Cloud is a journey. This post discusses our approach to crawl, walk and run.
A cloud architecture has multiple facets and requirements, a key part of which is the need for cloud orchestration and provisioning, coupled with a self-service end user portal. Let’s call this “Cloud Automation” for now. If you are designing and/or building a cloud, then, part of your work will be to deliver a cloud automation solution to deliver on that promise. How do you plan to go about that? One approach is to define your extensive list of requirements, based upon your business needs and current capabilities, and go about building out that solution.
Another approach is what I’ll call “Crawl Walk Run”. The incremental approach.
Cloud is a change to the operational model: a change in behavior, accounting, process and people. You can’t do it overnight. Trying to deliver every service doesn’t work.
It’s very important to set a roadmap of where you want go with your cloud services so you don’t get stuck in the VM Azores — this is where all the focus is on VM provisioning and then you deploy technology that does that. And only that.
You need that roadmap of services and a technology platform that supports your vision. Even if all you first is crawl.
Stretching the Olympic theme of my previous blog, where I used the analogy of a 100m sprinter and his backup team to introduce the new Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud Deployment Services, I’d like to now discuss how to roll out new cloud projects in the data center. Thinking again about a team of Olympic champions -- and the Team GB (Great Britain) cycling team, illustrate this principle so well -- with their fabulous winning streak, not least the incredibly exciting keirin event win by my countryman Sir Chris Hoy (yes, fellow Scot, however that’s where the association ends ). Such teams don’t often win with a “big bang” all-at-once, approach. Their training and successes usually builds incrementally, over several years and phases.
In the case of Team GB Cycling, they have developed from practically “also rans” in 1998 to consistent world beaters in Beijing 2008 and now London 2012. They have improved incrementally, event by event, year by year, demonstrating incremental successes as they went along, to be world beaters. In essence, they have used an approach we in Cisco sometimes call “Crawl, Walk, Run”, illustrating the progress to success. From my experience over the past 25 years in IT, there are big lessons here for IT project delivery. Let’s use a Cloud Automation project as an example.
Recently, I wrote an article on PaaS for IT BusinessEdge entitled the road PaaS, understanding your post IaaS options. Here’s an excerpt.
The Road to PaaS
PaaS is an enticing proposition that has generated a lot of market buzz.
But PaaS forces tradeoffs and it shouldn’t be seen as a one-size-fits-all proposition.
To understand, I like to draw the distinction between what I call “Silicon Valley PaaS” and “Enterprise PaaS.” The majority of the discussion in the market today revolves around the Silicon Valley PaaS pattern, which is a truly abstracted “black box” approach to software platforms.
This form of PaaS exposes a set of standardized services to which you write your applications, completely sheltering developers from the underlying complexity below the PaaS abstraction.
It makes a lot of sense for brand-apps built with modern frameworks like Python and Ruby in greenfield development environments that are highly standardized.
The basic premise of the post is that PaaS for an enterprise is VERY different from PaaS for a Silicon Valley start up. And nowhere is it more different than in the network requirements.
The PaaS customer is a developer who will code an application, use the underlying services offered by the PaaS stack, such a database, storage, queueing, etc. The developer deploys the code, selects a few options and code is live.
So what’s going on with the network? Well, the PaaS layer will need to auto-scale, fail-over and deliver performance at some level. It may need it’s own domain as well. That PaaS layer will need to talk to underlying network services such as firewalls, switches, etc. That PaaS really needs access to infrastructure models that deliver network containers to whatever PaaS abstraction the PaaS layer has.
Hard enough to do when all the containers are the same, as it would be in a Silicon Valley PaaS offering.
It doesn’t work with the existing enterprise platforms. This is a big opportunity for innovation
Virtualization continues to be a hot topic in the healthcare industry with many industry pundits calling this technology a potential game-changer. There seems to be a lot of excitement around how this technology can help the healthcare industry in terms of cost optimization and efficiencies. Some of the key virtualization drivers include the move towards electronic medical records (EMR) deployment, support for increasing number of mobile devices, and providing secure access to patient-sensitive data to authorized individuals (HIPAA compliance).
I do believe that healthcare organizations have much to gain by embracing virtualization in their networks, data centers, and end-user workspaces, but they must have complete confidence that benefits can be achieved without compromising core requirements for clinicians, administrators, and IT. In order to build this confidence, one must clearly articulate the “incremental” return on investment for adopting virtualization technology. I have seen and heard several bold claims as to how virtualization is going to transform the healthcare industry but yet those very claims are light on how it’s truly going to help healthcare organizations be “incrementally” better. I keep emphasizing “incremental” because that is the true value-add customers are looking for in order to justify their investments. In today’s macro environment, everyone is being tasked to do more with less.
In most healthcare environments, clinical and administrative applications are client-server based. Often a nurse or a doctor who has to enter data into an application ―for instance, an EMR application― does so from a shared workstation. This task starts with the user identifying himself/herself through a secure login process that can take anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes. After entering the data, the user often immediately logs out, leaving the station available for the next user. In an average healthcare setting, clinicians will repetitively access such workstations for data entry, sometimes as often as 50 to 70 times per shift. The cumulative productivity loss can add up to about an hour (60 times, with a 1-minute login procedure each time). The nurse or the doctor could use this time more productively by meeting with patients or other clinicians and increasing the number of patients they can see. This is just one example where virtualization could provide the “incremental” value-add by significantly cutting the productivity loss, which has a direct positive impact on patient experience.
Healthcare industry is at an interesting cross-road due to the confluence of virtualization and cloud computing. Several healthcare organizations are viewing virtualization as a stepping stone in their cloud journey. Increasing number of healthcare applications are being used in a virtualized environment – either at server level or desktop/mobile level. This is resulting in simplified clinical workflows and providing nurses and physicians with fast access to the applications and information they need, wherever they are, to support positive patient outcomes. Over the subsequent blogs, I will articulate how Cisco virtualization platform is providing the “incremental” value-add that gives the healthcare organizations the complete confidence they need to embrace this capability. Until then, stay tuned.
My eldest nephew is a recent college graduate. He lives in Boston and walks to work, which is less than 2 miles from his apartment. When I was his age, I commuted fifty miles in bumper-to-bumper traffic to get to work (uphill, both ways)!
Young, skilled workers who want to live, work and socialize locally are pushing companies to locate in cities. Many employers are accommodating the hiring demands of the new workforce, as a means to recruit and retain new talent.
An undeniable truth is that these young workers, and most of their not-so-young co-workers, want the freedom to use their own personal smartphones and tablets at work. And more than ever, they want to use them from anywhere, even when they’re on the move. This mobile BYOD desire is causing an avalanche of new devices (15 billion by 2015), applications and cloud-based services.
Business and IT leaders are paying attention. A May 2012 Cisco IBSG Horizons Study reveals that IT is saying yes to BYOD. A whopping 95% of respondents say their organizations permit employee-owned devices in some way, shape or form in the workplace. Have a look at Peter Granger’s blog to learn about how manufacturers are implementing BYOD.
Working according to our own terms does present a variety of new business and IT infrastructure challenges. And thanks to Cisco Unified Access, employers can safely accommodate the demands of the new workforce, and enhance their own business productivity in the process.
The new workforce’s insistence on working their way may not only change the way we do business; it just might ease that bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic!