I started this blog in January of 2010 planning to write primarily about managing software development projects and taking them to market. I wrote my first blog about Cloud Computing in March of 2010, and this is my 51st post on the subject. So much for the original plan.
This last March I posted Hyper-Hybrid Clouds about how most companies should be looking not at just one or two Cloud implementations, but many Clouds.
I was therefore very pleased when I received a copy of Hybrid Cloud for Dummies by Judith Hurwitz, Marcia Kaufman, Fern Harper, and Daniel Kirsch. Judith is the President of Hurwitz and Associates, a research and consulting firm focused on emerging technology, including Cloud Computing. The other authors are also with Hurwitz and Associates, and all bring a wealth of experience to the table. For example, Daniel has a law degree from Boston College Law School and concentrates on issues in compliance, security, governance and privacy. This is the sixth general audience … For Dummies book for Judith and Marcia including their 2010 release of Cloud Computing for Dummies.
Hybrid Clouds for Dummies makes no assumptions about prior knowledge. You can read this book with no understanding of Cloud Computing. If you know a bunch about the Cloud, this is still a worthwhile book and I suggest you at least skim through all of the sections. Even if you are very knowledgeable on a subject, you will probably find something you did not know, discover a different way at looking at the Cloud, or obtain a better feel for the risk and rewards associated with that subject.
A quick look at the Table of Contents shows the breath of the book. It includes chapters on some often overlooked topics in the area of creating a Unified Hybrid Environment, explaining why that is important and what you have to consider in the areas of data management, security, operational management, planning and designing the architecture of your future Hybrid Cloud environment.
Like many … For Dummies books, Hybrid Clouds for Dummies contains several “top 10” lists, including ten Hybrid Cloud best practices. This is a great list, and almost worth the price of the book by itself, so I won’t include it here. In my view, the most critical are her first, “start with business objectives,” and last, “pay attention to the detail.”
I had an opportunity to exchange emails with Judith on several subjects. Here are some of the highlights.
Many companies have financial benefit and agility as priorities for moving to the Cloud, yet have trouble converting the value of agility to dollars in order to do a real comparison between multiple alternatives.
JH: Agility does have monetary value. Speed and consistency is critical when companies are trying to compete based on being able to come up with new business models before competitors. Increasingly companies are having to compete by developing new technologies to support customers. If a company can try new approaches without first having to cost justify and procure new hardware and software it is much more likely that the developers can try experimental approaches with lower risk. In addition, as companies adopt Platform as a Service they can avoid many of the errors either because of lack of communication of oversight that bring systems down. If a company has a consistent and predictable development and deployment environment they will have better overall results. The bottom line is that when companies can avoid costly errors and delight customers, they will do better in their markets.
I have talked to many IT people in organizations who are frankly afraid of the Cloud: WIIFM. (What’s in it for me?) What happens to the role of IT in an organization that has moved to the Cloud?
JH: The IT organization has an increasingly critical role to play in the cloud. A cloud environment is not an environment that manages itself. It requires a staff that understands all of the components and leverages the right cloud services to manage the right workloads. IT has to take all of the services that are used — internal to the company as well as external services and manage them as though they were a single unified environment. This is complicated. Applications will still be built, enhanced and augmented in a hybrid cloud environment. IT has an opportunity to focus on customer facing innovations rather than maintenance.
I have seen IT-led Cloud implementations that were clearly disconnected from the business needs of the organization. Is “IT-led” a bad idea?
JH: The danger isn’t based on who leads the implementation effort but how the cloud implementation is done. There needs to be a well constructed plan and roadmap — no matter who takes the lead. If the IT organization is sophisticated with a lot of experience there is no specific danger. The danger comes when an IT organization moves quickly to adopt a cloud strategy without a clear set of objectives.
I was working on the planning for a journey to the Cloud, and mid way through that process the company made some significant strategic changes. While a little extreme, change happens to every organization.
JH: Any good plan has to assume that things will change. Technology changes, business requirements change, and competitive threats change. This means that a company planning a strategy has to have a plan that assumes that whatever they are doing today might be different a year from now.
More and more companies have faced Court Ordered Discovery requests: give me all of the information about a particular event, contract, individual, product, …. This information includes a lot of things buried within an organization’s IT: documents (e.g., Word, Excel, Power Point, PDF files, …), databases, emails, texts, tweets, …. What happens in an Hybrid Cloud?
JH: Just because data is in the cloud doesn’t mean that a company isn’t responsible for discovery in a legal case. Legal issues involving clouds is still a new area and there will be a lot of cases that will emerge that will help companies know exactly what they are responsible for. In the meantime, it is best to be cautious and ensure that data related to customers and liabilities be protected and managed.
Like all … for Dummies books, this book is not for dummies. It is for people who have a need or yearning to learn about a subject, written by someone who really understands the subject but can start with the basics and provide a good foundation. Whether you are a businessperson or a technical IT dude or dudette, you probably have been hearing about the Cloud from your peers, management, competition, or in the journals you read. The odds are good that your organization will move to the Cloud, and over time will almost certainly end up with a Hybrid Cloud implementation. I recommend that you prepare for that, and this book will help.
It is available at Amazon (including a Kindle version), Barnes and Nobel, and most bookstores.
Forrester analyst James Staten predicts that many companies will go down the path of Cloud deployments and will fail. Staten said however that this experience should not be ignored. “This is a good thing. Because through this failure you will learn what it really takes to operate a Cloud environment. Knowing this, your strategy should be to fail fast and fail quietly.”
I do not think you should plan to fail, nor do you need to fail. Moving to the Cloud impacts the security, performance and availability of your IT environment, sometimes favorably and sometimes not. The real reason for Hybrid Clouds is that different Cloud implementations provide different capabilities in those three areas, so a Hybrid Cloud allows the right mix of solutions to match your needs. However, this gets complicated. Getting it wrong can be very bad for your business. I do not know of any single vendor who can do it all for you. If you just talk to Cloud Service Providers, they will explain how their solutions will be best for you. Talk to more than one and get conflicting information. I always suggest you get some advice up front from vendor-neutral Cloud-knowledgeable organizations.
The last word:
The US Supreme Court recently upheld the individual mandate requirement of the Affordable Health Care bill (aka, “Obamacare”). They did make one correction: the penalty you pay if you do not buy government approved healthcare insurance is not a “fine” but a “tax.” Thus, in the United States, the government can now tax an individual for not doing something. Coming soon to your wallet: a $2 tax if you go into a grocery store and do not buy some broccoli.
Keep your sense of humor.