The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Are cloud failures different and more common?

Cloud failure.pngWith every technology there is a lifecycle and it cloud computing must be coming off the top of the top of the hype cycle with the number of stories similar to: The worst cloud outages of 2014.

 

And follow on stories like: Cloud failures will happen. Are you ready? It is prudent for articles to make statements like:

“Even if you only use the most reputable cloud services and products, things are bound to go awry from time to time so it’s crucial to be prepared for failures.”

 

And the ever popular: Why some cloud projects fail? Granted there are some staggering failure rates for cloud projects, but there are significant failure rates for all technology related projects.

 

Many of these patterns of failure are not unique to cloud. It usually gets down to a few issues core to every IT project:

  1. Know the business expectations/requirements and how to measure them.
  2. Have clear executive support
  3. Start small and make adjustments based on facts – iterate. If you don’t get what you expect make changes.
  4. Keep the big picture in mind (in many dimensions). After all, you’re trying to address the needs of the enterprise and not usually just a silo, at the end of the day.

Moving to cloud implies moving from operational thinking to a services mindset. Too many companies still bother about the underlying technology, forgetting to realize they now buy and integrate a service.

2015 resolutions for technologists??

Happy New Year.jpgI was looking at the January 1st issue of CIO magazine over my holiday break and saw an article by Steve Andriole titled: Go Play with Technology (unfortunately, there was not a link to it on line – yet). It discussed the value of experimentation vs. gathering requirements, especially in areas that are new. The article advocated getting your hands dirty with some of the newer technologies, since access is now cheaper and more flexible than it has ever been before.

 

Lately, I’ve been talking to some individuals for a set of architect roles and one of the questions I always ask is: “What’s been your experience in setting up a virtual machine in the public cloud?” Not to find out if they are an expert, but more to determine their level of curiosity and experience. If the role they are targeting is dealing with analytics then I ask them about their various data warehouse or even DBA experiences. No matter the level of experience described, it is always a useful discussion.

 

We all need to push each other to know and experience more. Pushing each other would be a good resolution.

 

If you want to define a new year’s resolution about getting up to speed on some of the newer technologies, there are plenty of on-line (free) courses taking place. Here is another CIO magazine article that might be of some use: 8 Free Online Courses to Grow Your Tech Skills

Grading my predictions for 2014

grading predictions.pngEach year about this time I look back at the prediction post I made the previous year December (200620072008200920102011, 2012, 2013). I didn’t do predictions the first year I blogged but have managed to do one every year since.

 

Now it is time to look at 2014. I said that 2014 was going to be a year of instability. Depending on what industry sector or organization you’re in that was definitely true – but that’s the kind of easy prediction any fortune teller could make. Let’s get into the details:

 

I’ll grade myself with the following scale again this year:

A: Big changes during the year that are having wide effect.

B: Notable progress through the year and isolated areas of significant impact.

C: Progress with some impact

D: Little progress or impact – but work still taking place

F: No progress or the concept abandoned in any commercial sense.

 

Grade

Prediction

Rational

B

Shift from commodity services to a value play

This is definitely happening but slower than I thought it would.

C

Relationships shifting up the stack (from IaaS to Paas or SaaS to business services)

Although business-based outcomes are becoming common, there is still more smoke than fire here.

C

Similarly the view of BYOD will shift to more of a services perspective.

This one I also give myself mixed reviews. Although the BYOD momentum has shifted to more services, we are still not seeing real security brokerage services or other high value services in a standardized form.

A

New style of business

We have definitely seen much more discussion about the business capabilities and new needs provided by new computing capabilities. The concept of a race with the machine has definitely gained in mind share in 2014. Although the self-aware enterprise is still a long way off.

B

Wearables

I have mixed feelings on this rating. Although you can’t throw a rock and not hit someone coming to market with a new wearable device, they are not being effectively embraced in business processes and enterprise user interface design. They are also not yet forming networks of functionality.

B

Software defined anything

The open approaches of   OpenStack for Cloud OS and OpenFlow for software defined networking have definitely come into their own in 2014. There are still distractors who are fighting this rising tide but most see where this is headed and incorporating the shift into their mental model.

B

Software and analytics

2014 has definitely been the year for big data and analytics buzz words. I don’t think it has come to the point of there being widespread embracing of systems of action. Mobile is still viewed as something special and not just one of the many the interface points by most working in the ‘mobile’ space.

D

Software portfolio assessment

Of all the prediction areas, a fundamental reassessment of the software portfolio against the revised needs of the business, is an area where we’ve most missed our potential in 2014. Most organizations have not shifted to a holistic environmental perspective that will empower the organization and enable them to empower others. Organizations still need to assess what is abundant in this new world and maximize value from what will still be scarce for them and others.

A

Engaged and motivated employees will still be scarce

This is definitely true. In this age of automation, the value of good people and a predictable talent creation pipeline may actually be more important than ever. People are not fungible and as we increase our automation, that will be even more true, not less.

 

Based on these scores, my predictions for 2014 were at least not too conservative. My personal goal is to get close to a C+. If I get too high a grade, I am not trying to stretch my thinking (or yours for that matter) enough. Maybe I should strive to stretch enough to get at least one D??

 

My view is the same as when I finished up my post in 2011:

 

“Having said all that, it is a great time to be in IT. Most of our concerns are currently driven by an overabundance of capabilities that most organizations have not tapped into effectively. Those who can have the vision will be in for quite a ride this year as they look to do more with more.”

 

I should have my predictions for 2015 out later in December.

 

 

Services and outcomes – what does the business really need?

 

choices.jpgAlmost every IT and service organization is looking at where to focus their operational energies in order to remain relevant in the new style of business that is expected today.  Each of us are constrained by our own preconceptions of service management and how it has traditionally and should be measured.

 

Recently, HP produced a paper titled: Link Services to Outcomes that tackles this issue. I am not sure that it went far enough, to drive home the value and shift in behavior and perspective that’s required.

 

I see situations all the time where an organization tries to straddle the line between traditional IT SLAs and more agile IT approaches without ever shifting the measures of success to what business really need – business-based service level.

 

These new kind of partnering efforts need to look for KPIs that the business cares about – the position paper does provide a few of those examples. These need to be key measures of the performance of the business. Another thing the paper brings forward are a few questions you need to ask yourself about your business and what approach it will accept. Is your organization:

  • Mature enough to deploy and fully use an outcomes-oriented service environment?
  • Willing to invest the time and resources needed to align IT and the business model?
  • Able to create and continually use the necessary metrics, thresholds, and reporting systems?

And that is not even covering the issues in the legal and purchasing spaces.

 

One thing that is interesting is how this business measures approach is almost the exact opposite of the public cloud-based service approach where there are few guarantees and the services providers actually don’t want to know anything about your business – at least how it is implemented today. Legal and purchasing may not be involved.

 

I sometimes wonder if those who are committed to one camp or another can see the world from the other perspective or is it totally outside their context.

 

 

Diversity of perspective is needed for IoT efforts

 

crayon.pngLately I’ve been coming across more articles like this one that states: 12 Hurdles Hampering the Internet of Things. It is definitely the case that there are positives and negatives for every new technology. In a previous post: Preventing the IoT from being the Oort cloud of the enterprise, I provided a few of some of these challenges.

 

I realized that there was not much about maximizing the positive benefits and minimizing the negatives. Diversity of perspective plays an important role – after all if we’re all thinking about the problem in the same way, only one of us is really needed. To tackle this problems you need individuals who look at both the business implications and the technology.

 

Like a successful market system, the innovation process has two dynamics: supply and demand. Supply is the reserve of ideas. It’s generated when leadership creates an environment that encourages those in the enterprise ecosystem to bring new ideas forward, to question the status quo. It comes from employees who live and work in that setting.

 

Demand is the organizational expectation of improvement. It’s the process of setting objectives and ensuring that everyone is clear on how they will be measured. It’s about establishing expectations to ‘do even more with more’ using the abundance of capabilities available.

 

For the Internet of Things you need different views on security, those who want to make the most out of the data for good and those who can see the implications of its improper use.

 

I was talking with some folks the other day about completing a Proof of Concept and mentioned to them that a PoC should be designed around answering questions. Sometimes the answers are yes and other times no. They shouldn’t view it as a failure if they don’t get the answer they wanted. The fact that they know something now rather than basing their perspective on supposition means the PoC was a success (even that knowledge can be fleeting though because there is so much change in capability today). Strive for better questions and let the answers fall where they may. Finding the lines is more important than coloring within them.

 

 

Search
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 
Follow Us
Featured
About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
Labels
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.