|By Brian McCallion||
|March 9, 2014 04:00 PM EDT||
My first experience with an "inverted yield curve" was in 2000 just prior to the tech bubble bursting. I was working on a financial portal for an investment bank and one of the charts was a yield curve. It looked odd all of a sudden, so I looked it up in a book of financial terms. An inverted yield is indicated when interest rates for short-term capital are higher than interest rates for long-term capital. In other words, people are willing to pay a significant price to alleviate short-term concerns because they're focused on the now and not so concerned about one year, three years, five years, or thirty years from now. Inverted yield curves some believe signal disruption in financial markets. On the surface, Cloud First seems to signal the disruption that is cloud computing. To take this metaphor a little further, this inversion of Cloud First from "Cloud Never" suggests to me an inverted set of concerns. Does Cloud First prioritize an immediate need to say "something" about the cloud and cloud strategy? Does Cloud First prioritize the now while discounting near, mid, and long-term opportunities that far exceed the "costs less, more agile, faster time-to-market" recording I hear played daily throughout the blogosphere? Beyond saying "Cloud First!" what else can enterprise technology teams prioritize that may amplify their ability to execute in the cloud?
One of the primary strengths of "Cloud First" is the simplicity:
Q: "Hey, where do we deploy the new financial system?"
A: "Put it in the cloud."
Yet the real power of Cloud First lies in the underlying recognition that details and choices, as they filter down through multiple levels of management, quickly become confusing. On many levels in corporate IT I get the sense that the more details provided, the more likely things will go forth along an unintended arc.
Cloud First reminds me of the trailer from the movie "Face Off" starring Nicholas Cage and John Travolta, in which they actually do trade faces for a while. The best thing about the title of the movie is that you know something pretty amazing (and possibly horrifying) is going to happen and it grabs your attention. Cloud First? - same thing - it's got everyone's attention: we're unleashing the monster the media has been warning you about and it's too late to turn back. If we need to do a sequel we'll call it "Mobile First."
What Does Cloud First Look Like?
What Cloud First lacks that the movie title "Face Off" owns is the power to place a clear mental image in the mind of its audience. In a Cloud First organization where I worked, to give meaning to the mantra, I invited guest speakers from successful cloud startups to present their business and talk about cloud. One of my favorite speakers was Stephane Dubois, CEO of Xignite, a cloud market data service that serves billions of requests per month. Xignite's business model of serving data to the underserved "long tail" of the market as well as creating a network effect that multiplies the value of the data in the cloud demonstrates opportunities executives need to keep in sharp focus and track closely. In this way Xignite is a great technology example in a "relatable" industry that values uptime. By bringing in business leaders to present what they're doing in a "serious" business, CIOs and business leaders can build a vision of what success in the cloud might look like for their business.
What Does Cloud First Lack?
What Cloud First lacks in specificity of mission, it also lacks in implementation guidelines. This lack of specific guidelines could be a strength. Or, if you play with the words a little you might work out that Cloud First means "consume cloud services first," and never build or drag data center technology across a VPN or otherwise contaminate the cloud with infrastructure crushed under the weight of the interest on 20 or more years of accumulated technical debt. But since nobody I've met in corporate IT seems to arrive at that interpretation of Cloud First organically, I've provided some guidelines.
Whatever cloud you're on, try to consume cloud services. As an architect, specifying services rather than asking teams brand new to cloud to quickly build robust, highly available databases that will withstand the rolling outages of a year like 2012 is really unfair, and it just won't happen. It's like the scene in "Kill Bill" where the "Crazy 88" suddenly demand 20 pizzas in a Sushi restaurant. It will just exasperate people and make them go, well, crazy. In cases where an Oracle RAC database was absolutely necessary I solved the problem by defining an architecture in which the application layer ran in the cloud, but the database ran "close" to the cloud via a low latency fiber cross-connect. I don't suggest you try this unless there's no other option, as was the case in 2011 when I worked on that solution.
In other words, it's really difficult for IT teams in large corporations to suddenly build highly available databases in the cloud. I've seen it end very badly even when implemented by good people. In many cases the services available in the cloud have the scalability and availability "wrapped" into the service. Similar to the way Linux succeeded largely because "with enough eyes all bugs are shallow," perhaps the cloud manifesto is that given enough implementations and users, a cloud services performance and availability will blow away a one-off, bespoke database implementation built by a team new to cloud. Not building services from scratch may not be as much fun or as hard core as what the cool startups do, but you'll have plenty of interesting things to figure out without building everything from the ground up. One of the rules of Cloud First is to focus your team's energy and avoid fighting battles on soggy unfamiliar ground. One of the more subtle messages of Cloud First is that a key element of a corporate cloud strategy is to avoid building stuff from scratch unless you have zero other options. People may work very hard to convince you to do otherwise, but stick to cloud services first.
Cloud First Doesn't Just Apply to Applications. It Needs to Apply to Infrastructure as Well
The cloud seems to be all about application developers. Yet corporate IT could be more Cloud First focused. I just don't see enough IT organizations following Cloud First when it comes to DNS services, storage services for offsite data backup, content distribution, or disaster recovery. Some CIOs really do follow a Cloud First strategy and make it meaningful. For example, one of my forward-thinking CIO customers first asked his team how they could leverage cloud storage to replace an ailing file server. (No Nirvanix jokes please.)
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
Jul. 24, 2016 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,842
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 24, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,044
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Jul. 24, 2016 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,683
With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...
Jul. 24, 2016 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,924
"We are a well-established player in the application life cycle management market and we also have a very strong version control product," stated Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet,, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 24, 2016 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,751
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
Jul. 24, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,019
Unless your company can spend a lot of money on new technology, re-engineering your environment and hiring a comprehensive cybersecurity team, you will most likely move to the cloud or seek external service partnerships. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, revealed what you need to know when it comes to encryption in the cloud.
Jul. 24, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,347
What are the successful IoT innovations from emerging markets? What are the unique challenges and opportunities from these markets? How did the constraints in connectivity among others lead to groundbreaking insights? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Carmen Feliciano, a Principal at AMDG, will answer all these questions and share how you can apply IoT best practices and frameworks from the emerging markets to your own business.
Jul. 24, 2016 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,542
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
Jul. 24, 2016 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,723
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Jul. 24, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 894
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Jul. 24, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,669
Traditional IT, great for stable systems of record, is struggling to cope with newer, agile systems of engagement requirements coming straight from the business. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, William Morrish, General Manager of Product Sales at Interoute, outlined ways of exploiting new architectures to enable both systems and building them to support your existing platforms, with an eye for the future. Technologies such as Docker and the hyper-convergence of computing, networking and sto...
Jul. 24, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,008
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
Jul. 24, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 761
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, discussed the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filterin...
Jul. 24, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,188
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
Jul. 24, 2016 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 811
Early adopters of IoT viewed it mainly as a different term for machine-to-machine connectivity or M2M. This is understandable since a prerequisite for any IoT solution is the ability to collect and aggregate device data, which is most often presented in a dashboard. The problem is that viewing data in a dashboard requires a human to interpret the results and take manual action, which doesn’t scale to the needs of IoT.
Jul. 24, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,880
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jul. 24, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,890
Much of IT terminology is often misused and misapplied. Modernization and transformation are two such terms. They are often used interchangeably even though they mean different things and have very different connotations. Indeed, it is somewhat safe to assume that in IT any transformative effort is likely to also have a modernizing effect, and thus, we can see these as levels of improvement efforts. However, many businesses are being led to believe if they don’t transform now they risk becoming ...
Jul. 24, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,114
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
Jul. 24, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,795
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
Jul. 24, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,027