Why Urgency for Cloud Went to 11

What the Executives Aren’t Telling You

Congratulations! You own “the cloud platform” for your company. Maybe you applied for the role. Maybe you got volunteered. Most of you are just doing the job because somebody has to.

Regardless, your job is simple: lay tracks in front of a speeding freight train without getting flattened. (I said the job is simple, not easy.)

Why did the company put you in this position? Why are they asking you to move legacy workloads? And why are they pushing so hard now?

The #1 reason I hear from cloud practitioners is: “Because my Management said so.” If you want to be successful, that answer is not good enough. You need to know why the company wants to use public cloud, so you know how they’re measuring success… and you.

Your boss, talking about cloud. Courtesy: Bryan Valenza

Why Public Cloud?

Why are most companies adopting cloud?

Agility.

They aspire to move faster than their competitors. Executives imagine that first to the cloud will get the “multi-cloud, serverless, Kubernetes, microservices, automated, agile, synergistic, digital transformation, IT modernization orgasm of profit!”*

Buzzwords aside, there are real benefits to cloud. It helps companies develop, deploy, and scale applications. It shifts technology costs from large irregular capital expenses to predictable operational expense. Underneath the hype, cloud has value. That’s why it’s growing.

* NOTE: These are actual statements from actual CEO/CIO/CFOs.

The Executive Conference Room for “Orgasm of Profit” Courtesy: Disney

Why Move Old Workloads to Public Cloud?

If the business wants to move forward faster, why spend time on legacy applications?

Critical Mass.

Companies have legacy environments, private cloud, and public cloud. The legacy runs the business. Most IT professionals are experts in one legacy discipline — e.g. compute, storage, networking. Since people want to feel useful, they focus on their silo in the legacy environment. That’s why the public cloud never gets enough attention from IT. The only way to drive critical mass to the cloud is to force IT to move the legacy applications to the cloud. And if that saves the company capital expense on equipment and data centers, bonuses for everyone!*

* NOTE: “Everyone” being only those with access to the conference room dedicated to the “orgasm of profit”.

The business pressure to move to cloud now is real. Courtesy: South Park

Why are Companies Moving NOW?

Why is management putting so much stress on moving to cloud now?

They’re not. It just feels that way. You moved the EASY workloads to the cloud. Moving the next workloads will be HARD. But the schedule is the same. That’s stressful.*

Executives have been pushing for agility and savings via cloud for years. First, companies adopted SaaS for basic functions. Second, they moved test and development to cloud. Third, they stored cold data in the cloud.

Now that you’ve done the “easy” work, it’s time for the hard job — moving real applications. Real applications keep persistent customer data in databases and files. Real applications are complex. Real applications need availability, security, data protection, and predictable performance. Real applications run the business. (Don’t panic, though. There are many real applications to move before getting to SAP and Oracle.)

Executives are hooked on cloud wins. Those wins “prove” that they’re innovating and beating the competition. The savings feel good, too. At each hardware refresh cycle, moving to the cloud cuts capital expenses. The savings from each cloud step funds the next one. It doesn’t matter that each step gets more difficult. Everything depends on the next hit of capital savings. That’s why executives need you to deliver the next step… now.

* NOTE: I took a class taught by Turing Award winner Michael Rabin. He spent half of each lecture covering simple arithmetic. At the end, he raced through complex math proofs. We asked why he spent so much time on the simple math vs. the hard math. His answer: “It’s all simple to me.” That’s how executives think about cloud. It’s all simple to them.

Most executives thought Spinal Tap was a documentary. Courtesy: knowyourmeme.com

Conclusion

Businesses need to move to the cloud to compete. It’s not enough to just build some cloud-native applications. They need critical mass on the cloud. That’s why they’re asking IT to migrate legacy workloads.

IT feels tremendous pressure from the business because the next cloud migrations will be hard. There are no more easy wins. You’ve done SaaS, test and development, and archive. Now, it’s time to move business applications. They’re complicated. They have data. They run the business. And they need to be moved now.

Congratulations on owning the cloud platform! Keep running, the train is always coming.

How to Begin Your Cloud Career

Codeword: Agile

The #1 question people used to ask: “How can I get management to buy into my idea?”

Now it’s: “How can I get management to buy into my idea about cloud?”

Then they talk about their attempts to sway their bosses. I’m not surprised they’re not succeeding. I’m surprised that they haven’t been fired.

Don’t jump in front of a runaway cloud train. Courtesy: Thomas the Tank Engine

What Not To Do

If you’re about to use any of these approaches, stop yourself. Even if you have tap into your inner Tyler Durden and knock yourself out.

 

Here’s Why It Won’t Work!!

You’ve seen the cloud plan. Your company has been playing with the cloud — test and development and some cloud-native toy applications. It’s gone well. Now they’re planning to run applications with data (aka — real applications).

Now is your moment! You warn everybody that there’s a looming disaster. There’s no plan for handling the storage failures (0.1% of devices) … or backup … or security. There’s no strategy to avoid vendor lock-in. And they sideline you. What?!

Lesson: Everybody has bought in, and you can’t stop the train. Nobody wants to hear why the train will derail. Instead of seeming wise, you sound like you’re protecting your job.

It’s Going to Be Too Expensive!!

This is a favorite criticism of the cloud. Especially from legacy IT vendors. The argument goes:

  • A well-run IT department can deliver the same services at a cheaper price.
  • You’re paying for flexibility in the cloud, so it must be more expensive.

Despite this wisdom, the business units ignore you.

Lesson: Cloud isn’t about cutting costs. Businesses are frustrated with IT’s lack of agility, and cloud lets them move faster. Since you’ve just aligned yourself with IT, you’re now “part of the problem”.

This is how the business thinks of IT. Courtesy: theodyssesyonline.com

If You Give Me 6 People and 6 months, I Can “Do It Right”

Businesses are already “swiping a credit card” and running in the cloud. You asked for a team of people and time to come up with a plan. That sounds like you’re using a legacy approach to design a new environment. They hear warning bells, and find somebody who will do it faster with fewer people.

Lesson: Executives like cloud because there’s no lead time. If you’re going to appeal to them, you can’t talk in quarters or even months. Think weeks.

It’s your boss when you bring up new tech. We both know it. Courtesy: imgflip.com

Let me Try this New Technology!

You know Docker, Kubernetes, and/or MongoDB would help the company develop applications faster. Somehow. You extol the virtues of Docker Overlay Networks, Kubernetes Stateful Sets, and eventual consistency NoSQL databases. Unfortunately, your boss refuses to commit and asks you to write up a report. You know nothing is going to happen.

Lesson: Your managers do not have grounding in the new technology, so they feel insecure. They were probably last “hands-on” with VMs. They’re not going to risk their necks for something they don’t understand.

Summary

Don’t be negative. Don’t be slow. Don’t make your boss feel stupid.

(Before you laugh, be honest. How many times have you broken these rules?)

Be Agile. Agile is Awesome! Courtesy: IDG Connect

What To Do

Be Agile. Agile is the term of the day. Executives, businesses, and managers love the word and what it symbolizes. Everybody wants to move faster and cheaper. Everybody wants to “Be Agile.”

To change your approach, follow this formula:

  1. Explain your business value (bonus points if you use the word agile!)
  2. Bring solutions to the problems

A More Resilient Cloud Makes the Business More Agile

Business Value: A more resilient cloud environment makes us more agile. With a resilient cloud, we can lift-and-shift existing applications. Without it, we need to re-architect everything to be cloud-native. That will be slow and expensive.

Problem: AWS has 0.1% Storage Failure Rate for Block Storage.

Solution: We should mirror the block devices. We should make backups on the resilient object storage in multiple clouds.

Don’t worry, business units will learn to love best practices. Courtesy: pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com

Centralized Cloud Best Practices Makes the Business More Agile

Business Value: Central management of the cloud makes us more agile. Business units won’t have to figure out what cloud configuration works best with trial and error. We’ll do that work, so they can focus on building revenue-generating applications.

Problem: Each business unit is buying their own cloud resources. There are billions of combinations. They don’t have the time to figure out what works best. They’re picking something and hoping it’s reasonable.

Solution: A small central team can work on best practices. We can even A-B test across groups to find out what works best.

Give your developers the cloud EASY button. Courtesy: concertocloud.com

A Simpler Cloud Makes Developers More Agile

Business Value: We can use cloud for more applications, if we give the application teams a more mature environment. Otherwise, they need to learn to build microservices before they’re productive.

Problem: The cloud lacks data management: availability, performance management, and data protection. The application teams have to build data management into their apps. The extra work slows them down.

Solution: We will build cloud data management, so more application developers can be productive.

You can help the lightbulb go on for your boss. Courtesy: Disney

New Technology Can Help Us Be More Agile With Cloud Providers

Business Value: Running in multiple clouds gives us leverage against any one vendor. We can run different applications in different clouds.

Problem: It’s a big learning curve to run in different clouds.

Solution: Technologies like Kubernetes and Docker can help virtualize the cloud. It does for public cloud what VMware did for servers. Let me just walk you through how it might work… (Now you have your chance to educate them!)

Conclusion

“How can I get management to buy into my idea about cloud?” is the right question. Cloud is the future.

You just need to know how to approach management. Don’t be “Dr. No” or “Dr. Slow”. That’s what they don’t like about IT. They’ve fought for cloud and they want people who will fight for them and their success.

Give them:

  • Agile Business Value
  • Problem
  • Solution

And if you think you’re saying “Agile” too often… you’re not. Don’t roll your eyes. Agility is the rare buzzword that actually delivers value to the business.

Agile is Awesome.