Cloud Source Blog
In This HP Cloud Source Blog, HP Expert, Christian Verstraete will examine cloud computing challenges, discuss practical approaches to cloud computing and suggest realistic solutions.

Cloud Computing, it’s all about Applications

App trans.jpgIf we believe the 2014 predictions posted over the last month, cloud computing is slowly reaching maturity. It is becoming the way we do computing these days. And frankly I tend to agree with that. Does that however mean that all companies take full advantage of the cloud? Definitely not. There has been too much emphasis on IaaS, infrastructure as a service, where IT department use cloud computing to speed-up the process of provisioning servers. As I already mentioned in several blog entries, this is more of the same, but does not harness the full potential of cloud.

 

The predictions actually point to the fact IaaS is quickly becoming a commodity and the falling pricing is not contradicting this. Ultimately, customers are not moving to the cloud for the stake of it. They do it because they want increased flexibility and reduced cost in their applications. Ultimately it’s all about delivering functionality to the business, the customers and the members of the eco-system.

 

We already talked several times about Geoffrey Moore’s system of records and systems of engagements. While in the 90’s our focus was definitely on the systems of record, ensuring we passed the critical boundary of the year 2000 without being harmed, the current focus is more on the systems of engagements.

 

Progress made in mobile technology, the up come of social media and the consumerization of IT have all driven communication and collaboration. And most users expect similar facilities in their business life as what they have gotten accustomed to in their private life. 

 

In parallel with that, resulting from the required cost reductions needed to survive the crises of the first decade of the new millennium, enterprises have increasingly relied on integrating their eco-system to develop a leaner, more integrated supply chain of products and services alike. This has further enforced the need for increased collaboration, hence putting even more focus on the systems of engagements.

 

As many other parts of the organization, IT has been pressured to reduce costs, and quickly came to the conclusion that 70 to 80% of their costs were associated with keeping the shop running, while only 20-30% could be spent on improving it.

 

As cloud computing appeared, with its promises of only paying for what was actually consumed, with reducing the cost of operating the environment etc., it has been seen as a way forward for many IT departments. Most have actually used cloud computing technology to speed-up and facilitate the provisioning of servers to their users. In parallel they have virtualized their environments to reduce the amount of hardware required and as a result reduce operations costs.

 

The uncertain demand of systems of engagements

Yes, everything else remaining equal, the cost of running IT has gone down drastically. Unfortunately, the increasing collaboration needs described above have required IT to build new systems and to open existing ones to mobile access, not just by employees, but by eco-system users, resulting in a much less predictable usage patterns. True cloud technologies, including scale-up/scale-down of resources and load balancing provide solutions to these new challenges.

 

But T is left with a key decision. Over the last 10 years, they developed systems of engagements. Ill they port those to the new platforms, or are they rebuilding them from scratch. Frankly there is no ONE answer to this question. Existing applications need to be analyzed and their cloud readiness assessed. Architecturally the application should be able to support parallel processing, should allow for loose coupling between its components, should not rely on low latency connections to data and functionality etc.  If the application can be transformed to “cloud” criteria, the next question then is on which cloud this application should run. Here the sensitivity of the application and its data, regulatory requirements and security considerations should be taken into account.

 

While doing all that, it makes a lot of sense to mobile enable the application also. We talked about the consumerization of IT. Our users expect to access the application from any device. Transforming the user interface to be available through a variety of devices, facilitating the user experience are all elements that have to be taken into considerations while we transform the application for cloud.

 

Application Transformation Methodologies exist, and HP happens to have one that has been successfully used with thousands of applications.

 

And what about the systems of record

As in many cases, systems of engagements trigger actions in systems of records. So, as the demand on systems of engagement becomes more variable, so is the interaction with systems of record. The type of interaction between the two may result in requiring more agility for the systems of record also.

 

Ultimately there are two types of interactions, requests/queries and actions. A system of engagement may trigger an action in a system of record. For example, a system of engagement supporting maintenance activities may trigger the release of a spare part from inventory. The fundamental question we need to ask ourselves is how quickly the stock needs to be updated. Can this action be buffered and acted upon when the system of record is available, or do we need to act immediately? Again, that depends on the way the organization is running its business.

 

Can a user, from a system of engagement, request a piece of information available in a system of record? To stick to the same example, is the maintenance engineer allowed to check whether a spare part is available in stock? If the answer is yes, that functionality of the system of record needs to be able to respond quickly. If such requests come in at an unpredictable rate, that function in a system of record may have to flex-up/flex-down, which makes it friendlier to cloud.

 

But we also see a number of our customers wanting to migrate their systems of record as they consolidate them and/or close datacenters. Here the problem is different and IT departments may be tempted to just provision virtual servers and install the systems of records, as much as possible “as-is” on those servers. This does not provides full cloud functionality as pointed out earlier. I believe however that such migration is a good moment to start looking at what needs to be done with those systems of records. Are there parts that may need the full benefits of cloud and how could they be transformed to take those benefits?

 

Take an end-to-end look at things

Yes, there are systems of records and systems of engagements, and then there is the mobile front-ends. But ultimately, together they allow your employees and partners to run your enterprise business processes. To do that, do not start from your applications or infrastructure, but rather from your business architecture, the description of the business processes the enterprise is standardizing on. Understand the business processes, what services are required to support each of them and look at what service can be found in what application. Understand the requirements and assess whether this implies the use of cloud capabilities. That’s where you start defining how to transform your applications to better support the business.

 

Now, you may realize that the service you require is not adequately supported by an existing application and you have to build new functionality. Frankly you need to do the same. The only difference, rather than transforming an existing application, you’ll have to develop a new one.

 

Conclusion

As the business increasingly becomes digital, as enterprises interact more and more with their customers, eco-system and partners, the demand for IT capabilities increases drastically but becomes less predictive. Using cloud technologies can help you address the changing environment, allowing you to demonstrated drastically improved support to the business. So, take the time to look at your applications, keep them in mind when defining your cloud strategy. As cloud computing is all about what you provide to support the business.

Labels: cloud| CloudSource
Leave a Comment

We encourage you to share your comments on this post. Comments are moderated and will be reviewed
and posted as promptly as possible during regular business hours

To ensure your comment is published, be sure to follow the community guidelines.

Be sure to enter a unique name. You can't reuse a name that's already in use.
Be sure to enter a unique email address. You can't reuse an email address that's already in use.
Type the characters you see in the picture above.Type the words you hear.
Search
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 
About the Author
Christian is responsible for building services focused on advising clients in their move to cloud, particularly from a business process and ...


Follow Us
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation