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Don’t Fear the Cloud Workshop (Part 4 of a 4 part series “Who moved the IT cheese while I was getting production back up?”)

Part 3 — Your Cloud Journey and Roadmap with Intelligent Automation for Cloud

Part 2 — How Agile is your Cloud?

Part 1 — The End of Big IT Architecture

This is a real story.  Places and names have been changed …

By now, this blog series has hopefully convinced you to throw out the old school approaches and turn the calendar to July, 2012.

I really enjoy talking to groups of people in IT about a specific problem.  There is an organizational dynamic that occurs when good collaboration is going on.  Even constructive confrontation has its place.  The best and most forward looking IT shops realize that they don’t know it all and especially for a new area that they need the benefit of a Cloud Workshop.

What is a Cloud Workshop?  It is a one day slice of time where the Intelligent Automation team at Cisco helps a customer group envision their near term and future cloud value.  It usually unlocks a stuck team.  It can raise standards.  It can clarify a path through the old school thought forest.  It can be challenging on both sides.  It is critically important to get a cross section of all major departments:  service management, the desktop team, virtualization, identity management, compute, network, storage, infrastructure engineering, and program management.  What do we do with this cross sectional group?

  • Discuss the IA for Cloud Roadmap and dovetail that into their  vision for their cloud
  • Mock up the IT storefront,  seeing is believing, and getting that shop to think in terms of their customers point of view.
  • Deep dive into the integrations, charting the pathway in their journey .  Discuss APIs and systems of record.  Build a system architecture diagram.  Let’s not forget what was purchased before we showed up.  Overlap the value and integrate.
  • Discuss religion.  Virtualization religion and vendor lock-in.  The importance and the flip side of abstracting the things that can and will change over time.
  • Share success (and failure) stories of other IT shops.  Learning from the Cloud crowd.  See the art of the possible in action.
  • Generate (and even force) difficult conversations cross the “silos”.  Get people asking why we have to do it that way.  “What if it”.
  • Talk about the end users, those customers who don’t buy the cloud automation solution but will ultimately be stuck using it.
  • Do an ROI calculation.  See the value.
  • Discuss the 12 habits of effective cloud builders.  Watch the extended team discuss whether they need dedicated people or roles spread out through the organization.

These workshops can be draining and yet energizing in a way that is hard to explain.  One time I ran a 3 hour workshop.  I was told that my competition used the infamous PPT overload technique with a predictable result.  I was given 4 colored dry erase markers and one side of a room.  People walked in and out of the room as meetings came up.  Four cups of coffee later we were done.   For this IT shop it was a defining moment in their strategy alignment with their vendor.  Today this shop is one of my successful customers.

Another example was a workshop run by members of the extended product management team at the customer site.  This one used a combination of in person, Webex, and Telepresence.  Again another defining moment in building the case to the VP of Operations and the CIO.  The mock up of the future cloud UI defined the future of Cisco IA for Cloud for this IT organization.

Finally, my latest workshop was run out of Cisco sales office.  The entire IT department was represented in the room and everyone was ready to start at 8AM.  By 3pm that afternoon, questions were answered and a single path forward from a myriad world of possibilities was chosen.  The Cloud Journey had begun for this customer.

In retrospective, the “IT cheese” is always moving.  Only Cisco Intelligent Automation has the fresh approach that can get the job done.

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