The Troposphere

Feb 16 2012   2:30AM GMT

Making cloud viral in your enterprise

Michelle Boisvert Michelle Boisvert Profile: Michelle Boisvert

IT teams understand the cloud model and are trying to realize its economic benefits.

But what really drives cloud computing is end users’ expectation to have access to everything, all of the time, according to Geva Perry, author of the blog Thinking Out Cloud, at the Cloud Connect conference in Santa Clara, Calif., this week.

Consumerization of IT as well as democratization of IT and the trend of “millennial entitlement,” a younger end-user base that expects everything to just work, to be connected and accessible from anywhere, makes the cloud more relevant than ever, Perry said.

“Cloud is on-demand, it’s there, it has low upfront costs and that makes it easy for folks to adopt it.” Perry said. He claims enterprise IT has warmed to cloud as well, as IT pros find ways to make it work by minimizing friction, creating self-service and building and designing products in a way that encourages use.

After cloud makes its way into the enterprise, how can IT teams keep applications running seamlessly while still protecting consumers and end users? Plan, test and prepare for the worst.

Bill Gillis, director of eHealth Technologies at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston, relies on virtual patching. “Our website [BIDMC.org] is attacked every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day,” said Gillis. And those attacks are only increasing. The health care provider relies on TrendMicro’s Deep Security app to secure its cloud, which includes a network of 1,500 physicians.

And as Beth Israel Deaconess grows to include more physician networks — and it will, as it expects to increase to 500 practices by the end of this year — Gillis plans to run to a mix of public and private clouds as well as virtual desktops to help control end points. “So we will just basically provide a URL to our physicians and it’s full virtualization.”

Don’t fear a cloud failure, prepare for it

The need for cloud managers to prepare was advice echoed all day at the conference. “Complexity always increases. Latency defects accumulate and will cause crazy failures to happen,” said Jesse Robbins, cofounder of Opscode.

Sure, outages happen. Robbins’ advice? Adopt resilience engineering, a practice often used in industries such as aviation, space transportation, health care and manufacturing, in which IT failures could be catastrophic to human life. The first step to do this is to “automate all the things.”

By allowing the cloud to run as automated as possible, IT staff can quickly see where failures will occur. Involve all departments in testing and load balancing. Gone are the days when IT simply threw things over the wall for testing. The DevOps culture is now, and it has its benefits in cloud.

Only after all teams are on board can cloud admins focus on reliability, specifically mean time to fail (MTTF) and not just mean time to recover. Remember, failures will happen eventually. “Automate all the things, test what you do and press the buttons,” Robbins concluded.

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