Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Rise of The Cloud

There is an interesting read over at eWeek on what McDonald's is doing in the cloud.  Okay so I know most of you don't think of flexibility and IBM toolsets in the same sentence but that's what the article is about(Just joking IBM, you have very nice tools).  I was more interested in this quote in the article from an IT Manager at McDonald's:

“McDonald’s is a hamburger company; we don’t want to be in the IT business,” Farnum said. “We want to focus on what we do best.
What seems to be a simple and obvious statement is not at all what it appears.   How many IT managers can walk down the line and directly tie their employees day to day activities with what the company is trying to achieve?  How many employees are constantly on thought, what am I doing today to help make better X and sale more X?

By now some of the more astute of you are trying to figure out the blog title and how it is related to this post.  The rise of the cloud has surfaced an ugly truth within some IT departments.  There are a fair number of IT employees if not whole departments engaged in simple self preservation in response to the rise of the cloud.  The irony in this is that they should be doing just the opposite.  You know how Anakin went to the dark side in order to save Padme but that very act is what caused her death, it's just like that.

The cloud if used correctly can provide the IT department with the tools to be the responsive agile group it's business partner so desperately wants it to be.  There are a few basic things one should know before embarking on this journey.  I'm not going to cover the hard stuff, you'll have to figure those out for yourself just like I did, have fun.

-First thing, it's a journey you have to take.  If you ignore the cloud you will be consumed by lava and forced into a life on the dark side.  Seriously don't let your business users get out ahead of you, they will create a mess and leave you behind in the process.

-Don't ignore and take for granted your data privacy policies.  The big cloud guys are likely to be more secure than you but don't take their word for it.  Understand the issues, know what you can and cannot let into the cloud.

-Don't just try and port your crappy architecture into the cloud.  Ha Ha I know you don't have crappy architecture but seriously there are ways of doing stuff in the cloud that will let you take advantage of all that elasticity.  Moving your applications/infrastructure to the cloud doesn't relieve you of understanding the architecture, be sure to know what is going on behind the curtain.

-Don't be afraid, remember fear is the path to the dark side.  I took a cloud development class a while back for a certain vendor and was amazed at how many developers would not sign up for the free account. Microsoft's Azure, Amazon, Salesforce (if you want to try some SaaS) all have developer programs that will cost you nothing to next to nothing.  Jump in and try it out.

Get out in front of this and make your IT department the hero of the business and not the slow moving self-preserving Luddite.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Cloud Architect

David Linthicum had a very good post over on InfoWorld about cloud architects versus enterprise architects. I'm summarizing David but in a nutshell the article is about the need for SOA skills to be a cloud architect. While I totally agree with the need for SOA skills in the cloud space, I think cloud architecture may encompass more than one type of architect.

The uber architect generally just doesn't exist in corporate IT. There generally is a conglomerate of architects that make up the "virtual" uber architect for a corporate IT shop. The cloud really expands on this need because of the different areas of expertise needed in more detail i.e. security, infrastructure and SOA (for sure). Let's also throw in parallel computing for kicks and grins so that we can take advantage of the potential elastic nature of compute nodes. A SOA Architect would have the best chance of having most of the skills in various levels of depth but I think finding all of these in one architect is going to be difficult. SOA itself requires a broad range of skills difficult to find in one person.

Remember the ICC? Integration Competency Center. I'm seeing a future for the CCC or C3 (Cloud Competency Center). In all seriousness it's going to take several architects to screw in the cloud powered light bulb.