Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Zakia Bouachraoui

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, @DXWorldExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

What’s Missing from “Cloud First” in the Enterprise?

Cloud First doesn’t just apply to applications, it needs to apply to infrastructure as well

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.)

More Stories By Brian McCallion

Brian McCallion Bronze Drum works with executives to develop Cloud Strategy, Big Data proof-of-concepts, and trains enterprise teams to rethink process and operations. Focus areas include: Enterprise Cloud Strategy and Project Management Cloud Data Governance and Compliance Infrastructure Automation

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
"MobiDev is a Ukraine-based software development company. We do mobile development, and we're specialists in that. But we do full stack software development for entrepreneurs, for emerging companies, and for enterprise ventures," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...