The commoditization of technology has reached its pinnacle with the advent of the recent paradigm of Cloud Computing. Infosys Cloud Computing blog is a platform to exchange thoughts, ideas and opinions with Infosys experts on Cloud Computing

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August 27, 2015

Software is the New Hardware

The "Humanics", "Mechanics" and "Economics" of the new enterprise world

 

The enterprise world seems to be poised at an interesting inflection point today. There no longer seems to be anything called as a "known competitor" or an "industry adjacency" in enterprise business anymore.

 

A Google can come from nowhere and reimagine, redefine and rewrite the rules of the entire advertisement industry. An Apple can come from nowhere and reimagine, redefine and rewrite the rules of the entire entertainment industry. A Facebook and Twitter can create absolutely new spaces that did not exist a few years ago. An Amazon and/or Alibaba can come from nowhere and reimagine, redefine and rewrite the rules of the way commerce is done around the world. And then there are Uber, Tesla and others.

 

In each of these examples, three elements seem to combine to perfection: 

  • Humanics: This is about using the power of imagination to discover new possibilities and create new experiences. All the companies mentioned above have done this par excellence in their respective contexts.
  • Mechanics: The new possibilities powered by imagination have to be converted into reality and, more often than not, in today's world, all of this is being driven by software. All the examples mentioned above, have leveraged the power of software in reimagining, redefining and rewriting the rules of their respective games. 
  • Economics: And finally, of course, there is the economics - the right business model for the right context. Businesses and business plans need to find the right balance between "Humanics", "Mechanics" "Economics" to scale new horizons and convert possibilities into realities - leveraging the power of software!

GAFTA vs G2K

At a biomedicine conference last year, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla famously declared that healthcare would be better off with fewer doctors. And then he delivered the same advice to IT at a tech conference the following month. Needless provocation? Far-fetched fantasy? Datacenter utopia, actually. Because that's exactly what most of the traditional and large G2K companies would dearly love to achieve.

Not too long ago, the Director of Data Center Operations at Facebook said each of their administrators managed at least 20,000 servers. Contrast that with the 1:500 or 1:1,000 (admin to server) ratio that a typical G2K company manages. At best. A couple of years earlier - as if to prove a point - Facebook had launched the Open Compute project to make their highly efficient hardware design "open source" for everyone's benefit.

The reason for this lopsided infrastructural evolution is mainly historical. Most G2K companies have been around long enough to accumulate a legacy of disparate, non-interoperating, generations of technologies that seem to be operating in silos. These enterprises are forced to dedicate the technology budget, not to mention large human resources, to simply keep the lights on. On the other hand, the GAFTA (Google-Apple-Facebook-Twitter-Amazon) group - with a scant 97 years between them - found a way to abstract and codify this complexity using the power of software to build highly scalable and highly automated solutions to the same problem.

The stark difference in productivity means that many G2K enterprises struggle with most of their resources being stuck with "keeping the lights on." This also means that very limited resources are allocated to reimagining, redefining and rewriting possibilities and converting these into newer realities for business.

Now, what if, somehow magically, this could be completely turned upside down. The possibilities would be immense. The probability of converting these possibilities into realities would be immense.

The key question is, how can G2K organizations do a GAFTA? Especially in the world of infrastructure management.

Software is the new hardware

The basis to the hypothesis of G2K doing a GAFTA, especially in the field of infrastructure management, seems to be encapsulated in a mere 5 words: "software is the new hardware". 

G2K companies must find a way to emulate their GAFTA counterparts to leverage the power of software to reimagine, redefine and rewrite the way the current infrastructure is managed and convert possibilities into realities.

They must find a way to run their operations noiselessly leveraging the power of software. To achieve this, they must find a way to abstract the complexities and heterogeneity of their environments through the power of software and drive extreme standardization and extreme automation to achieve extreme productivity - by an order of magnitude, not incrementally. This will help them take costs out - and large chunks of it.

They must find a way to: 

  • Drive extreme visibility and control across not only the "horizontal elements" spanning various businesses, geographies, applications, partners, and functions but also "vertical elements" across all infrastructural elements to applications to business processes. And all of this in a "single pane".
  • Modernize their infrastructure by possibilities that software offers - hyper-converged infrastructure, software defined everything, Open Compute, and a good mix of public, private and hybrid clouds so that agility increases by leaps and bounds and costs decrease by an order of magnitude.
  • Modernize and move their existing workloads to take advantage of the new software-powered underlying infrastructure.
  • Reimagine their processes to make DevOps an integral part of the new ways of working.
  • Reimagine their security with "hazy perimeters", collaborative work models to counter ever-increasing vulnerabilities and risks - all this through the power of software.
  • Reskill and reorganize talent. In the world where software is the new hardware, there will be need for a massive change in skills and structure.
  • Change the organizational culture.

While the existing and mature businesses within the enterprise will demand relentless excellence in efficiency, control, certainty, and variance reduction, the foundational cultural constructs of the "newer" lines of business of the enterprise will be based on exploration, discovery, autonomy, and innovation. Building an ambidextrous organization and driving a culture of purpose, creativity and learning would be paramount.

All said and done, this journey is best undertaken with partners who are able and aligned - not alone. G2K companies must find a way to leverage partners who have firmly based their strategies and their businesses on the fact that "software is the new hardware". Not just by talking about it but actually making it a way of life of using software to help their clients "run" operations, "build" next-gen infrastructure, "modernize/migrate" workloads, and "secure" them against the new threats. 

The last word

The approach to technology infrastructure at G2K and GAFTA companies belong to different eras. There exists a clear blueprint for G2K enterprises to leverage the benefits of the GAFTA world in terms of agility, and freed-up man and money resources that can be promptly plowed back into re-imagination, innovation and new business models. 

GAFTA has shown the way on how new business models can be "Powered by imagination. Driven by software".  

Software is indeed the new hardware!

Continue reading "Software is the New Hardware" »

October 22, 2013

Take your business where your digital consumers are - on the cloud! Part3

In my first blog, I spoke about the consumerization of IT with cloud and in my second blog, I spoke about how enterprises can leverage cloud and big data for pervasive intelligence. In this blog let's talk about how cloud can be enable consumer responsiveness. 

Cloud is also becoming a distinct enabler at improving reach and responsiveness to consumers. Consumers today demand a high responsiveness for their needs. Dealing with such aggressive demands is possible only with features of cloud such as on-demand scaling, agility and elasticity. For instance, manufacturers use Cloud to manage direct and indirect sales channels, giving them instant visibility into field intelligence. The most significant revelation is that the tremendous time and cost savings driven by Cloud-based customer service has created high Cloud adoption levels within the industry (3).

It isn't surprising, then, that luxury car brands such as Mercedes and BMW take it one step further - investing in Cloud technologies to accurately track the digital footprints of customers and update contact information to stay in touch with their customer base. They also keep track of maintenance information of their cars even if they are serviced outside the primary dealer networks. Significant facets like buyer perceptions, brand loyalty, buying patterns can be also charted out while studying markets to develop consumer focussed products.

Ultimately, enterprises need to scale and meet or even exceed the expectations of the digital consumer to be able succeed in their marketplace. That will be possible through superior and real-time analytics applied to help sell and service the digital consumer better - every day, every hour, and every minute. Nothing can be more powerful than leveraging consumer behaviour to tailor products Cloud offers an excellent platform to do this and Big Data based analytics becomes the core engine to do it. Big Data streamlines your massive data while cloud helps you optimize your resources efficiently. Cloud has the potent to blur the lines of physical and online space by integrating potential opportunities with existing data.

To conclude, by scaling their businesses to the cloud, enterprises equip themselves to succeed by taking their business to the digital consumer and winning in the marketplace. 

 

August 27, 2013

You can't compete with the clouds, but you can embrace and succeed!

 

I take my inspiration for my blog title from Forrester's James Staten who recently wrote about "You can learn from the clouds but you can't compete". James Staten talks about how data center operations can help achieve levels of excellence and success and prescribes that standardization, simplification, workload consistency, automation and maniacal focus on power and cooling can help one setup and run the best data center operations.

 

However, I think there is more to these large cloud providers than just learning some best practices. I was talking to an important client of Infosys earlier with whom we are currently enabling an cloud enabled IT transformation and she mentioned something that clarified to me what the real value of these cloud providers means. She said her aspiration is to set up and run a trust cloud ecosystem for her enterprise with a single point of accountability.  In spite of the sheer scale and magnitude of their investments, the likes of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Windows Azure, these giant behemoths of industrial scale infrastructure with their infinitesimal compute power, derive respect from the sheer agility and speed with which they are able to respond to their customer needs.

 

Of course, this happens because of a phenomenal level of simplification, standardization, automation and orchestration they run their operations with. Now imagine, how it would be if these principles of IT governance and operations management were extended to an enterprise. Vishnu Bhat , VP and Global head of Cloud at Infosys keeps saying "It is not about the Cloud. It is about the enterprise" and towards this if an enterprise were to simply focus on learning from these cloud leaders and work towards establishing an ecosystem of cloud providers, a hybrid setup, where their current IT is conveniently and easily connected to their private cloud, and public cloud setups. And this hybrid cloud environment is managed with the same level of agility and speed as an AWS is, that is when the possibility of true success and value from cloud starts to emerge.

 

Imagine a hybrid cloud within the realms of your enterprise that functions with the same speed, agility and alacrity of an AWS. Imagine exceptionally efficient levels of optimization of costs on a continuous basis by bringing in levels of automated provisioning of enterprise workloads, integrated federation and brokerage with on-premise core IT systems, extensibility with public clouds available for spikes, constant optimization through contestability and optimization, control and governance through single enterprise view, metering, billing and charge backs to business, clear points of accountability with easy governance of SLAs and liabilities, secure management of the cloud and compliance de-risking in keeping with the laws of the land. And all this from one ecosystem integrator with one point of responsibility, accountability. That's cloud nirvana at work!  I am eager to keeping telling clients on how to get to this state, how to learn from the cloud providers and contextualize these to an enterprise.

 

In my next blog, I will talk about an important aspect of cloud success - contestability, but before that, I would urge you to read my colleague Soma Pamidi's blog "Getting cloud management and sustenance right - Part 1". Till then, may the clouds keep you productive!

August 21, 2013

Getting cloud management and sustenance right -- Part-1

I have been in Australia in recent weeks as I work with a major client of Infosys' to help devise  the   cloud transformation for them. It is exciting, and all this effort in planning their transformation enablement with cloud only reaffirms a long time belief I have had - to get value from Cloud, one needs to get their cloud management and sustenance right. In this 3 part blog series, I will try and cover that. My secret hope is that it transpires into a model we can help clients with.

 

The promise of Cloud is that it just does simply reduce costs but also delivers business agility with flexibility. While enterprises are ramping up for the journey to cloud, achieving proper integration and delivery is of prime importance. It marks the steps to transition from 'asset-centric IT' to 'service-centric IT' in a systematic and progressive manner. It also presents a robust Cloud management framework that, with the right implementation partner can help the enterprise reap a rich harvest of business benefits.

 

Organizations are in various stages of consolidating their information technology (IT) infrastructure to a single or few centralized datacenters along with vendors and suppliers.  While such datacenter consolidation has yielded performance efficiencies and cost optimization, there has also been exponential growth in demand owing to the evolution of cloud solutions. Compared to traditional datacenters and hosting, cloud services offer higher elasticity, rapid scalability, on-demand pay-per-use models, and other innovative out-of-the-box, ready-to-use services. Today's enterprises are entering a new world where businesses are facing increasing pressures to offer efficient services, ownership and decisions are restricted to the services they consume.

 

Today's enterprises recognize that Cloud technologies are transforming IT and business models. With Cloud, organizations realize that it calls a new operating model which comes with its own set of challenges.

 

The increasing IT complexity makes it impossible to achieve desired benefits from a single cloud provider. The demand for superior services is forcing businesses to opt for multiple CSPs, transforming the existing IT landscape into a complex, hybrid cloud enterprise. This poses several challenges such as higher governance overheads, absence of a single point of accountability, complexity in managing SLAs, lack of standardized processes, tools and reports. In my next blog, I will speak about cloud governance and compliance and integration and orchestration management.

 

 

November 26, 2012

Harnessing the Hybrid Cloud

A recent IDC study claims that "private cloud is [the] current flavor but hybrid cloud is fast becoming a reality." This makes sense, because it is the hybrid model that exploits cloud potential to the fullest. It's the golden mean between private, public and on-premise, enabling enterprises to fulfill all their ambitions--from plain-vanilla aspirations like cost efficiency, scalability, productivity and "on demand" to strategic business priorities like innovation, market expansion and business model reinvention. Of course, there's a catch. Read More

August 31, 2012

Cloud Computing Is Not All About Infrastructure

Within the various communities of people that I interact with, including colleagues, clients, domain experts, technical architects, sales executives, and others, I've often seen that cloud computing is predominantly linked to infrastructure and availability of infrastructure (servers, storage, etc.) as-a-service, even though there is enough evidence that it can be both "hardware and software" as-a-service.

In fact, cloud computing can be "anything IT" as-a-service, be it infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, software-as-a-service, storage-as-a-service, security-as-a-service, data-as-a-service, business process-as-a-service, dev/test environment-as-a-service, desktop-as-a-service, or API-as-a-service.

This brings up an interesting overlap with traditional IT.

Cloud computing can replace the traditional and manual methods of downloading, installing, and configuring development software (IDEs, app servers, and plug-ins) with an automated workflow based process, enabled via an unified Web interface/portal that will provide complete development environments as-a-service and on demand to software developers, bringing in efficiency and consistency. At the same time, it can integrate architecture repositories along with the various project and quality management tools and processes, including tracking tools, charts, and reporting dashboards via the same unified Web interface/portal, to provide well-rounded development/test environments on an "as-a-service" basis.

It provides a compelling alternative to the traditional EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) and ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) architecture patterns with a "Cloud Integration Gateway" that can not only integrate on-premises applications but also on-premises applications with SaaS applications/platforms in the cloud, and even integrate SaaS applications to other SaaS applications in the cloud, via a common orchestration layer that can abstract an enterprise from the lack of interoperability and lack of standardization in the industry.

Cloud computing provides innovative options to collaborate at work with social networking, micro-blogging evolving from a traditional theme of enterprise portals, identity, and content management.

It opens up newer options on how data is handled with ability to mine sources of data previously not feasible to provide "business intelligence, analytics, and data warehousing" as-as-a-service. It provides cheaper options for high performance computing leveraging the commoditization of Infrastructure. With the automation that it brings in, it provides better efficiency and cost savings on application maintenance and infrastructure management.

Cloud-based computing is the end state when developing or evolving an enterprise's architecture and cuts across various spheres of IT architectures. It is taking service orientation of applications and infrastructure to the next level.

Of course, all this is possible with an underlying layer of infrastructure that is virtualized and automated to be available on an on-demand basis, but cloud computing is not only about infrastructure or just an infrastructure deployment model. A holistic approach is required to realize the full benefits cloud computing has to offer.

July 4, 2012

Can IT now can fully enable business? With Cloud?

In the last twenty years in this industry, I have seen quite a few faces of IT operations in many organizations. From being considered as a back room operation to leading change and business integration. But the truth is, most IT organizations in enterprises are struggling to stay in the front line and constantly battling to find ways of quantifying the "value of IT". This has not been easy to say the least. 

 

In my view, the two big issues that are contributing to the woes of most IT organizations. They are ..

1.       Time to Market

2.       Innovation

 

There is no doubt that IT has transformed to be the backbone of all enterprises. Most organizations IT capabilities have evolved and we have done a 'good job' in bringing  the engineering discipline, process, methodologies and more importantly,predictability, in this industry. Now, where has that left IT in any organization. It is considered more often than not a bottleneck in bringing new ideas to the market. Let's look at it from a business leaders standpoint. How many times have we heard " we do not have an environment to start the work, develop and test", " this cannot go into this release cycle", " it is too time consuming to try things out"," We need to have all requirement and design ready" etc. Truth of the matter is that it takes too long to get a business idea from a concept to production. More often than not , IT is the bottleneck. 

 

It is true that 85 percent of IT budgets world over are to keep the lights on. So where is the room for innovation? Most investments are engaged in keeping lights on and the other 15 to 20 percent is used up in delivering "strategic programs". There is generally no room available to try new ideas or engage in any sort of R&D activity. This has resulted in formation of shadow IT groups outside of then IT depts with limited success and most certainly resulting in a "mess" to be cleaned up. 

 

I am very excited about the opportunity the Cloud offers. I am also very confident that this can be as big a disruption or an opportunity to IT as the Internet was, or a phenomenon close to heart, the Global Delivery Model. The Cloud offers a bright future for the industry, one in which IT can ensure greater agility, simplicity, scalability, efficiency, innovation, and cost-effectiveness for businesses.  Boy, does it provide enough room! And lots of it. It has the power to address the issue of time to market as well as bring in significant opportunities and construct for innovation.

 

As I sign off, I would like to leave you all with one thought: The sky is the limit on the Cloud. So What would limit CIOs in leveraging it to it's potential ? More on that in my next blog..

 

 

March 20, 2012

Along with data in on-premise database, can we also expose stored procedure using Azure building blocks to internet?

While working in some project we might have come across the requirement:

·         Migrate an existing web- application from on-premise to cloud for some of the obvious reasons. And I believe by now we know what are the different driving factors for migrating an/a application/service to cloud

·         But keep the back-end database on-premise. Quite a few reasons for this, say for instance the data is of very "high business impact" type and can't be put outside the corporate network.

We must have explored quite a few options like being in Windows Azure domain, options are:

·         Make use of Azure connect and create some kind of local area network comprising of the database server and the virtual machines having Azure roles (having the application).

·         Make use of Azure appfabric service bus (my favorite option) to expose database over http as OData interface and also support the CRUD operations.

But now how to expose the SQL Stored Procedures and functions defined in the back-end database.

Continue reading "Along with data in on-premise database, can we also expose stored procedure using Azure building blocks to internet?" »

July 29, 2011

Step by step approach to expose on-premise database using Azure infrastructure - Part 2

In the last blog we understood the usage of Azure-connect to expose on-premise SQL database and accordingly the points of concern while doing that and also the benefit. In this blog we will understand another approach using Azure appfabric Service Bus.

Continue reading "Step by step approach to expose on-premise database using Azure infrastructure - Part 2" »

July 19, 2011

Step by step approach to expose on-premise database using Azure infrastructure

With the advancement of Azure cloud infrastructure, there arise many heterogeneous requirements which are of type of system(s) having combination of on-cloud and on-premise components. Specially from the on-premise database point of view for certain scenario, this blog series is intended to explain the options, steps, concerns and benefits of different approaches.

Continue reading "Step by step approach to expose on-premise database using Azure infrastructure" »