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“That’s the Cloud sorted then: let’s talk about Blockchain…” Part 2: Enablers of Industrialisation


December 20, 2018


Thinking digitally: making it happen

From avant-garde to mainstream

Last time, I observed that as Cloud shifts from the avant-garde towards industrialisation, significant capability shifts are needed for user organisations to deliver readiness and scale. I also noted that relative to non-Cloud systems, the overall install base of Cloud-ready and Cloud-native systems remains small. This blog lays out the key (primarily non-technical) capabilities to invest in if you are to drive appropriate adoption at scale.

This blog series is based on what the Cisco team has learned from existing and potential customers. The good news is that most of the barriers to Cloud adoption are the same ones that have always slowed the adoption of new technology, new capability and new delivery models – with a couple of twists. This means that anything that anyone has experienced and learned over the last 50 years in digital is still relevant today. And they can be applied to Cloud, particularly in these capability areas:

  1. Portability, transition and migration: moving anything on and taking anything off the cloud, avoiding lock-in while exploiting capabilities, enabling Cloud-broking.
  2. Integration: placing Cloud-based and Cloud-enabled capabilities into a wider ‘system of systems’ so they form part of a greater and coherent whole. These are major challenges for multi and hybrid clouds, along with…
  3. Operations and service management:  including all the usual suspects such as: capacity, availability, SLA, request, provisioning, incident, billing and charging.
  4. Governance and architecture management:  especially around dependencies and interfaces between architecture layers.
  5. Deployment patterns and network-mediated components: in a distributed, grid computing, ‘n’-tier architecture (remember those?), the points at which the network (whether LAN, WAN, WiFi, 4G, 5G…) is inserted to separate layers and components.
  6. Economics and commercials: total cost of ownership, total value of ownership, the business case, procurement and commitment cycles, Capex, Opex – and all that.
  7. Capability life-cycle management practices: from strategy to design, transition, operation and continual improvement (hint: all the ITIL processes).
  8. Risk and dependence: control over the variables and factors that enable effective business risk management, including security, availability and performance.
  9. Availability of knowledge, experience, skills and know-how: including supply and support chains, in-house and external.

I’ll be dealing with these in turn in this series – but I’m getting ahead of myself. First, we need to be clear on what we’re actually talking about.

“Cloud is <fill in your own definition here>”…

It’s not a well-defined thing. There is no agreed industry-standard and every definition you can lay your hands on is different.

However, there are some common characteristics; add to these other differentiating features and we have a good enough definition for now. Borrowing from the Service Orientated Architecture (SOA) movement I’m going with “anything as a Service” (aka ‘XaaS’). Specifically, Cloud

  1. Provides utility (features/functions) and warranty (service qualities) experienced by the user, client or tenant, according to explicitly defined service qualities (e.g. availability, security, performance, scalability) and service level agreements.
  2. Is typically engaged through defined and governed service interfaces such as APIs (business as well as technical), providing an abstracted mechanism for interacting with underlying capabilities and resources without the need for implementation details.

You may have picked up that this definition makes no mention of popular differentiating features such as: ownership of assets; whether it is infrastructure, platform or software; whether it is accessed over the internet; whether it is a commodity or even where the physical resources are sited. These are all significant factors, but in reality are ‘just’ design choices for Cloud implementation.

This definition allows us to learn from the past and appropriate experience in non-digital network-centric spheres that have been around for a very, very long time, such as utilities (water, gas, electricity), supply chain and communications.

Coming up

Next up for Jan 2019 – Portability, Transition and Migration.

See you next time. Meantime, any thoughts, observations, critique, suggestions, more topics – anything at all really, please get in touch

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