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Cloud? SaaS? Adroit? Hoop?

I spent far too much time on Twitter yesterday as a means of procrastinating preparation for the ITIL Foundation class I’m teaching next week. During my productive procrastination, I had an interesting back and forth with Matt Hooper.

I listen to the IT Service Management Weekly Podcast religiously. If they’re late getting it onto iTunes and I don’t get my fix for my Tuesday morning commute, I start showing signs of Delirium Tremens.

This week (Episode 40) they had Rodrigo Flores of NewScale on the show to talk about Clouds.

Matt made a comment (not quoting, just paraphrasing – and if I misunderstood, I will be sending a link to Matt so he can offer his 2˘) that, although he can see giants like EMC building an “Internal Cloud”, he doesn’t see how most enterprises, even fairly large ones, would/could do it. The cost benefit analysis would rule it out.

I tweeted to Matt that, if I understood what he said, then I disagree, because any organization that recognizes the powerful potential inherent in automatic, dynamic resource provisioning will, if they can, adopt an internal cloud infrastructure philosophy. (Yes, I DID fit all that into 140 characters!)

It pretty quickly became evident to me that, while Matt agreed with the value proposition that…

OK, this is where it starts… What do you want to call it? Agile Infrastructure? Organic Infrastructure? Autonomic Computing? I sent a Tweet recently that was half tongue in cheek:

Don't like "Internal Cloud"? How about: Adroit Infrastructure - Asynchronous, Dynamically Restructuring, Organic Implementation Technology

So I will stick with Adroit Infrastructure for this Blog and continue to lovingly caress my ego with each keystroke.

So Matt, as it appears to me, can clearly see the value of implementing Adroit Infrastructure, but apparently that’s not what he’s referring to when he says “Internal Cloud”.

I tried to get a clear view of what he does mean when he says “Internal Cloud”, but Twitter is a bitch sometimes. As far as I can tell he views as part and parcel to an Internal Cloud: either IT offering a SaaS model to the business internally; or the business opening some sort of Cloud-based offering to the public marketplace.

As the discussion went on, he suggested I listen to  Episode 26 of the Podcast. I remembered Episode 26 – it was the one when the guys had the amazing, brilliant and impossibly well-read Riita Raesmaa on the show to talk about, amongst other things, Cloud. (One of my favorite episodes, by the way)
I listened to it again last night, and, above all else, I walked away with this gem from Riita:

SaaS is a means of buying a service; Cloud is a means of delivering a service.

In other words, SaaS is a service offering to a customer (e.g. a web-based Incident Management system). Cloud, on the other hand, is the infrastructure management methodology (e.g. a virtualized server environment, automatically managed using a hypervisor, which utilizes an active CMS system for auto-provisioning capacity on demand – i.e. Adroit Infrastructure).

As a SaaS customer, I don’t give a damn if Service-Now uses a network of tin cans & strings powered by hamster wheel generators, as long as I get my service. What I care about is the capacity, security, availability and continuity of the service that delivers the utility my service provider and I have agreed to (>wink< at ITIL-aware readers). I care about the results.
As a SaaS customer, I don’t buy Cloud. The SaaS provider utilizes Cloud as an efficient, effective architecture to deliver a SaaS offering to me.

The same dynamic applies to Internal Cloud infrastructures.
How your customer consumes the services and how you configure your infrastructure are entirely unrelated, except as it pertains to your ability to meet utility, warranty and cost requirements.

Forrester says that an Internal Cloud is more than simply Virtualization, but it includes – at least – an automated work distribution engine, multi-tenancy and (what those DevOps guys have been going on about) allowing developers to deploy environments via self-service.

What is a cloud? (not a Cloud, but a cloud – like in the sky) It’s a self-structuring, amorphous nebula of many discrete independent, interdependent parts. A cloud’s shape, size, density, etc. are influenced by both external forces (wind, humidity, barometric pressure…) and internal dynamics.

What is a Cloud? It’s a self-structuring, amorphous nebula of many discrete independent, interdependent parts. A Cloud’s shape, size, density, etc. are influenced by both external forces (demand, priority, business logic…) and internal dynamics.

“Internal Cloud” is Adroit Infrastructure.

What say you, Mr. Hooper? Ms. Raesmaa?

November 12, 2010, 06:53:13 am

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Comments

VigilantGUy

Great post Craig. 
Cloud term came from the part of the visio diagram that aS out of IT's control.  It was impossible to document, and forget about managing it. 
Now enter marketing and sales weasels who don't even know how to spell cloud.  They want to use it as a value proposition because they are too stupid and lazy and reflect on their core value proper and brand it.  So they just hang their hat on "not only that it's in the cloud" (insert oohs ahhs here).

Well despite the moronic truism of what I state above, it is now a term that has appeal to not only IT executives, but is branded to corporate executives and is becoming the cocktail party conversation.
( with pinky up) "my how IT is failing me"
"oh I know.... Fortuntately we are moving to the cloud"
"the cloud what's that?"
"oh that's the new way to get IT that works"
next day at the office...  " hey Matt, what are we doing with thus cloud thing?."
Matt "oh.. Uhm..  We have 1 already.   Yeah it's an internal cloud.  We just need to update it.  Bring in some self-service provisioning, some virtualization, and reporting."

As a really, really smart guy I know said:
"How your customer consumes the services and how you configure your infrastructure are entirely unrelated, except as it pertains to your ability to meet utility, warranty and cost requirements."

Here is my point.

Call it whatever you want to your business users or your wife.  But within IT don't start spinning the jargon that somehow you are going to better at servicing the needs of the business because you have an "internal cloud".

Let's keep it real.  Let's kill ambiguity, and call functional innovation what it is.  Improved operations.
Adroit is continual service improvement and reinvestment into core capabilities.  Why do IT people feel the need to latch on to a lame, lazy sales and marketing term of cloud.

I feel devalues internal IT initiatives and positions them to the lowest commodity.   I assure you the sales folks at Outsourcers would love for you to generalize and devalue your improvement and value based offerings.

Hope that helps clear up my feelings on Internal Clouds.
-matt
Aka @vigilantguy 
 

Craig Wilkey

Excellent response.

It does clear it up, and I agree.
Those tools in marketing ruin everything, don't they?

However, can't you say pretty much the same about ITIL? Agile? DevOps? etc.

Good marketing informs the prospective customers about what you're offering. It clarifies the value proposition through the jumbled mess of taglines, media bytes and vendor white-washing. It cuts through the fog created by the nonsensical jargon created by bad marketing and the questionable tactics of the greasy used car salesmen trying to sell you the car owned by the Little Old Lady from Pasadena.

Good marketing is difficult. Bad marketing is easy and, unfortunately, it's effective.

Was it from the movie "Wag the Dog"? "People don't read newspaper articles, they read the headlines. They don't even trust the details."

One of the most interesting dynamics of the "Information Age" to me is that the more ubiquitous information is, the more scarce knowledge is.

Responsible marketing delivers knowledge.

All that being said, however, I don’t have a problem with the term “Internal Cloud”.
Granted, if everyone stopped using it and starting using “Adroit Infrastructure” and I was known as the elusive genius who coined the term, I wouldn’t have a problem with that either. But eventually the used car salesmen would latch onto and corrupt that term as well and you would start seeing “Adroit Infrastructure” lapel pins that were blister-packed in China with bright colors and sold off the shelf for executive morons to wear to their circle jerk parties.

Screw the terms being used. Continue to improve your provisioning adroitness and continue to be one of the bright lights in a sea of dim marketing bulbs.

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