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.

Bringing service innovation/customization home…

TV.pngI mentioned at the end of last year that I thought 2015 was going to be the year of service innovation. One thing that brought that home (literally) to me was when I got a new TV for Christmas. It had a development environment and store where I could create my own apps that run in the TV and interact with the user.

 

I didn’t get a chance to play with it much, once I figured out how to create apps, but it did make me wonder about the potential for services that were never possible before. The age of passive TV viewing of just what is sent to us seems to be drawing to a close.

Why is the IoT viewed with such potential and confusion?

Internet of things.pngThere is a fundamental shift underway from dumb devices where organizations guess about how their being used, when and by whom. Now a physical product (from almost any industry) has the potential to be a first-class participant in its own value chain. It can talk back to its creators in engineering and manufacturing as well as those who service it, cutting downtime and improving its use. It has the potential to talk with (where everyone seems to be focused) those that actually use it, making their life better and more productive. There is also the potential to collaborate with sales and marketing to share what users are thinking based on where, when and how it’s used. Devices/products are becoming members of an environmental view of the context that surrounds them. Although it involves information technology, it is about a shift in business value.

 

This challenges the foundations of many of our existing products and services. Devices can have an active role in CRM and marketing. We can shift the analytics view from the past to the future. We can use the information to gamify processes and shift behaviors. As this understanding increases, what is measured and the decisions made will shift.

 

As I mentioned last month, the impact on our definition of services will shift as we understand and embrace the potential. This change will shift much of what exists (people, products and services) in our environment/industry.

As-A-Service in 2015

BYOS 2.pngAs I was thinking about the changes that will be taking place in 2015 when as-a-services shifts from a buzzword to a core element of nearly every business. I reflected back on Horses for Sources and The Ten Tenets Driving the As-a-Service Economy post they put out last month.

 

One of the biggest changes I see that organizations are going to internalize in 2015 is that As-a-Service is not really technology driven, it is technology enabled. The business needs drive this going forward, not technology since we’re all expecting greater flexibility, transparency and improvements in time-to-action. Technology is a side-effect of meeting that demand and generating value.

 

Of course the employees of the company are going to do thier share to drive things forward as well.

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.

 

 

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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.
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