Quite a while ago I wrote about the primary implementation models for the Cloud: Private Cloud and Public Cloud.
A Private Cloud is the creation of a cloud-like environment within an organization’s own IT infrastructure or at a third party facility, usually through the use of virtualization and the automation of resource utilization. A Private Cloud can provide some of the financial values of the Cloud while allowing the organization to control security, governance, availability and reliability.
A Public Cloud provides resources from a Cloud Service Provider that are dynamically provisioned on a fine-grained, self-service basis over the Internet, via web-based applications or web services. The Cloud Service Provider shares resources among many customers, and bills on a fine-grained utility pricing basis.
In general, a Public Cloud is less expensive and much more agile than a Private Cloud. It most cases a Public Cloud can react virtually instantaneously to resource requirement changes, expanding or contracting to meet the moment’s needs. Private Clouds usually give you more control over the environment. In some cases with security concerns or high performance requirements, the Private Cloud is the best solution.
Recently, some Cloud Service Providers or government agencies have created Community Clouds. A Community Cloud is a Public Cloud that is restricted to a specific category of users, such as local governments. A Community Cloud is focused on the processes and procedures to support that one target market, usually at a price and with agility between that of a general Public Cloud and a Private Cloud.
The choice of which Cloud model to use can be difficult, and the choice is likely different for each application or solution in your IT department. Even if multiple applications fit in a Public Cloud they may have different requirements that require different SLAs or even different Cloud Service Providers. Almost everybody will need a Hybrid Cloud.
A Hybrid Cloud environment consists of multiple Private Cloud and Public Cloud environments. By integrating multiple Cloud services, you can take advantage of Public Cloud services where appropriate and use Private Cloud services where security, performance or availability constraints require more control.
We often talk about Hybrid Clouds as just a few different Clouds, maybe only two. For example, you might be using a Private Cloud to provide your primary IT infrastructure, but use a Public Cloud as an overflow Cloud. You go to the Public Cloud when your resource requirements exceed what is quickly available in your Private Cloud (often called “Cloud Bursting”) or as a Disaster Recovery facility. In either case, you don’t often need the Public Cloud, but when you need it, it is there for you. The cost of that Public Cloud is usually a lot less than expanding the Private Cloud to meet your peak needs or creating a second Private Cloud infrastructure 500 miles or further away.
Many Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are offering such Hybrid Clouds as part of their standard offering, allowing you to have a single vendor to work with.
However, the reality for most companies is a lot more than two Cloud environments. Forbes recently published an article about Deloitte’s latest annual state-of-technology report. Deloitte defines “Hyper-Hybrid Clouds” as formations of Clouds: “multiple individual cloud offerings handling critical pieces of their business operations – and sourced from multiple public and private providers. In each instance, these offerings needed to be connected back to the core of the business, often through traditional data-driven on-premise integration solutions.” The end result is that your company might be using many Clouds, maybe even dozens of Clouds.
It is absolutely amazing what you can do today with almost zero IT infrastructure, especially to those of us who grew up when you needed the “big iron” of the mainframes that filled a gymnasium to accomplish anything.
This is especially advantageous for the small business. Get a domain name (mycompany.com). Go to Google and get free website hosting and email hosting. The email is really gmail, but it shows as firstname.lastname@example.org. When you want to get away from the sometimes not so subtle ways Google makes sure that people know you are actually using Google, for a nominal fee you can get any one of a number of good hosting companies at low cost that will also provide email hosting.
Buy QuickBooks and use Intuit’s integrated payroll processing for a small fee. Use Carbonite to back up your files, Salesforce.com for your customer management, and any one of a number of billing partners, perhaps starting with PayPal. Use Microsoft Office 365 for on-line collaboration and standard office workstation products. Go to Amazon to get some transaction servers and storage space. And you can do all of that the first day.
Each of these is a Software as a Service (SaaS) Cloud: it provides functionality for a service. You don’t necessarily know what it is running on, or even where. The SaaS Cloud helps you manage that part of the business. No capital expense. No IT department. You pay for it in terms of things you understand in your business such as the number of customers, the number of invoices, the number of email addresses, …. You do not need to know or understand the techno-speak like the speed of the processor or often even the size of the storage you need.
Cloud Showplace contains the best list of SaaS vendors I have seen. This is not the “top 25” or even the “top 50” – Cloud Showplace provides a comprehensive list of thousands of SaaS companies in 45 application areas and 34 industries.
The result is that today any company can have the same business technology that ten years ago was only available to the largest companies and national governments. In fact, the new company has a big advantage over companies that have been around for even just a few years as they can build their processes around these services from the start. For the company that today has IT infrastructure and possibly custom applications, it can mean significant change to the business processes to shift to a Hyper-Hybrid Cloud environment.
The trick is to view your IT requirements not as a set of infrastructures, platforms or software, but as a set of services. It does not matter where these services come from. In fact, it never mattered. Over the last five decades, where computers have been a critical part of business, companies have experimented with a variety of mechanisms for delivering IT services, including
- The big datacenter (one for the company).
- The distributed datacenter (one for each major facility or line of business or profit center or …).
- Terminals for access (dumb terminals that were just a display and keyboard).
- Departmental servers in addition to the datacenter(s)
- Smart terminals where some of the processing was done on the terminal (e.g., PCs)
- Re-consolidated datacenter(s) based on functionality (one for financial, one for production, one for support, …)
- Distribution of terminals to partners, and integration with partner IT applications
- Dumb terminals with fantastic graphics that allow end customers to access the IT systems directly (the Internet, smart phones, tablets, …)
All of these were done to control costs, provide additional agility to react to opportunities or problems, or to expand the reach of the IT infrastructure to partners or customers. Why have bank tellers or sales people when we can make our customers do the order entry?
This last is really an old problem. In the early years of the 20th century, the phone companies faced a huge dilemma. At the current rate there were installing phone lines and getting new phone customers, by the 1930s they were going to need almost every person over 18 in the US to become a phone operator. That was because every call required that an operator manually make the connection; long distance calls required more than one operator to pass the call along. In a sense, that is what the phone company did: they made the person making the call actually make the connection, through the use of the rotary dial on the phone, which entered service in the Bell System in 1919.
In other words, the Cloud really can change everything. If you want to get the most benefit from it, you need to embrace it where it can reduce your costs, increase your agility, and allow you to focus on your business, not on IT.
The last word:
Your journey to the Cloud must involve more than just your IT department. When fully embraced, it impacts everyone, including your partners and in some cases your customers. Usually these impacts are positive – faster deliveries, lower costs, easier and quicker monitoring of what is really going on in the company, all resulting in happier suppliers, channels and customers. Get all of the stakeholders involved early. Explain what you are trying to accomplish. Get their concerns out in the open and addressed, and get them onboard.
Keep your sense of humor.