1st in the Series: Embrace, Educate, Design, Build
Many of your customers are asking about cloud computing. It's not hard to understand why. Whether you’re walking thru San Francisco airport, finding your seat at Fenway Park, watching the Masters, or doing a Google search you’re bound to see something about cloud computing: “the Power behind your cloud”, “the cloud turns data into excitement”, or “85% of all new software is being delivered on the cloud”.
So if your customer is asking, what should you do? You could implement the Ostrich Strategy and hope it will go away. It’s just a fad, yet another hype cycle. By the way for those of you who remember a few years back there were plenty of people who said, “You’ll never want to run on Unix, it’s not secure enough.”, or “You’ll never use an Oracle database, it’s not scalable enough.” Well, we all know how those stories turned out.
So your other strategy is to embrace this next wave of technology, but as Mae West said "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night." Let me outline a three step plan to get you on a path to deliver value and make money in the cloud. I’m going to focus largely on compute, storage, datacenters and networks as opposed to applications like email or SFA, largely because in many businesses there are lots of applications for which there are no packaged solutions. And secondly the infrastructure is the foundation of your IT house, so just like your own home, it’s important to get a solid foundation or whatever you build will probably fail or cost a lot of money.
First, provide the client an inspection service. If you were going to buy a house, you’d always ask for a 3rd party to give you an inspection report. Our IT houses are more complex than most homes, so whether a new IT director was hired or you’re talking to the current management, offer to provide an inspection so they know what they have, how it compares financially to what might be possible and finally an the state of their current security.
With the results of the inspection, have your architect discuss the customer’s specific objectives and constraints. Do they want to remodel some existing rooms to reduce cost? Do they want to add on new infrastructure to support a new application? As any good architect, you’d share a number of different designs that would incorporate the appropriate compute, storage, data center or network cloud services. While in many cases the remodel might result in lower cost, it could also result in higher performance or higher security. Your architect can work with the client to finalize the design, with of course a rough estimate of the costs.
Finally, as with our homes, the architect might recommend a general contractor to build the house, or with the new blueprints the clients can find their own general contractor, or you might decide to also become a general contractor. In any case you can also provide ongoing design monitoring as the new addition is built- as requirements might change or new cloud services come into existence.
The next couple of blogs in the coming weeks will go into more detail on what it will mean to educate, inspect, design and build the customer’s next generation IT house.
Editor's Note: Timothy recently published a cloud computing trilogy titled Cloud Computing: Fundamentals, Cloud Computing: Operation Efficiency and Cloud Computing: Transformation, which are designed to teach the fundamentals of cloud computing, sharing plenty of examples.