Grounded in the Cloud
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Get Off My Cloud


By Roger Lawrence, CTO Stategic Enterprise Services - HP South Pacific


We’ve already spoken about “Vendor Contestability” and this is certainly the nirvana we’d like to get to in the future for computing delivery. This is essentially the idea that we can seamlessly shift between providers at close to zero expense. 


Imagine if you could shift between clouds like you do with mobile phone providers. There may be contract penalties to pay the incumbent provider, (this is not applicable with pre-paid providers). But, the actual porting of the number, de-provisioning one service and provisioning another, is close to immediate, and free. 


Also, it doesn’t matter which device you own. 3G service to a Nokia feature phone works just as well with an Apple smart phone.


So there’s the holy grail of what cloud could look like.


Let’s look at it differently and relate your cloud journey to a typical transportation scenario. When you consider the economic benefits of the cloud, you don’t simply consider getting on the bus (Cloud), but you also have to consider getting off at some stage in the future. Perhaps you’ll want to get on another bus or maybe you’ll hire a car, or buy one.


Rather than comparing cloud applications to transportation or mobile phones, which despite allowing us to understand these concepts, do a disservice because they over-simplify the case. Instead let’s consider property.


An enterprise will deliver property facilities in a number of ways, from furnishing a home-office, leasing perhaps offices, renting project accommodation and owning land. As we move from owning to renting, we need to consider moving all of the people and equipment to the new facilities. 


We also need to remember the task of moving them out again should we want to rent other facilities.


There are a couple of points to note when considering getting off cloud:

  • Prior to signing contracts (or accepting EULA’s (End User Licence Agreements and cloud Terms and Conditions) make sure there are no termination penalties.
  • When architecting your systems in the cloud (IaaS and PaaS) or determining which SaaS applications to use, work to the principle of zero dependencies. For example— don’t choose a CRM application if this ties you in to a particular inflexible or expensive authentication system. Of course complex enterprise applications all have dependencies (authentication, security, database, BUR etc.) so consider carefully the dependent systems, licensing and support agreements, as well as any future costs to transform.
  • Consider capacity management trends. The cost of transforming current workloads may well be less than shifting workloads affected by future growth.

We have to strike a balance between the agility and standardisation of architectures enforced by cloud computing, and the strict governance and flexibility provided by traditional modes of delivery.


So when putting together the business case for a particular workload, remember to consider the potential or opportunity cost to de-provision this workload as well. This final step is the first step to future progress.

There is no difference between theory and practice, in theory....
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About the Author


Roger has been trying to get out of Information Technology since programming COBOL on mainframes in the late '80's. But no matter in which continent he awoke, or whom employed him, his passion to enable people with technology was constant. So now he enables businesses to determine their strategy using the latest technologies like cloud computing, mobility, and big data. HP calls these Strategic Enterprise Services, Roger calls them "another day in the office."

Jan 30-31, 2018
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