Continuity in the Cloud


Posted on: Nov 08, 2011 by Rob Price

There is a debate that has raged for at least 2 years.Continuity in the Cloud

On one side are those who claim that the Cloud is merely an evolution of where we have been. On the other side are those, like myself, who claim that the Cloud is fundamental revolution.

Those who claim that the Cloud is merely an evolution are doing the best that they can to ensure that the world that they know – that of big software, control, consolidation and structure – remains in place at all cost.

Those that drive revolution … persevere.

This belief arises from a number of incontrovertible facts.

* Everything is connected * Everyone is mobile * Creating social everything and everyone * Four generations are active in the workplace, including the  Digital Native – those who only know everything connected * Electracy (ref. Gregory Ulmer) is their new Literacy * Information is everything.

We are moving from a world of control and cannot, to a world of accept and allow. Abandoning frustration in the hope of enablement.

I have conversations about virtualisation, about infrastructure/software/platform/ everything as a service, and yet for me it seems obvious. Everything will exist in the workplace. There will be an inevitable mix. Private/Public cloud, SaaS services consumed by the business, by IT, by the individual, hardware device choices made by the corporate, by the business unit, by the individual. Don’t deny it. It happens today. I bet that between 25-50% of your workforce today are using things that they “shouldn’t” and yet they do. And will continue to do so.

I’ve begun to ask myself a question.

“How quickly can I “trade” a service?”

It was 3-5 years of course. In some cases today, maybe it’s only a month. I can foresee in the future that certain commoditised services around computing power… maybe it’s only a day … is an hour too ridiculous? If that’s the case, what do I need to think about to ensure business continuity. To deliver certainty from my new stance of Accept and Allow.

Here are some thoughts.

1. Plan to get OUT before you get in.

A client recently expressed a concern about tie in with a service they had been offered that was hosted in that suppliers “Private Cloud”. Never feel that. You should always have an exit plan – an understanding of continuity of service should you move elsewhere. How do you get your information out? In this new world in which we habit, your data, your information, your business IP is your differentiation

2. Find those who exhibit the new behaviours.

There is seen to be a resource shortage in the industry, more specifically a resource shortage of people who understand the world of the web (which is driving the shift to Cloud) and who get the complexity of the Enterprise. You need both, both in your organisation and in your suppliers. Invest and look for not only the technical experience, but the behavioural shift as well

3. Where is my data?

With a range of Cloud based services consumed by the business, you will have information across geographies, across different regulatory and even legal systems. It is not a blocker – but emphasises the need to know your supply chain where you need to know it, but be clear about the segregation of your data and services such that you can invest time in the right places. Get it wrong, and you leave yourself open to a continuity threat to your business

4. Is the price the price today, tomorrow and the future?

Some services will be traded as a commodity. Remember my earlier point about how often you can change your supplier for any particular service. How do you know about the options to change? How do you maintain visibility of the rapid dynamic in the market? Who do you trust to provide you with your direction? How do you create an ecosystem of partners that work with you in the way you want them to work – to potentially break the link between service continuity and supplier continuity?

5. And finally, who can you trust?

Who indeed, when so many people are in the loop. Your own people? Your existing suppliers? Your new suppliers? New partners providing aggregation or brokering or service wrapper services? How will you decide who is acting in your interests, or at worst in your shared interests, rather than in the interests of maintaining the status quo?

Continuity is built into most individual cloud service offerings. That isn’t the issue. The issue is clarity around Business Continuity across a portfolio of cloud services. The hybrid cloud, the cloud of clouds, the metacloud, the virtual private cloud operator will all exist. It will be the new norm.

The only question you face is not one of whether to play, but one of who you trust to provide the commodity service decisions that form the business services around which you need to guarantee continuity of service to your business consumers.

Who have you got to do the translation?

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About Rob Price

COO for Worldline UK&I and member of the Scientific Community
Rob is COO for Worldline UK&I, the European leader in the payment and transactional services industry. He was previously Head of Digital for Atos UK&I, is a member of the Atos Scientific Community and was a founder of the award winning CIO/CTO Atos blog, the predecessor to Ascent. He successfully melds inspiration and creativity with strategic direction and implementation, focusing on driving more efficient and effective exploitation of technology and services to drive positive business outcomes and better connect our clients with their end consumers. The insight gained through both operational delivery roles and strategic Digital evangelist roles ensures that he views the Digital Revolution from multiple perspectives. Find him on twitter @The_Digital_COO

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