaining the agility benefit such powerful technology dangles in front of us. But until we learn to delegate responsibility for the underlying technology to Public Cloud Providers, we’ll never be able to maintain control cost-effectively while maintaining our competitiveness.

Image source: Diego David Garcia

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

Latest Stories
To leverage Continuous Delivery, enterprises must consider impacts that span functional silos, as well as applications that touch older, slower moving components. Managing the many dependencies can cause slowdowns. See how to achieve continuous delivery in the enterprise.
Actian Corporation has announced the latest version of the Actian Vector in Hadoop (VectorH) database, generally available at the end of July. VectorH is based on the same query engine that powers Actian Vector, which recently doubled the TPC-H benchmark record for non-clustered systems at the 3000GB scale factor (see tpc.org/3323). The ability to easily ingest information from different data sources and rapidly develop queries to make better business decisions is becoming increasingly importan...
Is the ongoing quest for agility in the data center forcing you to evaluate how to be a part of infrastructure automation efforts? As organizations evolve toward bimodal IT operations, they are embracing new service delivery models and leveraging virtualization to increase infrastructure agility. Therefore, the network must evolve in parallel to become equally agile. Read this essential piece of Gartner research for recommendations on achieving greater agility.
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Kubernetes, Docker and containers are changing the world, and how companies are deploying their software and running their infrastructure. With the shift in how applications are built and deployed, new challenges must be solved. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Sebastian Scheele, co-founder of Loodse, will discuss the implications of containerized applications/infrastructures and their impact on the enterprise. In a real world example based on Kubernetes, he will show how to ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
To paraphrase someone famous, "The definition of insanity is to do something the same way over and over again and expect a different result". Humans are creatures of habit and when it comes to storage, old habits die hard. Why do we continue to put our faith in legacy storage providers when they haven't invented anything new in decades. Sure, they re-badge their products every couple of years to make their messaging look modern, but ultimately, it's the same old stuff with a new coat of lipsti...
StarNet Communications Corp has announced the addition of three Secure Remote Desktop modules to its flagship X-Win32 PC X server. The new modules enable X-Win32 to safely tunnel the remote desktops from Linux and Unix servers to the user’s PC over encrypted SSH. Traditionally, users of PC X servers deploy the XDMCP protocol to display remote desktop environments such as the Gnome and KDE desktops on Linux servers and the CDE environment on Solaris Unix machines. XDMCP is used primarily on comp...
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
SYS-CON Events announced today that StarNet Communications will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. StarNet Communications’ FastX is the industry first cloud-based remote X Windows emulator. Using standard Web browsers (FireFox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) users from around the world gain highly secure access to applications and data hosted on Linux-based servers in a central data center. ...
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addres...
Aspose.Total for .NET is the most complete package of all file format APIs for .NET as offered by Aspose. It empowers developers to create, edit, render, print and convert between a wide range of popular document formats within any .NET, C#, ASP.NET and VB.NET applications. Aspose compiles all .NET APIs on a daily basis to ensure that it contains the most up to date versions of each of Aspose .NET APIs. If a new .NET API or a new version of existing APIs is released during the subscription peri...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...