Ask the IT Consultant

Boston SIM Consultants' Roundtable Blog


February 27, 2011  11:30 AM

Fog Ahead – Migrating Corporate Applications into the Cloud



Posted by: Beth Cohen
Cloud architectures, Cloud migration, enterprise cloud services, hybrid cloud, PaaS, server migration

Question:  I am interested in moving some of my applications to the Cloud.  How can I preserve my software investment while taking advantage of the efficiencies of the Cloud?

One of the many touted reasons for moving applications to the Cloud is to avoid vendor lock-in, so virtual environment independence is essential for any cloud migration.  However, today all the cloud stacks available, EC2, Cloud.com, Terremark, etc., assume that anyone moving into the cloud is creating new servers, building new systems and applications, not migrating their existing application and systems to the cloud.  Yet, many companies interested in cloud migration do not want to incur the costs associated with application level porting of their existing IT investment.  As many companies have discovered, migrating physical or virtual servers and applications directly to the Cloud is not as simple as it might seem on the surface.

The good news is that there are a number of good ways to address this issue.  Which one is the right one for your company is going to be dependent on your specific requirements.  However the basic choices are a full migration of the existing set of systems to a PaaS (Platform as a Service), moving some of the systems to the cloud to create a hybrid environment, or creating a virtual data center in the cloud.  In more complex environments, a mix of the different approaches might be the right answer.

Full migration – This is the approach you would choose if you need to preserve as much of the existing systems as you can.  While you will need to change the IP addressing schemes and not all platforms are supported, this can be a very cost effective method.  The downside is that each cloud environment is somewhat different, so migrations require tools need to have flexibility and are aware of the specific environment.  The number of migration tool products or applications available on the market is surprisingly small.  Once you ignore the specialized migration tools written by the virtualization platform vendors (VMware vCenter Converter and Citrix XenConvert for example), which are obviously not going to work in a cloud environment, and the repurposed backup tools (Acronis Backup and Recovery v10 Advanced Server Virtual Edition and Double-Take Move for example), the number of tools that have automation and multi-platform support is limited to two.  The RiverMeadow Networks ShamanTM Appliance and PlateSpin Migrate are the only two products on the market today that are both automatable and support virtualization platforms other than Hyper-V and VMware.

Virtual data center in the Cloud – Another product on the market, Cloudswitch takes a different approach to complex existing data center environments.  CloudSwitch encapsulates the VM and preserves all of the existing network architecture/topology, including the IP addressing schemes.  The CloudSwitch solution can be very elegant for companies that are not ready to give up on their existing data center infrastructure but want the capability for transparent cloud bursting.  They also offer a great solution for companies that have reason to keep their networks completely private, yet still move their workloads into the Cloud.  Be aware that since the solution adds another layer of abstraction there is some extra overhead.  Of course, the issue of network capacity and the ability to move large data sets across the WAN remains.

Cloud bursting and hybrid environments – For companies that want to use the cloud for augmentation of their existing services the option of taking a portfolio approach to service locations might be the right solution.  The issue with this approach is the potential for incompatibility between the different environments and the limited management tools.  VMware recently announced Cloud Connector, a new tool to manage hybrid environments across venders, but it does require that all the environments be based on the ESX virtualization platform.

Ultimately which migration approach works best is going to be governed more by the existing environment, the business objectives and the limited number of tools to do it right.  As the Enterprise Public Cloud matures, the tools for migration will become more available and better matches to the needs of businesses.

About the Author

Beth Cohen, Cloud Technology Partners, Inc. Moving companies’ IT services into the cloud the right way, the first time!

January 30, 2011  6:45 AM

Will the Cloud Ever Become a Real Utility?



Posted by: Beth Cohen
business IT, cloud computing, Cloud Services, enterprise cloud services, enterprise IT, IT service delivery models, public cloud services, utility computing

Question: There has been lots of press about the cloud can deliver IT services using a utility pay as you go cost model.  Is the utility model a reasonable approach and what will it look like in the future?

Andy Oram recently proposed in, Reaching the pinnacle: truly open web services and clouds, that Cloud services can be and should be free based on Open Source software.  My question in response, can the cloud be really “free”, or is free just going to be as elusive as the free GMail, Google and Facebook services that we all enjoy.  As we well know, none of these services are really free; we are just paying for them by giving away valuable information about our habits to people who want to sell us yet more stuff — Farmville is the perfect example of this phenomenon.  As long as people accept the broadcast TV model with ads in exchange for “free” access, then the balance is maintained.  However, the broadcast TV industry found to its chagrin that a good percentage of consumers are perfectly willing to pay for similar services without the advertisements, much to the delight of Comcast and HBO.  Certainly at the enterprise level, companies have always been willing to pay a premium for IT services, without the ads so to speak.

The final form that cloud services will take and how they will be paid for is rapidly evolving.  Until now computing and IT systems were too complex and fragile to lend themselves to the cloud model.  However as costs have come down and efficiency has gone up, the model is starting to make much economic sense.  Now we are left to figure out a good payment model.  Utilities are never going to be free, but the methods of payment do vary.  There are a number of utility payment models that can be used, the municipal services model, like water, fire and police, the telecommunications model, and the broadcast TV model.

The broadcast TV model is already well established in the consumer space.  People seem to be more than willing to share their deepest private web-surfing habits in exchange for free mail and social media sharing.  I do not see this as a viable model for the enterprise.

Another option is the water model — some municipalities were playing with this approach with the municipal WiFi mesh networks that were all the rage a few years ago.  The reality was that for the most part except in small communities, they never got off the ground due to cost.  This might or might not ever be a viable model for IT services.

The approach which seems to be the one that is currently favored is the Telecommunications approach.  In my opinion for all the cloud hype, what is really going on are utility companies (telecommunications companies in particular) turning computing into a utility.  This model works out to be advantages to everyone, the telecommunications giants and the major cloud vendors make their profits on a service that has reliable “rent roll” as it is called in the business, while the consumers pay for what they need without the brutal upfront capital expenditures required of building their own cloud.

Why is this advantageous to the companies?  Because, as with any other utility, the behind the scenes infrastructure that is needed to run the services is quite complex and expensive, but at the same time the new cloud architectures lend themselves to be sold in elastic quantities so that customers can buy what they need to consume.  Building the infrastructure to run a web server for a tiny personal site is expensive and does not make much economic sense at the individual level.  All this sounds great, but you are giving over your IT infrastructure to, as Ernestine says, TPC (The Phone Company).  More companies are willing to do it simply because it is vastly cheaper than the alternative and the bean counters like moving IT to the expense side of the balance sheet.  Consumers like it because they can access services they never could before for relatively short money.  The risk is that the services that Telecoms provide are generally good, but they are expensive and they are mostly deployed in areas where the companies will make the most profit, so rural and sparsely populated areas get poor coverage.  This is the classic “last mile” problem.  Government subsidized coverage for unprofitable areas might be the way to solve this dilemma. This was an approach that has been successful in the past for enabling access to telephone and electrical services to under-served populations.

In the end, IMHO, as long as we live in a society that values profit and big business over the good of society, I see the telecommunications model as being the most likely to survive.  The question then becomes, how to we ensure that there is equal access to the cloud goodies for all of society and who pays for that access?

About the Author

Beth Cohen, Cloud Technology Partners, Inc. Moving companies’ IT services into the cloud the right way, the first time!


January 23, 2011  9:00 AM

Is Open Source Essential for Cloud Adoption?



Posted by: Beth Cohen
Business Value, Cloud architectures, cloud computing, Cloud Services, enterprise cloud services, Open Souce Software, Open Source, Private Cloud, Public Cloud, utility computing

Question:  Is Open Source essential for widespread Cloud adoption?

Andy Oram’s recent article on Open Source software and cloud architectures, Reaching the pinnacle: truly open web services and clouds, sparked my thinking on how the enterprise view of cloud architectures might be somewhat different.  While much of the public cloud infrastructure is built using Open Source platforms, recent trends show enterprises are embracing a private cloud model built on proprietary systems, such as VMWare, Azure and IBM Cloud.  Certainly the private cloud vendors are encouraging this trend, but is this a temporary aberration on the road to cloud Nirvana or a different animal entirely?

Cloud computing represents a paradigm shift that has been going on for a few years.  IT systems are no longer represent a competitive advantage for a company — that is something to be horded, treasured and developed – but are seen more like something that resembles a toaster, or a better analogy, a phone system.  It is expected it to work flawlessly for a reasonable cost, and everybody needs to have it to function as a business.  At the consumer end — which is where cloud computing started, see my previous blog post, Looking for Business Innovation in all the Right Places, for a better perspective on my thoughts, people don’t care how it works, they want it to be cheap and always available. If you look at Cloud Computing from that perspective, using Open Source has a clear advantage over a proprietary system.

Gmail and Facebook, as Andy notes, are perfect examples of this phenomenon.  These systems are built on Open Source, not because it is better, but because it is cheaper.  One thing that people often overlook, is that Open Source is not free, far from it, just cheaper if you can live with its idiosyncrasies and lack of a company to blame if something goes wrong.  Clearly larger companies with the technical resources can use that to their advantage to build software on the cloud more cheaply.  I would argue that unlike the expected effect of democratizing software availability, Open Source actual has the opposite effect.  Amazon and Google and other large Cloud vendors can take advantage of the Open Source community and resources, while smaller companies are stuck with using more expensive and less flexible commercial products, or they are purchasing downstream services from Amazon and Google.  To drive home my point, ask yourself, who is supporting the Open Source projects and how are they actually getting paid for?

Where does that leave Open Source?  To my mind, it is an enabling technology, pure and simple.  It serves the cloud providers purposes.  If it were cheaper and more useful to build something proprietary they would do it in a minute.  In fact, Google Chrome and the iPhone OS is the latest in the long history of proprietary software that gets turned into de facto standards over time.  As a business strategy it carries higher risk, but far greater payoff.  That is why both Apple and Microsoft have stuck with their proprietary software strategy for so long.  The cloud providers are using Open Source simply because it is not what keeps potential competitors out of the business.  The high cost of building and maintaining data centers is their real strategic advantage.  Why do you think IBM, HP and other old-line high end service providers are jumping on the private cloud bandwagon?  They already have the infrastructure in place, so they are able to take advantage of their relations with the large corporations to build private clouds for their customers.

About the Author

Beth Cohen, Cloud Technology Partners, Inc. Moving companies’ IT services into the cloud the right way, the first time!


December 29, 2010  11:30 PM

The Evolving Role of the IT Manager – Part 2



Posted by: Beth Cohen
business responsibility, Business Value, global IT economy, IT business alignment, IT Innovation, IT management, outsourcing

Question: How can the modern IT manager leverage the new technologies to deliver the most business value to their organization?

Previously I touched on the nature of the IT manager’s role and how it is changing in this new world of sophisticated service delivery, the virtual IT organization, global right sourcing, and a plethora of emerging on-line business models and IT services.  How is it possible for an IT manager to maintain currency in technology while building business skills that can be applied to delivering better IT services to their organization?  To achieve business excellence, what is needed is a different understanding of the both role of IT within the organization and how IT has transformed business in general.

Once IT is a commodity as an IT manager, keeping up on the latest technical skills is like chasing rainbows – there is no pot of gold, just more rainbows.  Despite what Nicholas Carr said in 2003 about IT not mattering anymore, in fact most people agree that it matters a great deal.  However, why and how it matters has changed.  Since IT is no longer a competitive advantage, but a requirement for any successful business, it is vital that IT managers gain understanding and skills in the fundamental business processes of their market segment or industry.  In my thinking, this needs to take precedence over technical skills.  Ironically, in many ways we are moving away from the IT specialist roles of the past 20 years and back towards industry subject matter experts who have enough IT knowledge to apply it in creative ways.  The combination of an expertise in a specific vertical industry and a general technical understanding is far more desirable to industry hiring managers than a deep proficiency in IT skills.  This works because in a labor market where general IT technical skills are easily obtained for relatively little money from a worldwide labor market and the majority of IT systems and services are commodities in the cloud, the real value comes from a deep understanding of how to apply IT to business problems.  Leave the deep technical projects to the IT specialists and outsourcers, but use business skills to apply IT to solve business problems and advance organizational objectives.

The best way to gain those skills is to concentrate on learning business skills.  What people often forget is the business skills are not just what you learn in school, although taking business classes in finance, project management and/or business processes will certainly help.  The more important business skills that must truly be learned on the job are the so called soft skills, such as project management, organization and general management, sales and leadership.  With this combination, an IT manager will be able to stay competitive in the new business world order.

About the Author

Beth Cohen, Cloud Technology Partners, Inc. Moving companies’ IT services into the cloud the right way, the first time!


November 30, 2010  3:00 AM

The Evolving Role of the IT Manager – Part 1



Posted by: Beth Cohen
Cloud IT, IT management, IT portfolio management, technology innovation

Question: With emerging cloud technologies and more outsourcing than ever, how can IT executives benefit from understanding the forces that are shaping the new paradigms of IT service delivery?

As the world starts climbing out of the worse recession in 60 years, the pressure to deliver more for less has never been more intense.  Business executives are being asked to increase the productivity and efficiency of their organizations and drive ever higher profit margins.  In response, IT managers who have been producing miracles and driving down the cost of IT services while increasing the efficiency of companies for over 10 years, need to add yet more skills to their already overflowing laundry list.

Ironically, while IT does hold down labor costs and streamline business operations, and is clearly vital to any company’s survival, IT managers are still being asked to squeeze out yet more efficiency, while retaining the flexibility demanded of the modern commercial organization.  This pressure has given us: just in time inventory management and streamlined supply chains, decision support systems to allow for faster strategic business decisions based on real-time information about business performance, the virtual IT organization, global right sourcing, and a plethora of on-line business models and IT services to choose from.  If cloud technologies and outsourcing are viewed as more efficient services delivery models that offer flexibility and an expense cost model, the savvy IT manager can embrace the possibilities without sacrificing a leadership role in the organization.

For the IT manager who needs to achieve this level of services sophistication, it is no longer enough to be broadly literal in all the many technologies that make up the modern IT infrastructure.  Now it is even more important that the average IT executive gain a deep understanding of their company’s industry and organizational objectives, combined with an ability and understanding of IT portfolio management, project management, contract management, politics and leadership.  With this formidable combination of skills, an IT leader is ready to apply their strategic understanding of their company’s business to choosing the right IT services to their organization.

So, how are you going build those vital business skills, without sacrificing your technology currency?

About the Author

Beth Cohen, Cloud Technology Partners, Inc. Moving companies’ IT services into the cloud the right way, the first time!


November 10, 2010  12:00 PM

Learning to Leverage Business Expertise to Stay Competitive – Part 2



Posted by: ITKE
Business Value, IT business alignment, IT Innovation, IT Leadership, ROI

Learning to Leverage Business Expertise to Stay Competitive – Part 2

Question: As businesses become increasingly sophisticated, how can IT knowledge workers gain the business knowledge to remain competitive?

Part one was a discussion of the reasons why IT knowledge workers need to understand the businesses they deliver services it, we will now dive into how the CIO, as the person who has the best understanding of the business challenges in an organization can drive that change in attitude.  Most change occurs from the top down, which means that CIO’s, must lead the shift in perspective from technology to business in their organizations.

To get started, create a vision for the future where IT professionals are champions for applying technology in your business.  This image serves as a vivid picture of a positive future where the IT department and all IT professionals enjoy a strong reputation for helping the organization use technology to serve its customers significantly better than the competition.  This is not just your ideal but the vision for all IT professionals.  This will create a common purpose and an emotional connection of each IT professional in your organization.

If the reputation of your IT organization is not strong, convince an influential business colleague to partner with you to enhance IT’s value through their increased business knowledge.  The success of this partnership will encourage other business leaders to work more closely with IT for mutual benefit for everyone.  Hold a meeting to unveil your vision for the future and brainstorm ideas to bring it about with the entire IT department AND your influential business colleague.  You and your business colleague must be prepared to answer questions about this vision and your joint commitment to make it happen.  You will want all employees to contribute ideas during the brainstorming session, so invite a good facilitator to help  get everyone contributing to the discussion.  Use your training department’s expertise and knowledge of techniques for accelerating learning and knowledge transfer.  Remember to consider all ideas and get the employees to decide which are best to move ahead.  Produce a “roadmap” of activities and intentional actions to increase business knowledge in an aggressive but achievable timeframe.  This will reinforce your commitment AND show everyone the path forward.

One CIO who I know created an “academy” to change the mindset of his department and increase the value to his $2 billion business services company.  He partnered with his training department to develop a four month program for all IT personnel and used training, mentoring, role-playing and roundtable discussion to foster learning and skill development.

There are myriad ways to enhance business knowledge.  The key is to stimulate the desire in each IT practitioner to do so AND implement a predictable plan that employees can trust to occur.  Do not forget to incorporate incentives (recognition and rewards) for expanding business knowledge.   Remember, you need a climate of trust within the IT department and beyond IT to achieve success.  To quote Peter Drucker from his from his book Management Challenges for the 21st Century (HarperCollins, 1999): “Organizations are no longer built on force but on trust.  The existence of trust between people does not necessarily mean that they like one another. It means that they understand one another.”  Work with your IT professionals to strengthen their understanding of their business colleagues and increase IT’s value to your company.

About the Author

Robert Johnson, Director of Product Marketing at Atrion Networking Corporation where he’s responsible for market analysis, developing new products and co-leading the company’s managed services business line. Robert is a veteran of the IT industry having held executive strategy and marketing positions with CGI Inc., Deloitte Consulting and Digital Equipment Corp.


October 30, 2010  11:30 AM

Learning to Leverage Business Expertise to Stay Competitive – Part 1



Posted by: ITKE
business responsibility, Business Value, IT business alignment, IT Innovation, IT Leadership, leveraging IT investment, ROI, Systems innovation

Question: As businesses become increasingly sophisticated, how can IT knowledge workers gain the business knowledge to remain competitive?

Companies are increasingly using information technology to sell more products, grow their business and improve their bottom line.  For example, online banking gives customers more convenient access to their accounts while lowering costs for retail banks.  Retail banking is now a 24x7x365 business.  Retailers use technology to track store inventory, monitor daily sales and manage their workforce, all of which has increased sales per square foot.  However, when retail store personnel are unable to access the systems, sales grind to a halt.  This increased dependence on technology has upped the ante for the IT department.

In this new highly competitive business environment, IT must be both user centric and be able to keep systems running smoothly around the clock.   In order to effectively support users and remain competitive, IT personnel need to increase their business knowledge for the following reasons:

  • Technology is fused with business processes – For example, a retail clerk uses a store inventory system to search for a customer requested item
  • The IT department must empower people so that they can be as productive as possible
  • IT workers must champion technologies that open new markets, increase “wallet share” with existing customers, and improve customer service

When these three points are applied, everyone wins – - customers, suppliers, shareholders, and employees.  IT workers typically are the rare individuals in an organization that can really make technology “sing and dance.” Unfortunately, few IT workers have sufficient business knowledge to help users get the most out of the technology to achieve the outstanding business results they are looking for.

Perspective is the secret sauce that is missing from IT workers ability to boost their business knowledge.  Traditionally, IT professionals have pursued and been rewarded for increasing technical their knowledge, not their business acumen.  Moreover, many IT practitioners are technology elitists who do not appreciate why their business colleagues do not “understand  IT”.  While IT is the steward of technology, it is the responsibility of IT workers to convey to their companies how to best leverage that expensive IT systems investment.   In today’s world, technology is fused with business so it is time for all IT professionals to step up to the plate and “understand business”.  The next installment will discuss how IT leaders can drive that needed change in perspective within their organization.

About the Author

Robert Johnson, Director of Product Marketing at Atrion Networking Corporation where he’s responsible for market analysis, developing new products and co-leading the company’s managed services business line. Robert is a veteran of the IT industry having held executive strategy and marketing positions with CGI Inc., Deloitte Consulting and Digital Equipment Corp.


September 30, 2010  8:30 PM

Leveraging Cloud Storage – A New Data Paradigm



Posted by: Beth Cohen
Cloud architectures, cloud computing, Cloud Data Storage, Cloud security, IT Innovation

Question: How will cloud computing architectures affect access and manipulation of my data? Will being on the cloud carry more risk than I already have?

Recently I had an eye-opening experience.  I asked my sophomore business IT class how many of them owned various computing devices.  Unsurprisingly, 100% of them would not be caught dead without their Smart-Phone.  The majority had either Droids or iPhones, with a few Blackberries in the mix — sorry HP, the Palm is dead unless you hustle to catch up soon.  About 40% of them had an iPad or other tablet device in addition to their laptops.  Interesting that they thought nothing of owning three, what in my mind are, devices with similar functions.

I then asked the students if they were concerned with syncing all their information between all the different devices.  They looked at me rather puzzled.  They were not concerned because to them, the Smart-phone, tablets and laptops were just methods to connect to their data.  As far as they were concerned the authoritative copy of the data was located safely in the cloud, as it should be.  The devices to them were merely dumb terminals – although I am quite sure they would not even understand just what that meant.  What is important for the enterprise IT organization is that these twenty year-olds have made an important shift in thinking about how and where data is stored; a paradigm that we all need to accept and embrace to realize the real power of the cloud for the enterprise.

For all those people who think their data is safely stored on servers that are buried deep inside their protected LAN, their heads buried in the sand.  If you have data and you work with suppliers, customers, or employees, your data is out there on the cloud whether you like it or not.  Yes, you should be concerned with protecting that data properly, but the answer is not to install yet more firewalls and layers of obscurity.  The answer is to design the right architectures and the correct security to assure that the data is always available to the right people at the right time and at the right location.  My students, all future business leaders, have gotten the message, why haven’t the rest of us?  Maybe it is because too many IT people realize the inevitability of change, and how moving to the cloud spells doom for the old monolithic IT shops.

About the Author

Beth Cohen, Cloud Technology Partners, Inc.


August 12, 2010  2:00 AM

The Cloud Attic – Leveraging Cloud Storage Solutions



Posted by: Beth Cohen
Cloud Services, cloud storage, enterprise architectures, enterprise cloud services, IT Innovation, IT ROI

Question: What are the benefits of using the cloud for my business’s storage requirements?  What technologies and solutions are available that addresses my needs for security, data integrity, elasticity and reduced costs?

There is no question that in today’s regulatory climate, businesses both large and small are data hungry.  Some industries, such as financial services, insurance and health care where preserving business or client records essentially forever is now common practice, storage needs can easily grow 50-100% per year.  Even a relatively small company could have 20-30 terabytes of data to store and protect.  For companies looking to reduce storage costs, the cloud offers some options.

Moving data storage to the cloud is both obvious and counter intuitive at the same time.  For mid-sized businesses and consumers, the appeal of using the cloud as a very large attic to throw all your archives is very appealing.  Consumer grade cloud backup services for relatively small data sets – under 20GB, are amazingly cheap.  However, for the enterprise, where the stakes for data loss and security are considerably higher, end user oriented products just will not do.  Most products in the enterprise cloud storage space break into four buckets:

Cloud Storage Management Tools – Software designed for the cloud providers and enterprises that want to take advantage of the cloud’s elasticity and need for a higher level of systems abstraction.  Software offerings from Bycast, Cleversafe and Parascale provide tools to slice and dice available SAN/NAS systems on the fly, multi-tenant secure partitioning, charge-back capabilities and virtual server support.

Cloud Ready Storage Hardware – Storage hardware with new software designed to handle the unique demands of cloud storage.  EMC, NetApp and IBM have all announced or are selling products with cloud enabled features.  Most are being pitched at nervous enterprises that are not willing to give up their overbuilt hardware and data center centric security blankets for the public cloud.

Wholesale Cloud Storage Services – These are true cloud storage services that are amazingly cheap (around $0.25/GB per month), but they are designed for either value added resellers or the enterprise that is looking for really cheap storage for archiving, data replication or short-term storage requirements.  Rackspace, Nirvanix, Amazon S3 and Ceedien all offer no-frills raw cloud storage services.  For very large data sets, watch out for bandwidth issues and extra charges for data movement that can quickly negate the low initial price.

Targeted Cloud Storage Services – Retail cloud storage offerings designed to appeal to specific market segments.  Nasumi and Egnyte are both companies that are selling file servers in the cloud to the small business market.  Their products are built on top of wholesale cloud storage services, essentially one more layer of abstraction.  Expect an explosion of products in this space as entrepreneurs dream up ingenious new ways to provide cloud storage services.

So far the enterprise has been dipping its toes in the cloud storage waters.  On-line backup, email archiving, Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), cloud bursting and replication are the most popular services so far, and there are real cost savings to be found.  Until WAN optimization becomes widespread in the public cloud, the shear size of the data sets involved will put a damper on rapid data movement and storage cloud bursting opportunities.

Cloud storage solutions are still a work in progress, but expect to see rapid improvements in data migration optimization, distributed data stores and multi-tenant security in the next 6-12 months as vendors start rolling out more sophisticated cloud storage services that meet the more complex requirements of the enterprise.

About the Author

Beth Cohen, Cloud Technology Partners, Inc.


August 4, 2010  8:00 PM

Report from the Clouds



Posted by: Beth Cohen
cloud computing, Cloud security, Cloud Services, Enterprise computing, Enterprise security, IT architectures, SaaS, technology innovation

Question:  The hype about Cloud computing is reaching fever pitch.  Is cloud computing just recycled technology, or is there something really innovative and new?

Last week I attended a great little Unconference called CloudCamp Boston.  For those who are interested separating the hype from the reality of cloud computing this was the happening place to be.  Unlike the previous Boston CloudCamp, where the attendees were  mostly tire-kicking enterprise architects or vendors who were seeing their core markets drying up as so many of their customers, if they were not buying cloud services yet, are hesitating on investing on what is increasingly seen as the legacy technologies of client/server based applications.

This time the majority of attendees were serious engineers and architects, who have the skills and vision to turn the enterprise cloud buzz into working IT infrastructures that will save companies substantial money, while delivering on the elasticity without compromising security or performance.  With the CloudCamp’s 120 some odd visionary IT architects, the nine top hot topics were in no particular order:

  • Interoperability – Now that cloud is here, how are we going to get all the applications to work together in our IT portfolios?
  • Security – The perennial favorite.  Now that we cannot pin down the exact location of the data, how can we protect it from the legal, physical and business perspectives?
  • Cloud Abstraction – A new topic.  The visionaries are starting to ask the hard questions about how much you can actual abstract your IT infrastructure without losing sight of the practicalities of running an organization on it.  I am starting to see so much abstraction with the multiple vendors and layers, it easy to lose sight of the fundamental issues.
  • Enterprise Reference Model for Cloud – We need to develop a set of best practices for what belongs on the cloud and how to work in the cloud at the enterprise level.
  • Cloud to Cloud Data Integration – Related to interoperability, but this asks how we can automate pushing data through different cloud apps on the fly, a very sophisticated question indeed.
  • Bandwidth – Now that we have moved to the cloud to save money of infrastructure, have we just shifted our headaches and costs to your friendly local telecommunications provider?  Is there a case for WAN optimization on the cloud?
  • Reconciling Public Cloud Infrastructures with Enterprise Requirements – Is the Enterprise forced to move to the private cloud model, that IBM, HP and EMC’s Acadia are prompting, or are there ways to capitalize on the public cloud without compromising data security and integrity?
  • Cloud Migration Best Practices – Developing business processes that allow mapping a cloud strategy to the business strategy.  What metrics make the most sense, ROI, value, culture, comfort level with outsourcing solutions in general.  What is the actual migration process look like?
  • Missing Technologies and Gaps – Very interesting topic that gets to the heart of the fact that we cannot rely on older technologies to cloud scale.

In the coming weeks, I will be writing more on some of these topics.  I for one was very impressed with the passion and knowledge that the attendees brought to the proceedings.

About the Author

Beth Cohen, Cloud Technology Partners, Inc.


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