Matches for: “factory” …

IaaS Cloud Litmus Test – The 5 Minute VM

I will make this simple.  There is only one question you need to ask yourself or your IT department to determine if what you have is really an Infrastructure-as-a-Service cloud.

Can I get a VM in 5-10 minutes?

Perhaps a little bit more detailed?

Can a properly credentialed user, with a legitimate need for cloud resources, log into your cloud portal or use your cloud API, request a set of cloud resources (compute, network, storage), and have them provisioned for them automatically in a matter of a few minutes (typically less than 10 and often less than 5)?

If you can answer yes, congratulations – it’s very likely a cloud.  If you cannot answer yes it is NOT cloud IaaS. There is no wriggle room here.

Cloud is an operating model supported by technology.  And that operating model has as its core defining characteristic the ability to request and receive resources in real-time, on-demand. All of the other NIST characteristics are great, but no amount of metering (measured service), resource pooling, elasticity, or broad network access (aka Internet) can overcome a 3-week (or worse) provisioning cycle for a set of VMs.

Tie this to your business drivers for cloud.

  • Agility? Only if you get your VMs when you need them.  Like NOW!
  • Cost? If you have lots of manual approvals and provisioning, you have not taken the cost of labor out.  5 Minute VMs requires 100% end-to-end automation with no manual approvals.
  • Quality? Back to manual processes – these are error prone because humans suck at repetitive tasks as compared to machines.

Does that thing you call a cloud give you a 5 Minute VM?  If not, stop calling it a cloud and get serious about building the IT Factory of the Future.

“You keep using that word [cloud].  I do not think it means what you think it means.”

– The Princess Cloud



(c) 2012 CloudBzz / TechBzz Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This post originally appeared at You can follow CloudBzz on Twitter @CloudBzz.

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Talking Cloud in the Enterprise

Despite the fact that cloud is part of the daily conversation in many enterprises, I still find a significant gap in many places in terms of a true understanding of that it means. This is somewhat compounded by the reliance on standard definitions of cloud computing from NIST and other sources. These definitions are helpful in some respects, but they are far more focused on attributes than on business value – and the business value is what is truly needed in the enterprise to break through the barriers to cloud computing.

First, let’s divide the enterprise IT landscape into three buckets:

  • Infrastructure & Operations: this is the core group in IT responsible for operating the data centers, running the servers, keeping the lights on, ensuring adequate capacity, performing IT governance, etc. We’ll call them I&O.
  • Applications: whether custom application development by a dev team, or a COTS application licensed in, or a SaaS app running externally, the applications are where the core value of IT is created. As a general rule, I&O exists to serve applications – not the other way around (though I think we can all come up with situations in our past where the nature of that relationship has not been so clear).
  • The Business: these are the users and application owners. Developers build apps for “the business” and I&O hosts them. Often times, especially in large enterprises, application development actually sits within the business under a business line CIO. So the app owners also control the application development and are the “customers” of I&O.

When talking about cloud, it’s really critical to have this context in mind. If you are talking to the business, they care about some very specific things related to their applications, and they have requirements that I&O needs to address. If you are talking to I&O, they have a related but very different set of issues and requirements and you need to address them in terms that are relevant to them. Let’s start with the business.

Talking Cloud to the Business

If you are speaking with the application owners within a business, they care about the following (generally unsatisfied) requirements with respect to their infrastructure and IT needs (the ordering is not important – it will be different for different businesses):

  1. Control – The pre-cloud world is one in which the business makes requests of I&O, often through an onerous and labor intensive service request workflow involving forms, approvals, emails, negotiation, rework, and more. The business puts up with this because they have to, or they just go outside and procure what they need from external vendors. As with many innovations, cloud computing first entered through the business and only later got adopted by IT. As a business, I really want to be able to control my IT consumption at a granular level, know that it will get delivered reliably and quickly with no errors, etc. This is the concept of “on-demand self-service.” Let me configure my requirements online, push a button, and get it exactly as I ordered with no fuss.
  2. Transparency – I heard a story once where a company had hired so many IT finance analysts that there were more people accounting for IT than actually producing it. It may be a myth, but I can see how it might actually happen. If I apply the management accounting principles of the shop floor to IT, I start to get into activity-based costing, very complex allocation formulas, etc. But even with that, it’s still viewed by the business as more of a black box than transparent. I sat with some IT folks from Massachusetts a couple years ago and they all groused about how costs were allocated – with the exception of one guy at the table who knew he was getting a good deal. Winners and losers, right?  What the business wants today is transparency. Let me know the cost per unit of IT, in advance, and give me control (see 1) over how much I consume and let me know what I’ve used and the costs incurred along the way. No surprises, no guess work, no hassle. In the NIST cloud world we call this “measured” IT.
  3. Productivity & Innovation– Pre-cloud I&O processes are often so onerous that they significantly impact developer productivity. If it takes me several meetings, days of analysis, and hours of paperwork to properly size, configure and formulate a request for a VM, that’s a huge productivity drain. Further, if I have to wait several days or even weeks before this VM is available to me, and I have to wait for it, that slows me down. At one financial institution I spoke with the VM request form as 4 packed pages long, required 12 approval steps, and each approval step had an SLA of 3 weeks. Yes, that’s a potential of 36 weeks to return a VM and still hit their SLAs to the business. In reality it never took 36 weeks – but it often took 6-10 weeks for a VM. Seriously, why can I just have a VM now, when I need it? That’s what the business wants. Related to productivity, innovation is seriously stifled in most enterprise IT environments. Imagine if I’m on a roll, have this great idea, but need a VM to test it. Then imagine a series of hurdles – sizing, configuration, paperwork, approvals and waiting!! Now, it may be a pretty cool idea, but unless it’s part of my top priority task list and was approved months ago, it just isn’t going to happen. The business wants support for innovation too. That means it wants speed. This is the concept of “elasticity” in IT. Give me as much as I want/need now, and when I’m done, you can have it back.
  4. Cost – Last but often not least, the business wants a smaller bill from IT – and the benchmark is no longer in their peer group. The benchmark is Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Rackspace and others. The benchmark is the cloud. Why pay $800/month for a virtual machine when Rackspace will rent it to me for $100? Not only does the business want better IT – more control, transparency, productivity, and innovation – but they also want it at a lower cost. Easy right?

When engaging with the business application owners about their cloud needs (you do this, right?), and they are having a hard time articulating what is important to them and why they want cloud, ask them if they want more control, transparency, productivity & innovation, and lower cost.  If they don’t really want most of this, then perhaps they don’t want or need a cloud.

Talking Cloud to IT Infrastructure & Operations (I&O)

In short, I&O really would like to satisfy the requirements of the business listed above. Remember that I&O’s mission is to serve the business by serving their applications. When talking with the I&O side of the house (make no mistake, there are at least 2 sides here), talk in terms of the requirements of the business. Yup – control, transparency, productivity & innovation, and cost.

How? Be a cloud provider to the business, of course. But what does that mean? So many people I meet still think that a self-service portal in front of a vSphere cluster is all that it means to be a cloud. It’s more than this – it’s a completely end-to-end automated operations model to deliver IT services. In order to meet all of the requirements above, including at a reasonable cost, everything that can be automated should be automated. So-called “enterprise clouds” that still require manual steps in the provisioning process cannot achieve the cost advantages of a fully automated environment (unless of course the cost of putting in the automation, divided by the number of units produced, is greater than the cost of doing it manually). This is no different than with the making of products. Even in many heavily automated mass-production businesses such as auto manufacturing, IT still done in a way where every VM and deployment landscape is an exception crafted by hand. That’s a huge waste!

Cloud computing operating models (cloud not a technology, it’s the application of many technologies to change the way IT is operated) grew out of necessity. How could Google, Amazon or other large scale web business possibly handle tens of thousands of servers without either armies of low cost workers or “extreme” automation? They could not, and neither can you even if your data center footprint is in the hundreds of server range. Clearly the automation route is less expensive in the long run, at least for the vast majority of tasks and actions that are performed in a data center every day.

Now enterprise IT gets to have many of the same techniques used by cloud providers applied in their own operations. With all of the software out there for building infrastructure (IaaS) and platform (PaaS) clouds, it’s never been easy to envision and implement the “IT Factory of the Future” in any sized environment. Take an OpenStack, BMC Cloud Lifecycle Management, VMware vCloud or other cloud stack and create your infrastructure factory. Then add Apprenda, Cloud Foundry, or one of dozens of other PaaS frameworks and and create your application platform factory If fully implemented and integrated, the variable labor cost for new units of IT production (VM, scaled front end, etc.) will approach zero.

Let’s take this to an extreme. Some in IT have titles like VP or director of infrastructure. They run the I&O function. Let’s give them a new title – IT plant manager if they run one data center. Or VP of IT production if they run all I&O. Even if you don’t go that route, perhaps that’s how these people need to see themselves going forward.

Related Posts

“Putting Clouds in Perspective – Cloud Redefined”

“Don’t Mention the Cloud”

(c) 2011 CloudBzz / TechBzz Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This post originally appeared at You can follow CloudBzz on Twitter @CloudBzz.


Don’t Mention the Cloud

"I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it alright."

The “cloud” term has started to turn like the leaves on the trees outside my Window.  It’s yellowing, drying out and about to fall to Earth to be raked up and composted into fertilizer if something isn’t done to stop it.

Where once it was the magic phrase that opened any door, the term “cloud” is now considered persona non grata in many meetings with customers. When everything’s a cloud – and today “cloud washing” is an epidemic on an unprecedented scale – the term loses meaning.

When everything’s a cloud, nothing is.

In fact, not only does “cloud” mean less today than a year ago, what it does mean is not good. For many customers, “cloud” is just a pig with cloud lipstick.  And who’s fault is this?  It’s ours – all of ours in the IT industry.  We’ve messed it up – potentially killing the golden goose.

A Vblock is not a cloud (not that a Vblock is a pig). It’s just a big block of “converged infrastructure.” Whatever its merits, it ain’t a cloud. You can build a cloud on top of a Vblock, which is great, but with out the cloud management environment from CA, BMC, VMware (vCloud) or others, it’s just hardware.

A big EMC storage array is not a cloud either, but that doesn’t stop EMC from papering airports around the globe with “Journey to the Private Cloud” banners. Nothing against EMC.  And VMware too often still confuses your cloud state with what percent of your servers are virtualized.  Virtualization is not cloud.  Virtualization is not even a requirement for cloud – you can cloud without a VM.

A managed hosting service is not a cloud.

Google AdWords is not cloud “Business Process as a Service” as Gartner would have you believe. It’s advertising!  Nor is ADP Payroll a cloud (sorry again, Gartner), even if it’s hosted by ADP.  It’s payroll.  By their logic, Gartner might start to include McDonalds in their cloud definition (FaaS – Fat as a Service?). I can order books at Amazon and they get mailed to my house.  Is that “Book Buying as a Service” too?  Ridiculous!

And then there’s Microsoft’s “To the Cloud” campaign with a photo app that I don’t believe even exists.

It’s no wonder, then, that customers are sick and tired and can’t take it (cloud) anymore.  Which is why it’s not surprising when many customer “cloud” initiatives are actually called something else.  They call it dynamic service provisioning, or self service IT, or an automated service delivery model.  Just don’t use the “cloud” term to describe it or you might find yourself out in the street quicker than you can say “resource pooling.”

There’s also that pesky issue about “what is a cloud, anyway?” that I wrote about recently. For users, it’s a set of benefits like control, transparency, and productivity.  For providers, it’s Factory IT – more output at higher quality and lower cost.

When talking about “cloud computing” to business users and IT leaders, perhaps it’s time to stop using the word cloud and start using a less ambiguous term. Perhaps “factory IT” or “ITaaS” or some other term to describe “IT capabilities delivered as a service.”

No matter what, when speaking to customers be careful about using the “cloud” term.  Be precise and make sure you and your audience both know what you mean.

Putting Clouds in Perspective – Cloud Redefined

A Change of Perspective by kuschelirmel

You’d think as we head into the waning months of 2011 that there’d be little left to discuss regarding the definition of cloud IT.  Well, not quite yet.

Having spent a lot of time with clients working on their cloud strategies and planning, I’ve come to learn that the definition of cloud IT is fundamentally different depending on your perspective.  Note that I am using “cloud IT” and not “cloud computing” to make it clear I’m talking only about IT services and not consumer Internet services.

Users of cloud IT – those requesting and getting access to cloud resources – define clouds by the benefits they derive.  All those NIST-y terms like resource pooling, rapid elasticity, measured service, etc. can sound like gibberish to users.  Self-service is just a feature – but users need to understand the benefits.  For a user – cloud IT is about control, flexibility, improved productivity, (potentially) lower costs, and greater transparency. There are other benefits, perhaps – but these are commonly what I hear.

For providers – whether internal IT groups or commercial service providers – cloud IT means something entirely different.  First and foremost, it’s about providing services that align with the benefits valued by users described above.  Beyond that, cloud IT is about achieving the benefits of mass production and automation, a “factory IT” model that fundamentally and forever changes the way we deliver IT services.  In fact, factory IT (McKinsey blog) is a far better term to describe what we call cloud today when you’re talking to service providers.

Factory IT standardizes on a reasonable number of standard configurations (service catalog), automates repetitive processes (DevOps), then manages and monitors ongoing operations more tightly (management). Unlike typical IT, with it’s heavily manual processes and hand-crafted custom output, factory IT generates economies of scale that produce more services in a given time period, at a far lower marginal cost per unit of output.

Delivering these economies end-to-end is where self-service comes in.  Like a vending machine, you put your money (or budget) in, make a selection, and out pops your IT service.  Without factory IT, self service – and the control, transparency, productivity and other benefits end users value – would not be possible.

Next time someone asks you to define cloud, make sure you understand which side of the cloud they are standing on before you answer.


(c) 2011 CloudBzz / TechBzz Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This post originally appeared at You can follow CloudBzz on Twitter @CloudBzz.

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