Businesses may need to let go of the old ways of doing things and start moving into the future of Cloud computing if they are to stay ahead of the game, according to the former chief information officer of the United States Federal Government, Vivek Kundra.
As a former CIO, Kundra knows all too well what it means to keep churning out projects using an old model that doesn’t work. He has long maintained, when working for the US government, the status quo as an old model was not sustainable.
Now executive vice-president of emerging markets for Salesforce.com, whose stock in trade centres on Cloud computing, Kundra was in Sydney with vice-president and head of Platform Research at Salesforce, Peter Coffee, to talk about moving organisations into a more efficient and cost-effective work environment, letting go of old models and ways to approach security and data migration.
“We saw over a decade the number of data centres go from 432 to 2094. Average utilisation in terms of CPU cycles was under 20 per cent. Average storage utilisation was under 40 per cent,” Kundra said. “The old model, the status quo, was not sustainable and [according to] the trajectory that we were on, we were going to be spending billions of dollars building more infrastructure.”
Kundra said the old model “encouraged people to spend millions of dollars on [detailed project reports] and developing blueprints that end up never being used.”
Learning from this experience, Kundra began to use a different model that would provision services faster and introduced a ‘Cloud First’ policy. “The shift is to move towards a model of provision services. When you shift beyond just Cloud, you go to Cloud not just because it saves you money, but because you can provision the services much faster,” he said. “What use to take five years could now take under five weeks, and you can figure out whether those technologies work or not.”
Cloud computing may offer potential time and cost benefits, but security is still a concern for many enterprises looking to move their data to the Cloud. Kundra said enterprises should carefully review contracts with vendors and ask questions before committing to any agreement.
He also posed some security questions for enterprises to consider when choosing a vendor:
- How transparent and open is the vendor?
- If something goes wrong, are there proper notifications and proper protocols in place?
- How does the vendor make sure its customers know on a real-time basis what is going on with their information and data?
Jumping straight into the Cloud environment without having a clear picture of how it will help your business may be a “dangerous” move, said Saleforce.com's Coffee. “I think the most dangerous verb that I hear in conversations about the Cloud is 'migrate'. I hear people ask: ‘What should I migrate first to the Cloud?’ It’s like going into a basement, shining a narrow flashlight beam at one little corner and saying, ‘Let’s see, of those things that I see can there, what looks good?’” he said.
“Don’t let someone ask you the question: Of our existing apps portfolio, what should we migrate first to the Cloud? Even if there’s a good answer, it’s the wrong question. The right question is: What are the processes that are currently limiting our ability to be a leader in our existing markets, a pathfinder in our new and promising but, as yet, not well developed markets, and how can we take advantage of the agility and the cost effectiveness of the Cloud to achieve that leadership role?”
In order to move into the future of Cloud computing, Coffee said businesses need to go beyond using it to only virtualise the old way of doing things, and to let go of old models.
“We will not get there if we think the Cloud is merely the virtualization and centralisation and cost reduction of the models that have gotten us to where we are now,” he said. “What got us here – virutalised and 'webified' – will not meet the needs that we face today as nations, governments, industries and citizens.”
Kundra also said that the future of Cloud computing is going to be about new ways of doing things; to look at how Cloud computing can be used to connect people on a societal level.
“If you look at the last 30 years, it was very much about productivity. My view is as we look at the next decade and beyond, and you’re looking at a social revolution, it’s going to be fundamentally about humans being able to connect with each other and a fundamental new architecture for how services are delivered. It’s not going to be this old model where you see lots of money spent with very, very little results,” he said.
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