I’ve Seen the Future


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The rise of public cloud services such as Amazon EC2 and Rackspace have paved the way for a fundamental transformation in enterprise IT. This transformation isn’t about a wholesale migration of workloads to the public cloud. It’s a transformation by example, where existing IT organizations are recast to look a lot more like a public cloud service.

What exactly does this mean?

It means self-service—where the interface between IT and lines of business is dramatically simplified and abstracted—from in-the-weeds detail to simple, standardized, ready-to-order services that are presented as a set of menu options within a catalog. Business lines select these services, and they’re billed for only what they consume.

It means automation—where the service catalog is populated by a set of centrally managed infrastructure, application and business service offerings that can be deployed on demand across physical, virtual and cloud environments.

It means elasticity—where compute capacity in the data center is provisioned and de-provisioned elastically, in conjunction with dynamic fluctuations in demand.

It sounds a lot like a public cloud service—which is exactly the goal of this transformation. Public cloud has emerged as the new context—the inspiration and the example—for what enterprise IT will soon become.

But unlike the public cloud model, this will enable:

• Applications and data behind the firewall—without (real or perceived) concerns about security, privacy or compliance associated with workloads and data running outside of the enterprise.
• Workload portability—where IT can dynamically retarget workloads across physical, virtual, public or private clouds to optimize for price, performance or policy.
• Scalable cost economies—where IT can capitalize on the cost advantages of long-running workloads running internally. For all its pennies-an-hour goodness, the economies of the public cloud option break down as a workload runs over time.

The solution is a self-service private/hybrid cloud. This is the core of the transformation that should take place to move IT from a bottleneck to a business enabler.

Of course, transformations always have a cost.

Forrester VP and Principal Analyst James Staten is correct when he declares: “You’re Not Ready for Internal Cloud.” He’s correct because this sort of transformation won’t take place simply because we want it to. The cost to the transformation is operational maturity—standardizing and automating infrastructure and processes for speed and scale. But this is a practical caution more than it is a bleak outlook: The tools and practices are available for achieving this level of maturity and creating a scalable and sustainable private/hybrid cloud.

What will happen if IT fails to make this transformation? Demand will follow the path of least resistance as workloads escape to the cloud. Just swipe a credit card. As our friend Rodrigo Flores at newScale says: “16 Digits to Freedom”!

In the end, IT will open for business—and the example set by public cloud services will become the new context for how IT services are delivered. The result? A transformation in cost, agility, and long-awaited harmony between business lines and IT.



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