Bespoke IT vs. Fit for Purpose

I’ve been focused on blogging over at EMC’s InFocus blog for the last year, but I want to get back to Mr. Infrastructure and start blogging more frequently about a wider variety of topics. First up is some thoughts on a topic I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about these days: Bespoke IT versus Fit for Purpose. We’ve spent a lot of time on bespoke IT in the industry, building new applications, silos, architectures, etc. to meet a specific need based on the skills and tools we are familiar with. We often don’t have the luxury to go out and investigate what the right tools would be and learn them in order to best apply them. If I think of this in sartorial terms, we make some outstanding, finely fit suits, but it might be in last decade’s style or colors. The suit might be of the highest quality and yet might not meet the needs of the wearer, or might stand out for all the wrong reasons in a crowd. Just because it’s bespoke doesn’t mean it’s the best way to approach the problem.

This is a long lead in to what I really want to talk about, the idea of Fit for Purpose. EMC acquired Adaptivity and I’ve been lucky enough to get to work with that great team, and learn a lot about how they think about IT, Applications and Infrastructure. They have a lot of talent on that team and I’ve learned a lot in conversations and brainstorming with them. Their Chief Scientist is Sheppard Narkier and he’s started to share many of his ideas, thoughts, and experiences on InFocus, see his post on Lessons Learned: The Quality of Design is not Fuzzy. On the surface , “Fit for Purpose” is nearly self explanatory, the idea of designing IT and Business systems based upon what they’ll be used for and how they’ll consume infrastructure. But to those not used to thinking in that paradigm, this explanation could be considered too coarse grained as a definition, let me explain a bit further. Continue reading Bespoke IT vs. Fit for Purpose

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Cloud Conflation

Good for what ails ya! We are a few years into this whole Cloud thing now and I’m surprised by how people still talk about it as a Cure All, some sort of silver bullet, conflating Cloud as a Service Delivery model with all sorts of things like collaboration, increased productivity, analytics – analytics?!, and a new model for application development.  Wow, where can I get some of that?  How much would you pay for such a wonder drug?  You need only open an industry rag, scholarly journal, or turn on the TV to get blasted with some of this hype.  At least I haven’t seen a “To the Cloud!” commercial in awhile.

I think we need to be much more precise in how we talk about Cloud because all of this squishiness is not only misleading, but it distracts from how we should be designing and adopting solutions that use this service delivery model.  And let me once again beg for a new moniker for this service delivery model, I’m so over Cloud.
Continue reading Cloud Conflation

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Converged Infrastructure Buzz

There’s been a lot of interest in converged infrastructure platforms by IT organizations, and these can be a great foundation for a cloud infrastructure across the enterprise. However, our experience working with clients on realizing their converged infrastructure suggests that you need to think about this not just as a technology deployment, but also a catalyst to transform to a cloud operating model.

If you’re going to meet business expectations for improved IT agility, you’d better make your processes as agile as the technology can support. What does all this mean? And how can you leverage converged infrastructure to achieve such an operating model?

I recently did a 20 minute slidecast with Rich Brueckner of Inside-Cloud, and we discussed best practices for realizing converged infrastructure and the drivers for it.

Take a look/listen and let me know what you think:

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Cloud Heresy

I’m about to commit a bit of cloud heresy as a technology guy writing about cloud and claiming that it’s really not all about hypervisors, automation and orchestration. Sure, you need a measure of these components in order to be able to deliver on the cloud vision and model efficiently, but does that really solve the problems that are driving the consumers of IT to try and skirt enterprise IT and give their dollars to the public cloud? I think the number of services being consumed that are called cloud but really aren’t and the amount of cloud washing going on in the marketplace clue us in on the fact that it’s not the technology per se that is driving the consumption of cloud. The key thing I am hearing from my customers, and more importantly their customers, is that what is driving people to consume these services, some of which are actually inferior from a service management stand point to what is already offered internally, is the ease of consumption. Consumers are voting with their dollars for quick provisioning, knowing what they’ll pay and the levers that effect that cost, and transparency around what they are getting and using. Continue reading Cloud Heresy

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Join Us!

I’ve mentioned in the past just how much I enjoy working at EMC and since posting that I’ve been privileged to be able to continue hiring outstanding consultants and architects for EMC Consulting.  In addition to the satisfaction of having happy customers, being able to continue to grow the ranks of our talented organization is a real point of pride.  The Cloud and Virtual Data Center practice within EMC Consulting is currently hiring in North America and we are looking for flexible, creative subject matter experts who can help our customers achieve their aspirations while growing their careers within EMC.  I truly believe that EMC Consulting is the place for you if you are looking to help large companies plan and implement their next iteration of IT.  Please check out the positions listed below, or feel free to drop me a line at edward dot newman at emc dot com.

Southeast:
•    Sr. Practice Consultant – 61302   (4 open positions)
•    Practice Team Lead – 61306   (1 open position)
•    Practice Manager – 61301   (1 open position)
West:
•    Sr. Practice Consultant – 61314  (1 open position)
•    Practice Manager – 61315  (1 open position)
Central:
•    Practice Team Lead – 61316  (1 open position)
Northeast:
•    Sr. Practice Consultant – 60655 (3 open positions)
•    Practice Manager – 50999  (1 open position)

Applying to a position with EMC:
1.    Click on the following link – http://www.emc.com/about/jobs/index.htm
2.    Click on the “Apply Now”
3.    Enter the five digit req. number into “Requisition ID “ box
4.    Hit Search
5.    Check of the box and submit to position
6.    Candidates will need to register if they are not already in the system

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Trusted Cloud

More and more I’m hearing that it is no longer a matter of ‘if’ clients will use cloud computing in some way but a matter of ‘how’ and ‘when’.  Security is often listed as the number one concern regarding cloud adoption in surveys of EMC and VMware customers, and an informal poll at VMWorld reflected that as well.  Why the need for a Trusted Cloud?  Well by now people have figured out the benefits of cloud computing outside just the evangelist ranks and are looking to use it within their enterprises, authorized or not.  The “consumers” within the enterprise really want the provisioning, management and reporting promised by the cloud and they are willing to go around IT to get it in some instances.  So if “consumers” are already using cloud, and more and more of them want to be, we need to figure out a way to inject security and compliance into those services.  VMware’s been doing their part with the launch of the vShield security portfolio last week, but that is only part of the equation.  So what is the Trusted Cloud?  It’s a cloud that assures that the right people have access to the right services, applications and information via a secured infrastructure.

I’ll be hosting an EMC Live! webcast tomorrow on the topic and some best practices for beginning the implementation of the Trusted Cloud.  You’ve got to start with an analysis and rationalization of your application portfolio in order to understand how and where trust needs to be incorporated in your transformed environment.  The rationalized application portfolio feeds into your service portfolio analysis:  what are the appropriate application or service architectural models for your environment?  This is the basis for your cloud strategy and cloud sourcing model:  what are the services that I need to provide my customers and where can they be sourced from?  From here you define your services, policies and controls via ITIL or whatever framework you prefer, document them in your Service Catalog, and then publish them via a Service Portal.  The goal is to provide an end-to-end unified look and feel across the different delivery models with the trust attributes integrated into the environment.

Building the Trusted Cloud

If you’re interested in learning more please join me on September 9th at 11:00am EST for the EMC Live! webcast:

The GRC-Enabled Cloud

As cloud computing becomes more pervasive, one of the most important business questions concerns governance, risk, and compliance (GRC).

How can you achieve business agility and lower costs, while still ensuring that security and compliance issues are resolved?

Attend this webcast and you will:

Understand how to incorporate GRC considerations into the IT services provided by private cloud

Learn best practices from recent private cloud customer deployments by EMC Consulting

See how you can take advantage of private cloud initiatives to meet future requirements for GRC

Find out how defining IT services can help you incorporate public cloud capabilities into your private cloud without compromising security and compliance

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Clouds on the horizon

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about clouds and the future of IT across the blogosphere: Chuck is always good for a post or two; IBM spoke up the other day; and there are even reports that “Hey, this is real!”.¬† I can’t help but wonder if Cloud Computing is really just the marriage of flexible architecture, ubiquitous networks and IT Service Management?¬† As has been noted on this blog I am highly infrastructure biased, but I think it is apparent that fast, readily available networks are changing IT, your phone, laptop, Kindle, &c. are now viable end devices for application and content delivery almost anywhere on the planet.¬† Exciting times indeed!

If you scratch beneath the surface a bit the magic and mystery of the Cloud becomes a little more apparent: you have a high-performance, omnipresent network; a flexible delivery engine that is highly scalable and efficient; and a management framework that provides the appropriate Service Levels, security, compliance and communications the customer is seeking.  To truly deliver a cloud service you first have to identify and define a service that can be readily doled out to customers clamoring for it.  I can think of tons of services internal to an enterprise that would qualify for this designation, so I think the concept of a private cloud is a cogent one.  Take for example File Sharing, or Email, or Market Data, or Order Processing.

So why now?  The emergence of good allocation and resource management tools certainly makes the management of the service a lot easier, add adaptive authentication, identity management and role based access, couple that with the virtualization capabilities and infrastructure components geared to hypervirtualization and you have the recipe for easy to deploy private and public crowds.  The market adoption of frameworks like ITIL and ISO 20000 and their focus on Service Level Management provides the appropriate mindset for the IT organization looking to become service oriented.  Now ride all of that on a ubiquitous, converged, highly available fabric and you can provide these services to pretty much any client, via any platform, any where.

Suddenly Clouds aren’t so amorphous but really the next logical progression of virtualized infrastructure, Service-Oriented Architecture, and IT Service Management.

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Product Management

Awhile back I got a call on a Friday night that is familiar to many consultants, “Can you be in City X on Monday morning?”¬† The program manager on the other end of the phone remembered hearing that I had a degree in Product Management and was eager to get me in front of his customer who was looking to transform his organization into one that managed infrastructure according to a Product Management Lifecycle (PML).¬† Now I admittedly view the world through PML-tinted glasses, but this concept had really piqued my interest.¬† The idea was a pretty simple one: convert his organization to be product-oriented and merge the PML with the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework and the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) that the organization was already spottily using.¬† As a Unified Field Theory devout I was hooked!

The customer, like most, was approaching the development, testing and management of their infrastructure through a number of siloes: people thinking about the long term strategy; another group concerned with the implementation of systems; a group that tested the integrated infrastructure; a group responsible for the daily management of the environment; and an organization dedicated to interfacing with the customer to understand their requirements (and on occasion their satisfaction).¬† Strategy, architecture, engineering and operations were divided across the organization with several silos within each knowledge area.¬† No one was incented to work together, no one had a vision of the entire infrastructure as a “system” and finger pointing was the order of the day during any outage.¬† Walking around the several floors the IT department was spread over there was an air of discontent, people bolted for the door at 5pm, at the latest, were largely disengaged and took pride in the walls they put up around their particular part of the organization.¬† Worst of all the business, their customer, was unhappy and questioning why they were spending so much on that black box called IT.

Continue reading Product Management

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Outsourcing & margins

It seems about 50% of my clients these days have outsourced, are thinking about outsourcing or are insourcing.¬† Some of my customers are themselves outsourcers.¬† An interesting facet of the model these days is the introduction of new services to meet customer needs while providing opportunity for the outsourcer.¬† I’ve had the opportunity to meet with several outsourcers over the past few years and advise them on their service catalog, usually for storage.¬† A common complaint has been that “we’re losing money on this deal” which always manages to surprise me.¬† If you’re losing money on so many deals you may want to get out of the business, but I digress.¬† Usually it’s not just the outsourcer that is unhappy, the customers generally are too: they think the prices are too high, the service is lousy, and that they aren’t really getting what they need.¬† You can rarely go back to the table and renegotiate your price for Tier 1 service and raise the price, so how do you create a win-win situation?

I’d like to present one solution that has been used to good effect in the past: the introduction of a new, and necessary, tier of storage to the service catalog.¬† I think this applies not just to outsourcers but anyone who runs their environment in a service provider mode.¬† A lot of customer I interact with complain that the performance of their Tier 1 storage is suboptimal and that their backups never finish on time, or aren’t validated, etc.¬† While hardly a novel or new solution appropriate archiving is the answer to these sorts of problems, and if you view it from a TCO perspective you can gather a lot of financial evidence for the executives on why it should be implemented.

I encourage my customers to think of their production data in terms of two classes, this is the highest level of data classification in my opinion, Operational Data and Reference Data.¬† Operational Data is that which the enterprise uses on a regular basis to run the business, the key is understanding where the cut-off is for “regular basis”.¬† Reference Data is that which is helpful to have around,¬† you might use once in awhile, for a quarter close or year end analysis, but which is ignored on a daily basis.¬† Reference Data takes up valuable Tier 1 storage, backup bandwidth and storage, and as a result can lead to blown SLAs.¬† The appropriate archiving of this data provides an opportunity to right-size the environment, delay the purchase of additional Tier 1 arrays, streamline the backup flow and improve Service Levels by administering data according to its value to the business.¬† The creation of an Archive Tier(s) provides an opportunity to deliver a necessary service to the customer while also enabling the provider to structure it at an improved margin.¬† Customers will want to archive Reference Data when they can link it to improved Tier 1 and backup performance, driving archive utilization and with it the improved margin while at the same time improving the margin on the other services due to fewer SLA misses and a lower administration cost.

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