Interzone Conference 2015

The lineup of speakers at Interzone was fantastic with founders, CEO’s, CTO’s and executives from companies like Apple, PayPal, Twitter, Salesforce, Citrix, Intel, Pivotal, as well as plenty of the heavy hitters in the OpenStack space.

Here are a few standout themes:

1) Cloud is impacting everyone, every day

2) Mature enterprises and smaller companies approach cloud differently out of necessity

3) Virtualization is not enough – automation is the key success factor that will change the game

Consumer clouds like iTunes and Dropbox are used by many of us in our personal lives and sometimes that crosses over into business when Corporate IT isn’t providing the same level of simplicity to get things done.  But more and more employees use the cloud every day for business, using things like Office365 for email or an online CRM system such as Salesforce or Microsoft.  Cisco talked about their services offering that helps companies understand what cloud services are being consumed by their users.  The number of shadow IT services being found grew from 10X to 15x last year alone.  IT leaders need to focus on enabling secure, functional services for their users that meet their security, privacy and regulatory requirements.  I say enabling instead of creating because IT leaders need to look to become service brokers and service managers rather than service builders.  Understanding how to integrate services together will be a key capability that companies will need to be able to develop or more likely source effectively.

I believe that we will continue to see two core types of ways that enterprises consume cloud: 

1) Net new applications will be developed much differently than they are today.  The shift towards containers and API driven –  “born in the cloud” applications will take a long time – not a long time for new apps but a long time to convert existing application functionality.  Companies have people and processes developed, refined and perfected over the years and a big part of those habits are based on how they use critical applications.  Ripping and replacing those applications takes time and more importantly requires human beings to change their behaviors.  To do that, they need the right motivations

2) Companies that want to transform need to look first at their people and culture to understand how they will ensure that the people will adopt the technologies properly to ensure the return they expect or the uptake to gain the competitive advantage they based their ROI upon.  Giving people access to better information (easier is key).  The new generation of workers expects to be constantly connected and data accessible – don’t stifle their creativity and start to change governance, process, controls and security to accommodate this change in workforce now.

The first day of the summit was highly focused on new technologies such as OpenStack.  When and how do you leverage OpenStack?

In many ways, it’s not ready for what most enterprises expect in terms of COTS software.  It is evolving rapidly and making tremendous progress, but the number of projects continues to grow with each release and to paraphrase one of the things heard this week, “When are you going to fix your existing stuff and stop encroaching on everyone else’s space?”.  The biggest challenge for enterprises and OpenStack is about labor and skills required to implement and support it effectively.  I predict that for the next few years, few enterprises will deploy OpenStack until a clear winner in the market emerges to provide the out of the box experience and more importantly the support experience that Enterprises come to expect.

In the meantime, the solutions from trusted partners such as Cisco, Microsoft and VMware will continue to be pervasive in the enterprise.  At the end of the day, automation is a key aspect of things.  Companies have done a great job driving up virtualization and recognizing the benefits but a “virtualized infrastructure” is a far cry from “private cloud” which we have heard so much about.  Private Clouds are like unicorns – they sound enchanting but I’ve never seen one!  Take a virtualized infrastructure, layer on programmability of the network, compute and storage layers; then add self-service and workflow/process automation front-ended by a Service Catalog and now you have something akin to a Private Cloud.  But that is just the beginning.  There are very few companies that have the ability to truly create the scale of efficiency that creates an ROI, and I would argue there are even fewer that can keep pace with the level of innovation that the Cloud Service Providers can.

This leads us to the Hybrid Cloud, creating the optimal mix of on-premises applications, Custom/Managed Cloud, and a hyper-scale provider such as Microsoft Azure.  Having this breadth of capabilities and the people and processes to support them effectively in this new paradigm is the key to making this transformation successful.  Being able to leverage services across any of these platforms when and where it makes sense is now real.  Using technologies such as Cisco’s Intercloud Fabric and Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) offers a revolutionary way of deploying, managing, and applying policy to networks. All of this is possible, but it is also constantly evolving.  Don’t try to avoid putting anything in the cloud; don’t try to work out how to put everything in the cloud. Work out what applications require in terms of security, performance and locality to determine where applications should reside at what stage of their lifecycle.  This is what Long View’s Hybrid IT Advisory Services help our customers do.










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