Think Vertical

You’ve made the decision to move to the cloud, but as with anything, all products aren’t created equal.  And like with any complex decision, you need a roadmap.

But let’s start with something important – you need to start to Think Vertical.  Many organizations have the responsibility for the compute, storage, data center and network split across manager.  Of course, when you only have a few servers in a closet and you’re running a local area network to connect your PCs, it might have been OK.   But today it doesn’t make sense.  The optimal decisions are totally connected.  Let’s say you acquire a new business in Japan. Should you get a high-speed network back to your servers in California? Should you buy a data center cloud service in Japan and put your own servers in there? Or should you connect to a compute & storage cloud service in Singapore?

So now that you’re ready to Think Vertical, your journey begins with considering the right parameters or service features.  If you were making a trip to Rio and using Kayak to book your trip, you’d select departure time, arrival time, class of service, etc. So what are these parameters in our world?

  • Location. While it may seem odd to talk about location and cloud computing, the reality is that for both technological and geopolitical reasons, location does, and will continue to, matter.
  • Security. Select the right security features.  What are the hardening, identity and access management, auditing, testing and compliance features you need?
  • Availability. How fast a recovery time to hardware failure, to site failure do you need?
  • Performance. Given your particular workload, what response time or throughput is required? How frequently do you do capacity planning?
  • Change Management. How fast can a change be made?  How many tests are run? How quickly can a change be backed out?
  • Business Models. There are of course many different business models equivalent to the many ways you can acquire automobile transportation services: rent for a day, an hour, a week, own, lease, etc. Some will make sense for your particular needs; others will be far too expensive.

Once you know the features or “knobs” you need, you should turn your attention to the decision making process.  Below are five steps to insure you get to where you want to go, quickly and optimally.

1.  Know where you are today. Start by doing a high level inventory of your current network, data center, compute and storage.  Focus not only on the technology aspects, e.g., the number of servers, and their age, but also the business aspects. You may be interested to know that a CIO of a $1B company was surprised last year to discover his hardware lease was about to expire in 90 days. Or a large software company who recently discovered they were paying for a datacenter with no power going to it.

2.  Get educated. Research the various compute, storage, datacenter and network cloud service providers.  Today there are over 426 of them with deployments in over 11,072 locations. Even within a particular supplier, there are different variations of the product. For example, just in EC2 AWS has 674 different products. (Source: Burstorm 2013).

3.  Define a common standard to compare. A computer is not a computer. Odd to say, but once you become a student of this you’ll find that a Layered Tech instance is not the same as a Rackspace instance if you take into consideration the ability to execute a certain workload, availability of security features, or making changes in context of tracking against compliance requirements.  Furthermore, make sure you’ve started to define the availability, security and change-management objectives you have.

4.  Do scenario planning. Given the number of alternative scenarios, go thru as many as you can to determine the optimal configuration. You’ll need some high level answers to the business model question to help you figure out if the best way to Rio is to go thru Houston or Miami.

5.  Negotiate. Not unlike any large-scale purchase, you’d be advised to see if William Shatner is available to act as your negotiator. Negotiation is an ancient art form best practiced by specialists.

Making the move to cloud computing can be complicated, and in a world with many choices, it can seem overwhelming. But if you take the trouble to make the trip, you’ll enjoy the sunset over the Copacabana with a Caipirinha in your hand.

Timothy Chou, Cloud Computing Expert

About the Author: Timothy Chou started the first class on cloud computing at Stanford University. Based on his lectures he authored “Cloud: Seven Clear Business Models”. He has delivered keynote speeches and taught executive seminars on the subject in Europe, Asia and Latin America. In addition he’s spent over 25 years in industry including serving as the President of Oracle On Demand. Today is on the board of a select number of public and private companies.

Comments are currently closed.