By John Cummings
In the second part of this Q&A with John Cummings (see the first part: Building the Foundation for the Cloud Ready Network), Enterprise Network Architect Jose Cornejo discusses the higher levels of the ascent to cloud-ready maturity.
Cummings: What does the organization look like as it approaches maturity and readiness for cloud services?
Cornejo: Well, you think about a utility-based model where you have appropriate instrumentation in place, you have backups and recovery mechanisms in place, you have people who are adequately trained and skilled and who are able to address issues from a best-practice perspective. You have well documented and up-to-speed documentation information that’s held in a central repository and backed up on a regular basis so that if that particular media becomes unavailable you can quickly and easily restore it.
It also implies that you have processes in place that you follow and that you can execute upon in the event of an emergency across multiple areas. It implies that your system has alternate or recovery paths that are automatic so that if an aspect or a portion of the network goes down, the system will automatically recognize that there’s a failure and reroute traffic via an alternate path without any manual intervention.
Cummings: Another characteristic of this state is that it’s “business-centric.” Can you expand on that a little?
Cornejo: This means that you have a good understanding of the key business systems and the cause-and-effect relationship with your network. For example, if you rely on several high-speed connections to some key mission-critical systems, and half of them go down because of a device becoming unavailable, you understand the impact to your business systems. Is that going to drive utilization up 100 percent? Is that proportional? Are you running at 25 percent or 50 percent on both sides, so that should you break one link you can run at the same level? Or will you be running at a reduced level, where you’re able to process key business applications, but other things that are considered less mission-critical are going to be slowed down?
Cummings: You know how soon you would reach a point where you’re going to start losing money.
Cornejo: Yes. These are the things you need to understand. It’s really important that the IT organization should develop its business acumen and the ability to offer this kind of insight to the business at large, but it generally takes time to achieve this. Maturity doesn’t arrive overnight. IT teams that decide to accelerate this aspect of their development have a tremendous opportunity to add value by building a solid understanding of how the decisions they make relate to the business systems that they’re making available.
Once you reach that point, you’re able to have a businesslike discussion with the leadership team to help them understand that failure to invest in certain areas will result in x amount of revenue loss because all of a sudden your transactions are running at half speed. You’re able to produce adequate business cases to explain why an investment needs to be made.
We’ve found that the most successful IT organizations understand that they have a vested interest in learning more about the business so that they can have a better appreciation not only how the company works, but of how IT works for the company. That level of business acumen gives you the opportunity to better serve your customers, which is part of the reason why most executives who move up in the IT area are folks who come up through the application space. They learn about the business because the applications essentially ride whatever business processes they’re needed for, so it’s no surprise they can more easily move into key roles.
But there’s no reason why the strictly technical people, the folks who deal only with the infrastructure, shouldn’t have the same kind of career opportunities.
John Cummings is Editorial Engine editor for Technology Services.