Technology, Cloud

You can’t just turn it up to 11 – Scaling to be more cloud-like

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My day job gives me the opportunity to talk about the impact of IT changes to companies of all shapes and sizes. One of the common threads that bind them is the desire to be more like SaaS providers such as Salesforce, Google Docs and the like, and less like the corporate IT department of old.

One of the key changes will be preparing for scale before you're even confident that your service will gain traction. One thing I am confident of is that, like the rock gods Spinal Tap, painting an 11 on your website will not be enough to make them believe the service is any better. Sadly, you're going to have to understand the production line mechanics of the cloud world if you're going to thrive.

There are a number of changes required to being more “cloud-like,” none of them written down in a book anywhere that I know of. I believe that's largely because the opportunities, issues and challenges are still being worked through - in other words, we're at chapter 0 of a book where the plot, the characters and the location are all still to be defined, let alone concluded.

Becoming more agile and innovative is a lot more like improvisational theatre than a set script. Having said that, I've collected a number of my thoughts and observations together in my Top 12 IT management challenges for 2012 series. That series spawned a number of requests for tool suggestions, case studies and generally more information.

While there's no "one true source,” one of the most helpful sites I've encountered for cloud wannabes is High Scalability which is a site dedicated to curating case studies and architectures of cloud (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS) providers both big and small. It provides an interesting behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to run a cloud, grow it from small to large, and looks at operating principals, software and cultural issues from a real world perspective.

While it might get a little geeky for some a(the sidebar advertisements are a clear indication of the target audience), the style is clear enough that even less technical types could drop it into their favorite RSS reader. In the same way you might read architecture and design magazines before thinking about re-modeling, you can flick through sites like these when you're next waiting for a train/plane and be ready to ask some challenging questions as you're planning your next web application.

 

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Discussion
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Jerry
Jerry Bishop 100 Points | Thu, 03/22/2012 - 01:13

I too am reminded of some nostalgic works. Not from the hair bands but from HP. My absolute best all time favorite white paper ever, did I say favorite? is:

"A Fool With a Tool Is Still A Fool"

Now if I could only adapt it into a catchy modern version for "A Fool With a Cloud Is Still A ______" or a perhaps "A Dowd With A Cloud Will Some BE Plowed".

Some years ago, holy cow I am getting old,  there was a push for to establish more of an IT service company model for internal IT. Kind of a twist  resulting from ITSM movement. 

What companies didn't know then, and I suspect still to this day is that running an IT service company even one based on cloud services is very different that internal IT. IT requires different capabilities and I think a very different mindset.

Any CIO considering going down this path must first takle the business model and have a clear business 'plan'.

PaulM
Paul Muller 119 Points | Mon, 03/26/2012 - 04:57

Totally agree, one of the biggest changes is that architecture is almost a fetish at real cloud campanies. I feel for the poor enterprise architect at most non-tech comapnies. They're often kept in the corner and humored once a year with an annual architecture update presentation that reflects an ideal that will never see the light of day.

I'll write something up on the topic in my next post.

jdodge
John Dodge 1461 Points | Thu, 03/22/2012 - 13:28

I think PC Week when I was there broke the story about HP OPenView, but we're talking 15 years plus ago. Wish that white paper had a date on it. Catchy title, tho.....yes, the IT as a service idea has been around for a long time.....going back to the timesharing days. Can you say ADP?  

Jerry
Jerry Bishop 100 Points | Thu, 03/22/2012 - 19:57

The link to "A Fool With a Tool is Still a Fool" is to an active HP file which I think is the Version 2 document. The original was ~1998 or so.

PaulM
Paul Muller 119 Points | Tue, 03/27/2012 - 01:38

Amazing!

jdodge
John Dodge 1461 Points | Wed, 03/21/2012 - 18:54

Paul, eeee-leven. My cloud goes to 12! Great analogy and from one of my all-time favorite flicks! Best Rockumentary, evah!

PaulM
Paul Muller 119 Points | Mon, 03/26/2012 - 04:53

A classic of it's time, only to be matched, in my opinion by the dead-pan mockumentary "Cane Toads" so dead-pan in fact that I was a good 30 minutes into the movie before realizing it was a joke. 

jdodge
John Dodge 1461 Points | Tue, 03/27/2012 - 14:06

Just watched the Cane Toads trailer....trying to figure out where that one goes...

Watched Best in Show over the weekend - another Christopher Guest classic!