By John Cummings
In a post to this blog on Monday (titled Is Your Network Ready for Cloud Computing? Here’s How To Find Out), Enterprise Network Architect Jose Cornejo described the Assessment for Cloud Ready Networking, a new service that HP is highlighting at VMworld 2011 this week. In his work with customers of HP Network Consulting Services, he finds that IT pros often have a solid grasp of the benefits of implementing cloud network computing services, but don’t know where to start. I caught up with Cornejo to learn more about the early stages of the ascent to maturity for the network.
John Cummings: So what does the Cloud mean for the network?
Jose Cornejo: What it means is being able to achieve a very high maturity level across your people, processes and technologies. In order to be able to gain the benefits of cloud and cloud-based services, many organizations have to update their existing infrastructure, update their policies and procedures, and train their people. It's like a three-legged stool; if you’re missing one of the legs it’s not going to work. It's not enough to have the right type of automation and business systems in place if your people and processes are not in place.
Cummings: On the people side of the equation, you’ve written that organizations that rank low on the maturity scale are often characterized by having “competency heroes.” That sounds like a good thing, but I'm guessing it is not!
Cornejo: A competency hero is the person that everybody goes to when they need to fix a problem. Whenever there’s an issue they call upon this person, who comes in and magically resolves the problem. And then everything works okay until the next time, when the hero has to come back and save the day again.
This tells you that you have some underlying issue that’s just being patched or mitigated for a short period of time. It also says that you don't have well documented processes and enough people who understand that particular architecture to be able to address the problem, because now all of a sudden your hero happens to be on vacation or decides to walk away from the job, and now the company is extremely vulnerable.
Unfortunately most organizations don't realize this until it's very late. They have a massive outage or something, and then they’re surprised to learn that this issue has been lingering for quite some time. When the rest of the staff are asked to step in and help, their response is: “What? We don't know anything about it because this other person always did it.”
Cummings: Once a company has moved beyond that stage and it has the right policies and people in place, what's the next stage as it continues to develop its maturity?
Cornejo: Once the documentation is in place it has to be validated. It's not enough to have documentation if the information is either outdated or inconsistent. You have to validate that the information that you have outlined is actually applicable to the situation. It has to be tested with someone who did not write the document, someone who’s looking at it for the first time and is able to make sense of the material and apply it to a practical problem.
Cummings: There has to be an ongoing check on the information, some kind of institutionalized way of making sure that it sticks.
Cornejo: Absolutely. The other thing that you want to do is to make sure that it's in a public place where it's easily accessible. One of the things I run into is that there’s great documentation, but when you ask “Where is the central repository?” the answer is “Well, there is no central repository, it resides on the hard drive of an individual who is not in the office today.”
Cummings: So you’re basically back to square one!
Cornejo: Exactly. Unfortunately most organizations don't have a centralized repository, for a number of reasons, and that’s one of the biggest issues that can actually bring an organization down. It also prevents them from being able to build beyond what they already have. If an organization in the most fundamental sense lacks documentation to represent what they have in place, what leads us to believe that they will have any collateral to share or to be able to review as they work at making projections for the future? How can they create a blueprint for what they want to do moving forward? This is one of the things that lead you to suspect that, from a maturity perspective, they are still in the early stages.
John Cummings is Editorial Engine editor for Technology Services.