Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Aruna Ravichandran, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Cameron Van Orman

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

What’s Missing from “Cloud First” in the Enterprise?

Cloud First doesn’t just apply to applications, it needs to apply to infrastructure as well

My first experience with an "inverted yield curve" was in 2000 just prior to the tech bubble bursting. I was working on a financial portal for an investment bank and one of the charts was a yield curve. It looked odd all of a sudden, so I looked it up in a book of financial terms. An inverted yield is indicated when interest rates for short-term capital are higher than interest rates for long-term capital. In other words, people are willing to pay a significant price to alleviate short-term concerns because they're focused on the now and not so concerned about one year, three years, five years, or thirty years from now. Inverted yield curves some believe signal disruption in financial markets. On the surface, Cloud First seems to signal the disruption that is cloud computing. To take this metaphor a little further, this inversion of Cloud First from "Cloud Never" suggests to me an inverted set of concerns. Does Cloud First prioritize an immediate need to say "something" about the cloud and cloud strategy? Does Cloud First prioritize the now while discounting near, mid, and long-term opportunities that far exceed the "costs less, more agile, faster time-to-market" recording I hear played daily throughout the blogosphere? Beyond saying "Cloud First!" what else can enterprise technology teams prioritize that may amplify their ability to execute in the cloud?

One of the primary strengths of "Cloud First" is the simplicity:

Q: "Hey, where do we deploy the new financial system?"

A: "Put it in the cloud."

Yet the real power of Cloud First lies in the underlying recognition that details and choices, as they filter down through multiple levels of management, quickly become confusing. On many levels in corporate IT I get the sense that the more details provided, the more likely things will go forth along an unintended arc.

Cloud First reminds me of the trailer from the movie "Face Off" starring Nicholas Cage and John Travolta, in which they actually do trade faces for a while. The best thing about the title of the movie is that you know something pretty amazing (and possibly horrifying) is going to happen and it grabs your attention. Cloud First? - same thing - it's got everyone's attention: we're unleashing the monster the media has been warning you about and it's too late to turn back. If we need to do a sequel we'll call it "Mobile First."

What Does Cloud First Look Like?
What Cloud First lacks that the movie title "Face Off" owns is the power to place a clear mental image in the mind of its audience. In a Cloud First organization where I worked, to give meaning to the mantra, I invited guest speakers from successful cloud startups to present their business and talk about cloud. One of my favorite speakers was Stephane Dubois, CEO of Xignite, a cloud market data service that serves billions of requests per month. Xignite's business model of serving data to the underserved "long tail" of the market as well as creating a network effect that multiplies the value of the data in the cloud demonstrates opportunities executives need to keep in sharp focus and track closely. In this way Xignite is a great technology example in a "relatable" industry that values uptime. By bringing in business leaders to present what they're doing in a "serious" business, CIOs and business leaders can build a vision of what success in the cloud might look like for their business.

What Does Cloud First Lack?
What Cloud First lacks in specificity of mission, it also lacks in implementation guidelines. This lack of specific guidelines could be a strength. Or, if you play with the words a little you might work out that Cloud First means "consume cloud services first," and never build or drag data center technology across a VPN or otherwise contaminate the cloud with infrastructure crushed under the weight of the interest on 20 or more years of accumulated technical debt. But since nobody I've met in corporate IT seems to arrive at that interpretation of Cloud First organically, I've provided some guidelines.

Whatever cloud you're on, try to consume cloud services. As an architect, specifying services rather than asking teams brand new to cloud to quickly build robust, highly available databases that will withstand the rolling outages of a year like 2012 is really unfair, and it just won't happen. It's like the scene in "Kill Bill" where the "Crazy 88" suddenly demand 20 pizzas in a Sushi restaurant. It will just exasperate people and make them go, well, crazy. In cases where an Oracle RAC database was absolutely necessary I solved the problem by defining an architecture in which the application layer ran in the cloud, but the database ran "close" to the cloud via a low latency fiber cross-connect. I don't suggest you try this unless there's no other option, as was the case in 2011 when I worked on that solution.

In other words, it's really difficult for IT teams in large corporations to suddenly build highly available databases in the cloud. I've seen it end very badly even when implemented by good people. In many cases the services available in the cloud have the scalability and availability "wrapped" into the service. Similar to the way Linux succeeded largely because "with enough eyes all bugs are shallow," perhaps the cloud manifesto is that given enough implementations and users, a cloud services performance and availability will blow away a one-off, bespoke database implementation built by a team new to cloud. Not building services from scratch may not be as much fun or as hard core as what the cool startups do, but you'll have plenty of interesting things to figure out without building everything from the ground up. One of the rules of Cloud First is to focus your team's energy and avoid fighting battles on soggy unfamiliar ground. One of the more subtle messages of Cloud First is that a key element of a corporate cloud strategy is to avoid building stuff from scratch unless you have zero other options. People may work very hard to convince you to do otherwise, but stick to cloud services first.

Cloud First Doesn't Just Apply to Applications. It Needs to Apply to Infrastructure as Well
The cloud seems to be all about application developers. Yet corporate IT could be more Cloud First focused. I just don't see enough IT organizations following Cloud First when it comes to DNS services, storage services for offsite data backup, content distribution, or disaster recovery. Some CIOs really do follow a Cloud First strategy and make it meaningful. For example, one of my forward-thinking CIO customers first asked his team how they could leverage cloud storage to replace an ailing file server. (No Nirvanix jokes please.)

More Stories By Brian McCallion

Brian McCallion Bronze Drum works with executives to develop Cloud Strategy, Big Data proof-of-concepts, and trains enterprise teams to rethink process and operations. Focus areas include: Enterprise Cloud Strategy and Project Management Cloud Data Governance and Compliance Infrastructure Automation

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Digital transformation leaders have poured tons of money and effort into coding in recent years. And with good reason. To succeed at digital, you must be able to write great code. You also have to build a strong Agile culture so your coding efforts tightly align with market signals and business outcomes. But if your investments in testing haven’t kept pace with your investments in coding, you’ll lose. But if your investments in testing haven’t kept pace with your investments in coding, you’ll...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Michael Burley, a Senior Business Development Executive in IT Services at NetApp, will describe how NetApp designed a three-year program of work to migrate 25PB of a major telco's enterprise data to a new STaaS platform, and then secured a long-term contract to manage and operate the platform. This significant program blended the best of NetApp’s solutions and services capabilities to enable this telco’s successful adoption of private cloud storage and launchi...
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
Containers are rapidly finding their way into enterprise data centers, but change is difficult. How do enterprises transform their architecture with technologies like containers without losing the reliable components of their current solutions? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Tony Campbell, Director, Educational Services at CoreOS, will explore the challenges organizations are facing today as they move to containers and go over how Kubernetes applications can deploy with lega...
Today most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes significant work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reducti...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable? Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, will answer these questions and demonstrate techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the leading technology training platform for enterprise multi-cloud infrastructure. Cloud Academy is trusted by leading companies to deliver continuous learning solutions across Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most...
The last two years has seen discussions about cloud computing evolve from the public / private / hybrid split to the reality that most enterprises will be creating a complex, multi-cloud strategy. Companies are wary of committing all of their resources to a single cloud, and instead are choosing to spread the risk – and the benefits – of cloud computing across multiple providers and internal infrastructures, as they follow their business needs. Will this approach be successful? How large is the ...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In their Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, and Mark Lav...
Many organizations adopt DevOps to reduce cycle times and deliver software faster; some take on DevOps to drive higher quality and better end-user experience; others look to DevOps for a clearer line-of-sight to customers to drive better business impacts. In truth, these three foundations go together. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 21st Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, industry experts will discuss how leading organizations build application success from all...
DevSecOps – a trend around transformation in process, people and technology – is about breaking down silos and waste along the software development lifecycle and using agile methodologies, automation and insights to help get apps to market faster. This leads to higher quality apps, greater trust in organizations, less organizational friction, and ultimately a five-star customer experience. These apps are the new competitive currency in this digital economy and they’re powered by data. Without ...
A common misconception about the cloud is that one size fits all. Companies expecting to run all of their operations using one cloud solution or service must realize that doing so is akin to forcing the totality of their business functionality into a straightjacket. Unlocking the full potential of the cloud means embracing the multi-cloud future where businesses use their own cloud, and/or clouds from different vendors, to support separate functions or product groups. There is no single cloud so...
For most organizations, the move to hybrid cloud is now a question of when, not if. Fully 82% of enterprises plan to have a hybrid cloud strategy this year, according to Infoholic Research. The worldwide hybrid cloud computing market is expected to grow about 34% annually over the next five years, reaching $241.13 billion by 2022. Companies are embracing hybrid cloud because of the many advantages it offers compared to relying on a single provider for all of their cloud needs. Hybrid offers bala...
With the modern notion of digital transformation, enterprises are chipping away at the fundamental organizational and operational structures that have been with us since the nineteenth century or earlier. One remarkable casualty: the business process. Business processes have become so ingrained in how we envision large organizations operating and the roles people play within them that relegating them to the scrap heap is almost unimaginable, and unquestionably transformative. In the Digital ...
These days, APIs have become an integral part of the digital transformation journey for all enterprises. Every digital innovation story is connected to APIs . But have you ever pondered over to know what are the source of these APIs? Let me explain - APIs sources can be varied, internal or external, solving different purposes, but mostly categorized into the following two categories. Data lakes is a term used to represent disconnected but relevant data that are used by various business units wit...
The nature of the technology business is forward-thinking. It focuses on the future and what’s coming next. Innovations and creativity in our world of software development strive to improve the status quo and increase customer satisfaction through speed and increased connectivity. Yet, while it's exciting to see enterprises embrace new ways of thinking and advance their processes with cutting edge technology, it rarely happens rapidly or even simultaneously across all industries.
It has never been a better time to be a developer! Thanks to cloud computing, deploying our applications is much easier than it used to be. How we deploy our apps continues to evolve thanks to cloud hosting, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and now Function-as-a-Service. FaaS is the concept of serverless computing via serverless architectures. Software developers can leverage this to deploy an individual "function", action, or piece of business logic. They are expected to start within milliseconds...
With the rise of DevOps, containers are at the brink of becoming a pervasive technology in Enterprise IT to accelerate application delivery for the business. When it comes to adopting containers in the enterprise, security is the highest adoption barrier. Is your organization ready to address the security risks with containers for your DevOps environment? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Chris Van Tuin, Chief Technologist, NA West at Red Hat, will discuss: The top security r...
Most of the time there is a lot of work involved to move to the cloud, and most of that isn't really related to AWS or Azure or Google Cloud. Before we talk about public cloud vendors and DevOps tools, there are usually several technical and non-technical challenges that are connected to it and that every company needs to solve to move to the cloud. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Stefano Bellasio, CEO and founder of Cloud Academy Inc., will discuss what the tools, disciplines, and cultural...