All posts by John Dixon

5 Cloud Predictions for 2014

By John Dixon, LogicsOne


Here are my 5 Cloud Predictions for 2014. As always, leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

1. IaaS prices will drop by at least 20%

Amazon has continued to reduce its pricing since it first launched its cloud services back in 2006. In February of last year, Amazon dropped its price for the 25th time. By April prices dropped for the 30th time and by the summer it was up to 37 times. Furthermore, there was a 37% drop in hourly costs for dedicated on-demand instances. Microsoft announced that they will follow AWS’s lead with regard to price cuts. I expect this trend to continue in 2014 and likely 2015. I highlight some of these price changes and the impact it will have on the market as more organizations embrace the public cloud in more detail in my eBook.

2. We’ll see signs of the shift to PaaS

Amazon is already starting to look more like a PaaS provider than an IaaS provider. Just consider pre-packaged, pre-engineered features like Auto Scaling, CloudWatch, SQS, RDS among other services. An application hosted with AWS that uses all of these features looks more like an AWS application and less like a cloud application. Using proprietary features is very convenient, but don’t forget how application portability is impacted. I expect continued innovation in the PaaS market with new providers and technology, while downward price pressures in the IaaS market remain high. Could AWS (focusing on PaaS innovation) one day source its underlying infrastructure to a pure IaaS provider? This is my prediction for the long term — large telecoms like AT&T, Verizon, BT, et al. will eventually own the IaaS market, Amazon, Google, Microsoft will focus on PaaS innovation, and use infrastructure provided by those telecoms. This of course leaves room for startup, niche PaaS providers to build something innovative and leverage quality infrastructure delivered from the telecoms. This is already happening with smaller PaaS providers. Look for signs of this continuing in 2014.

3. “The cloud” will not be regulated

Recently, there have been rumblings of regulating “the cloud” especially in Europe, and that European clouds are safer than American clouds. If we stick with the concept that cloud computing is just another way of running IT (I call it the supply chain for IT service delivery), then the same old data classification and security rules apply. Only now, if you use cloud computing concepts, the need to classify and secure your data appropriately becomes more important. An attempt to regulate cloud computing would certainly have far reaching economic impacts. This is one to watch, but I don’t expect any legislative action to happen here in 2014.

4. More organizations will look to cloud as enabling DevOps

It’s relatively easy for developers to head out to the cloud, procure needed infrastructure, and get to work quickly. When developers behave like this, they not only write code and test new products, but they become the administrators of the platforms they own (all the way from underlying code to patching the OS) — development and operations come together. This becomes a bit stickier as things move to production, but the same concept can work (see prediction #5).

5. More organizations will be increasingly interested in governance as they build a DevOps culture

As developers can quickly bypass traditional procurement processes and controls, new governance concepts will be needed. Notice how I wrote “concepts” and not “controls.” Part of the new role of the IT department is to stay a step ahead of these movements, and offer developers new ways to govern their own platforms. For example, a real time chart showing used vs. budgeted resources will influence a department’s behavior much more effectively than a cold process that ends with “You’re over budget, you need to get approval from an SVP (expected wait time: 2-8 weeks).”

DevOps CIO Dashboard

 Service Owner Dashboard

The numbers pictured are fictitious. With the concept of Service Owners, the owner of collaboration services can get a view of the applications and systems that provide the service. The owner can then see how VoIP spending is a little above the others, and drill down to see where resources are being spent (on people, processes, or technology). Different ITBM applications display these charts differently, but the premise is the same – real time visibility into spend. With cloud usage in general gaining steam, it is now possible to adjust the resources allocated to these services. With this type of information available to developers, it is possible to take proactive steps to avoid compromising the budget allocated to a particular application or service. On the same token, opportunities to make informed investments in certain areas will become exposed with this information.

So there you have it, my 2014 cloud predictions. What other predictions do you have?

To hear more from John, download his eBook “The Evolution of Your Corporate IT Department” or his Whitepaper “Cloud Management, Now



Why Automate? What to Automate? How to Automate?

By John Dixon, Consulting Architect

Automation is extremely beneficial to organizations. However, the questions often come up around why to automate, what to automate, and how to automate.

Why automate?

There are several key benefits surrounding automation. They include:

  • Saving time
  • Employees can be retrained to focus on other (hopefully more strategic) tasks
  • Removing human intervention reduces errors
  • Troubleshooting and support is improved when everything is deployed the same way

What to automate?

Organizations should always start with the voice of the customer (VoC). IT departments need to factor in what the end user wants and what the end user expects to improve their experience. If you can’t trace back something you’re automating to an improved customer experience, that’s usually a good warning sign that you should not be automating it. In addition, you need to be able to track back to how automation has provided a benefit to the organization. The benefit should always be measurable and always financial.

What are companies automating?

Requests management is the hot one because that’s a major component of cloud computing. This includes service catalogues and self-service portals. Providing a self-service portal, sending the request for approval based on the dollar amount requested, and fulfilling the order through one or more systems is something that is commonly automated today. My advice here is to automate tasks through a general purpose orchestrator tool (such as CA Process Automation or similar tools) so that automated jobs can be managed from a single console. This is instead of stitching together disparate systems that call each other in a “rat’s nest” of automation. The general purpose orchestrator also allows for easier troubleshooting when an automated task does not complete successfully.

How to automate?

There are some things to consider when sitting down to automate a task, or even determining the best things to automate. Here are a few key points:

  1. Start with the VoC or Voice of the Customer, and work backwards to identify the systems that are needed to automate a particular task. For example, maybe the customer is the Human Resources department, and they want to automate the onboarding of a new employee. It may have to setup user accounts, order a new cell phone, order a new laptop, and schedule the new employee on their manager’s calendar on their first day of work. Map out the systems that are required to accomplish this, and integrate those – and no more. You may find that some parts of the procedure may already be automated; perhaps your phone provider already has an interface to programmatically request new equipment. Take every advantage of these components.
  2. Don’t automate things that you can’t trace back to a benefit for the organization. Just because you can automate something doesn’t mean that you should. Again, use the voice of the customer and user stories here. A common user story is structure as follows:
    1. “As a [role],
    2. I want to [get something done]
    3. So that I can [benefit in the following way]”
  3. Start small and work upwards to automate more and more complex tasks. Remember the HR onboarding procedure in point #1? I wouldn’t suggest beginning your automation journey there. Pick out one thing to automate from a larger story, and get it working properly. Maybe you begin by automating the scheduling of an appointment in Outlook or your calendaring system, or creating a user in Active Directory. Those pieces become components in the HR onboarding story, but perhaps other stories as well.
  4. Use a general purpose orchestrator instead of stitching together different systems. As in point #3, using an orchestrator will allow you to build reusable components that are useful to automate different tasks. A general purpose orchestrator also allows for easier troubleshooting when things go wrong, tracking of automation jobs in the environment, and more advanced conditional logic. Troubleshooting automation any other way can be very difficult.
  5. You’ll need someone with software development experience. Some automation packages claim that even non-developers can build robust automation with “no coding required.” In some cases, that may be true. However, the experience that a developer brings to the table is an absolute must have when automating complex tasks like the HR onboarding example in point #1.


What has your organization automated? How have the results been?


My VMworld Breakout Session: Key Lessons Learned from Deploying a Private Cloud Service Catalog

By John Dixon, Consulting Architect, LogicsOne


Last month, I had the special privilege of co-presenting a breakout session at VMworld with our CTO Chris Ward. The session’s title was “Key Lessons Learned from Deploying a Private Cloud Service Catalog,” and we had a full house for it. Overall, the session went great and we had a lot of good questions. In fact, due to demand, we ended up giving the presentation twice.

In the session, Chris and I discussed a recent project we did for a financial services firm where we built a private cloud, front-ended by a service catalogue. A service catalog really enables self-service – it is one component of corporate IT’s opportunity to partner with the business. In a service catalog, the IT department can publish the menu of services that it is willing to provide and (sometimes) the price that it charges for those services. For example, we published a “deploy VM” service in the catalog, and the base offering was priced at $8.00 per day. Additional storage or memory from the basic spec was available at an additional charge. When the customer requests “deploy VM,” the following happens:

  1. The system checks to see if there is capacity available on the system to accommodate the request
  2. The request is forwarded to the individual’s manager for approval
  3. The manager approves or denies the request
  4. The requestor is notified of the approval status
  5. The system fulfills the request – a new VM is deployed
  6. A change record and a new configuration item is created to document the new VM
  7. The system emails the requestor with the hostname, IP address, and login credentials for the new VM

This sounds fairly straightforward, and it is. Implementation is another matter however. It turns out that we had to integrate with vCenter, Active Directory, the client’s ticketing system, and client’s CMDB, an approval system, and the provisioned OS in order to automate the fulfillment of this simple request. As you might guess, documenting this workflow upfront was incredibly important to the project’s success. We documented the workflow and assessed it against the request-approval-fulfillment theoretical paradigm to identify the systems we needed to integrate. One of the main points that Chris and I made at VMworld was to build this automation incrementally instead of tackling it all at once. That is, just get automation suite to talk to vCenter before tying in AD, the ticketing system, and all the rest.

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Self-service, automation, and orchestration all drove real value during this deployment. We were able to eliminate or reduce at least three manual handoffs via this single workflow. Previously, these handoffs were made either by phone or through the client’s ticketing system.

During the presentation we also addressed which systems we integrated, which procedures we selected to automate, and what we plan to have the client automate next. You can check out the actual VMworld presentation here. (If you’re looking for more information around VMworld in general, Chris wrote a recap blog of Pat Gelsinger’s opening keynote as well as one on Carl Eschenbach’s General Session.)

Below are some of the questions we got from the audience:

Q: Did the organization have ITSM knowledge beforehand?

A:The group had very limited knowledge of ITSM but left our project with real-world perspective on ITIL and ITSM

Q: What did we do if we needed a certain system in place to automate something

A: We did encounter this and either labeled it as a risk or used “biomation” (self-service is available, fulfillment is manual, customer doesn’t know the difference) until the necessary systems were made available

Q: Were there any knowledge gaps at the client? If so, what were they?

A: Yes, the developer mentality and service management mentality are needed to complete a service catalog project effectively. Traditional IT engineering and operations do not typically have a developer mentality or experience with languages like Javascript.

Q: Who was the primary group at the client driving the project forward?

A: IT engineering and operations were involved with IT engineering driving most of the requirements.

Q: At which level was the project sponsored?

A: VP of IT Engineering with support from the CIO

All in all, it was a very cool experience to get the chance to present a breakout session at VMworld. If you have any other questions about key takeaways we got from this project, leave them in the comment section. As always, if you’d like more information you can contact us. I also just finished an ebook on “The Evolution of the Corporate IT Department” so be sure to check that out as well!

The Evolution of Your Corporate IT Department

By John Dixon, Consulting Architect, LogicsOne


Corporate IT departments have progressed from keepers of technology to providers of complex solutions that businesses truly rely on. Even a business with an especially strong core competency simply cannot compete without information systems to provide key pieces of technology such as communication and collaboration systems (e.g., email). Many corporate IT departments have become adept providers of technology solutions. We, at GreenPages, think that corporate IT departments should be recognized as providers of services. Also, we think that emerging technology and management techniques are creating an especially competitive market of IT service providers. Professional business managers will no doubt recognize that their internal IT department is perhaps another competitor in this market for IT services. Could the business choose to source their systems to a provider of services other than internal corporate IT?

IT departments large and small already have services deployed to the cloud. We think that organizations should prepare to deploy services to the cloud provider that meets their requirements most efficiently, and eventually, move services between providers to continually optimize the environment. As we’ll show, one of the first steps to enabling this Cloud Management is to use a tool that can manage resources in different environments as if they are running on the same platform. Corporate IT departments can prepare for cloud computing without taking the risk of moving infrastructure or changing any applications.

In this piece, I will describe the market for IT service providers, the progression of corporate IT departments from technology providers to brokers of IT services, and how organizations can take advantage of behavior emerging in the market for IT services. This is not a cookbook of how to build a private cloud for your company—this instead offers a perspective on how tools and management techniques, namely Cloud Management as a Service (CMaaS), can be adopted to take advantage of cloud computing, whatever it turns out to become. In the following pages, we’ll answer these questions:

  1. Why choose a single cloud provider? Why not position your IT department to take advantage of any of them?
  2. Why not manage your internal IT department as if it is already a cloud environment?
  3. Can your corporate IT department compete with a firm whose core competency is providing infrastructure?
  4. When should your company seriously evaluate an application for deployment to an external cloud service provider? Which applications are suitable to deploy to the cloud?


To finish reading, download John’s free ebook







How IT Operations is Like Auto Racing

By John Dixon, Consulting Architect, LogicsOne


If you’ve ever tried your hand at auto racing like I did recently at Road Atlanta, you’ll know that putting up a great lap time is all about technique. If you’ve ever been to a racing school, you’ll also remember that being proactive and planning your corners is absolutely critical in driving safely. Lets compare IT operations to auto racing now. Everyone knows how to, essentially, drive a car. Just as every company, essentially, knows how to run IT. What separates a good driver from a great driver? Technique, preparation, and knowing the capabilities of your driver and equipment.


The driver = your capabilities

The car = your technology

The track = your operations as the business changes



Lets spend a little bit of time on “preparation.” As we all know, preparation time is often a luxury. From what I have seen consulting over the past few years, preparation is not just installed in the culture of IT. But we’d all agree that more preparation leads to better outcomes (for almost everything, really). So, how do we get more preparation time? This is where the outsourcing trend gained momentum – outsource the small stuff to get more time back to work on strategic projects. Well, this didn’t always work out very well, as typical outsourcing arrangements moved large chunks of IT to an outside provider. Why didn’t we move smaller chunks first? That’s what we do in auto racing – the reconnaissance lap! Now we have the technology and arrangements to do a reconnaissance lap of sorts. For example, our Cloud Management as a Service (CMaaS) has this philosophy built-in – we can manage certain parts of infrastructure that you select, and leave others alone. Maybe you’d like to have your Exchange environment fully managed but not your SAP environment. We’ve built CMaaS with the flexible technology and arrangements to do just that.



Auto Racing IT Operations
Safety   first! Check your equipment before heading out, let the car warm up before   increasing speed Make sure   your IT shop can perform as a partner with the business
Know where   to go slow! You can’t take every turn with full throttle. Even if you can,   its worth it to “throw away” some corners in preparation for straight   sections Know where   to allocate investment in IT – its all about producing results for the   business
First lap:   reconnaissance (stay on the track) Avoid   trying to tackle very complex problems with brand new technology (e.g., did   you virtualize Exchange on your very first P2V?)
Last lap:   cool down (stay on the track) An easy   one, manage the lifecycle of your applications and middleware to avoid be   caught by a surprise required upgrade
Know where   to go fast! You can be at full throttle without any brake or steering inputs   (as in straight sections), so dig in! Recognize   established techniques and technologies and use them to the max advantage
Smooth =   fast. Never stab the throttle or the brakes! Sliding all over the track with   abrupt steering and throttle inputs is not the fastest way (but it IS fun and   looks cool) Build   capabilities gradually and incrementally instead of looking to install a   single technology to solve all problems today.
Know the   capabilities of your car – brakes, tires, clutch, handling. Exceed the   capabilities of your equipment and see what happens. Take the   time to know your people, processes, and technology – which things work well   and which could be improved? This depends greatly on your business, but there   are some best practices to run a modern IT shop.
Improve   time with each lap This is   all about continuous improvement – many maneuvers in IT should be repeatable   (like handling a trouble ticket), so do it better every time.
Take a   deep breath, check your gauges, check your harnesses, check your helmet Monitoring   is important, but it is not an endgame for most of us. Be aware of things   that could go wrong, how you could mitigate risk, which workarounds you could   implement, etc.
Carry   momentum around the track. A high horsepower car with a novice driver will   always lose to a great driver in a sedan Technology   doesn’t solve everything. You need proper technique and preparation.
Learn from   your mistakes – they aren’t the end of the world With   well-instrumented monitoring, performance blips or mistakes are opportunities   to improve



A word on capabilities. Capabilities are not something you simply install with software or infrastructure. Just as an aspiring racecar driver can’t simply obtain the capability required to win a professional F1 race with a weekend class. You need assets (e.g., infrastructure, applications, data) and resources (e.g., dollars) to build capabilities. What exactly is a capability? In racing, it’s the ability to get around a track, any track, quickly and safely. In IT, this would be the ability to handle a helpdesk call and resolve the issue to completion, for a basic example. An advanced IT capability in a retail setting might be to produce a report on how frequently shoppers from a particular zip code purchase a certain product. Or, perhaps, it’s an IT governance capability to understand the costs of providing a particular IT service. One thing I’ve seen in consulting with various shops is that organizations could do a better job of understanding their capabilities.

Now picture yourself in the in the driver’s seat (of your IT shop). Know your capabilities, but really think about your technique and continuously improving your “lap times.”

  1. Where are your straight sections – where you can just “floor it” and hang on? These might be well-established processes, projects, or tasks that pay obvious benefits. Can you take some time to create more straight sections?
  2. How much time do you have for preparation? How much time do you spend “studying the track” and “knowing your equipment?” Do you know your capabilities? Can you create time that you can use for preparation?
  3. Where are your slow sections? The processes that require careful attention to detail. This is probably budget planning time for many of us. Hiring time is probably another slow section.
  4. Do you understand your capabilities? Defining the IT services that you provide your customer is a great place to start. If you haven’t done this yet, you should — especially if you’re looking at cloud computing. GreenPages and our partners have some well-established techniques to help you do this successfully.


As always, feel free to reach out if you’d like to have a conversation just to toss around some ideas on this topic.


Now for the fun part, a video that a classmate of mine recorded of a hot lap around Road Atlanta. The video begins in turn 11 (under the bridge in this video).

  1. Turn 11 is important because it is a setup to the front straight section. BUT, it is pretty dangerous too as it leads downhill to turn 12 (the entrance to the straight). Position the car under the RED box on the bridge and give a small amount of right steering input. Build speed down the hill.
  2. Clip the apex of turn 11 and pull the car into turn 12. Be gentle with turn 12 – upset the car over the gators and you could easily lose control.
  3. Under the second bridge and onto the front straight section. Grab 5th gear if you can. Up to ~110mph. Position the car out to the extreme left side of the track for turn 1.
  4. Show no mercy to the brakes for turn 1! Engage ABS, downshift, then trail brake into the right hander, pull the car in to the apex of the turn in 4th gear, carrying 70-80mph.
  5. Uphill for turn 2. Aim the nose of the car at the telephone pole in the distance, as turn 2 is blind. Easy on the throttle!
  6. Collect the apex at turn 2 and downhill for turn 3. Use a dab of brakes to adjust speed as you turn slight right for turn 3.
  7. Turn slight left for turn 4, hug the inside
  8. Track out and downhill for “the esses” – roll on the throttle easily, you’ve got to keep momentum for the uphill section at turn 5.
  9. The esses are a fast part of the track but be careful not to upset the car
  10. Brake slightly uphill for turn 5. It is the entrance to a short straight section where you can gain some speed
  11. Stay in 4th gear for turn 6 and bring the car to the inside of the turn
  12. Track way out to the left for the crucial turn 7 – a slow part of the track. Brake hard and downshift to third gear. Get this one right as it is the entrance to the back straight section.
  13. Build speed on the straight – now is the time to floor it!
  14. Grab 5th gear midway down the straight for 110+ mph. Take a deep breath! Check your gauges and harnesses.
  15. No mercy for the brakes at turn 10a! Downshift to 4th gear, downshift to 3rd gear and trail brake as you turn left
  16. Slight right turn for turn 10b and head back uphill to the bridge – position the car under the RED box and take another lap!


A Guide to Successful Cloud Adoption

Last week, I met with a number of our top clients near the GreenPages HQ in Portsmouth, NH at our annual Summit event to talk about successful adoption of cloud technologies. In this post, I’ll give a summary of my cloud adoption advice, and cover some of the feedback that I heard from customers during my discussions. Here we go…

The Market for IT Services

I see compute infrastructure looking more and more like a commodity, and that there is intense competition in the market for IT services, particularly Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

  1. Every day, Amazon installs as much computing capacity in AWS as it used to run all of Amazon in 2002, when it was a $3.9 billion company.” – CIO Journal, May 2013
  2. “[Amazon] has dropped the price of renting dedicated virtual server instances on its EC2 compute cloud by up to 80 percent […]  from $10 to $2 per hour” – ZDNet,  July 2013
  3. “…Amazon cut charges for some of its services Friday, the 25th reduction since its launch in 2006.” – CRN, February 2013

I think that the first data point here is absolutely stunning, even considering that it covers a time span of 11 years. Of course, a simple Google search will return a number of other similar quotes. How can Amazon and others continue to drop their prices for IaaS, while improving quality at the same time? From a market behavior point of view, I think that the answer is clear – Amazon Web Services and others specialize in providing IaaS. That’s all they do. That’s their core business. Like any other for-profit business, IaaS providers prefer to make investments in projects that will improve their bottom line. And, like any other for-profit business, those investments enable companies like AWS to effectively compete with other providers (like Verizon/Terremark, for example) in the market.

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With network and other technologies as they are, businesses now have a choice of where to host infrastructure that supports their applications. In other words, the captive corporate IT department may be the preferred provider of infrastructure (for now), but they are now effectively competing with outside IaaS providers. Why, then, would the business not choose the lowest cost provider? Well, the answer to that question is quite the debate in cloud computing (we’ll put that aside for now). Suffice to say that we think that internal corporate IT departments are now competing with outside providers to provide IaaS and other services to the business and that this will become more apparent as technology advances (e.g., as workloads become more portable, network speeds increase, storage becomes increasingly less costly, etc.).

Now here’s the punch line and the basis for our guidance on cloud computing; how should internal corporate IT position itself to stay competitive? At our annual Summit event last week, I discussed the progression of the corporate IT department from a provider of technology to a provider of services (see my whitepaper on cloud management for detail). The common thread is that corporate IT evolves by becoming closer and closer to the requirements of the business – and may even be able to anticipate requirements of the business or suggest emerging technology to benefit the business. To take advantage of cloud computing, one thing corporate IT can do is source commodity services to outside providers where it makes sense. Fundamentally, this has been commonplace in other industries for some time – manufacturing being one example. OEM automotive manufacturers like GM and Ford do not produce the windshields and brake calipers that are necessary for a complete automobile – it just isn’t worth it for GM or Ford to produce those things. They source windshields, brake calipers, and other components from companies who specialize. GM, Ford, and others are then left with more resources to invest in designing, assembling and marketing a product that appeals to end users like you and I.

So, it comes down to this: how do internal corporate IT departments make intelligent sourcing decisions? We suggest that the answer is in thinking about packaging and delivering IT services to the business.

GreenPages Assessment and Design Method

So, how does GreenPages recommend that customers take advantage of cloud computing? Even if you are not considering external cloud at this time, I think it makes sense to prepare your shop for it. Eventually, cloud may make sense for your shop even if, at this time, there is no fit for it. The guidance here is to take a methodical look at how your department is staffed and operated. ITIL v2 and v3 provide a good guide here of what should be examined:

  • Configuration Management
  • Financial Management
  • Incident and Problem Management
  • Change Management
  • Service Level and Availability, and Service Catalog Management
  • Lifecycle Management
  • Capacity Management
  • Business Level Management


Assigning a score to each of these areas in terms of repeatability, documentation, measurement, and continuous improvement will paint the picture of how well your department can make informed sourcing decisions. Conducting an assessment and making some housekeeping improvements where needed will serve two purposes:

  1. Plans for remediation could form one cornerstone of your cloud strategy
  2. Doing things according to good practice will add discipline to your IT department – which is valuable regardless of your position on cloud computing at this time

When and if cloud computing services look like a good option for your company, your department will be able to make an informed decision on which services to use at which times. And, if you’re building an internal private cloud, the processes listed above will form the cornerstone of the way you will operate as a service provider.

Case Study: Service Catalog and Private Cloud

Implementing a Service Catalog, corporate IT departments can take a solid first step to becoming a service provider and staying close to the requirements of the business. This year at VMworld in San Francisco, I’ll be leading a session to present a case study of a recent client that did exactly this with our help. If you’re going to be out at VMworld, swing by and listen in to my session!



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What’s Missing from Today’s Hybrid Cloud Management – Leveraging Brokerage and Governance

By John Dixon, Consulting Architect, LogicsOne

Recently GreenPages and our partner Gravitant hosted a webinar on Cloud Service Broker technology. Senior Analyst Dave Bartoletti gave a preface to the webinar with Forrester’s view on cloud computing and emerging technology. In this post we’ll give some perspective on highlights from the webinar. In case you missed it, you can also watch a replay of the webinar here:

Ben Tao, Director of Marketing for Gravitant, kicks off the discussion by describing the traditional data center sourcing model. Two key points here:

  1. Sourcing decisions, largely based on hardware selection, are separated by years
  2. In a cloud world, sourcing decisions can be separated by months or even weeks


The end result is that cloud computing can drive the benefit of a multi-sourcing model for IT, where sourcing decisions are made in close proximity to the use of services. This has the potential of enabling organizations to adjust their sourcing decisions more often to best suit the needs of their applications.

Next, Dave Bartoletti describes the state of cloud computing and the requirements for hybrid cloud management. The core of Dave’s message is that the use of cloud computing is on the rise, and that cloud is being leveraged for more and more complex applications – including those with sensitive data.

Dave’s presentation is based on the statement, “what IT must do to deliver on the hybrid cloud promise…”

Some key points here:

  • Cloud is about IT services first, infrastructure second
  • You won’t own the infrastructure, but you’ll own the service definitions; take control of your own service catalog
  • The cloud broker is at the center of the SaaS provider, cloud VAR, and cloud integrator
  • Cloud brokers can accelerate the cloud application lifecycle


Dave does an excellent job of explaining the things that IT must do in order to deliver on the hybrid cloud promise. Often, conversations on cloud computing are purely about technology, but I think there’s much more at stake. For example, Dave’s first two points above really resonate with me. You can also read “cloud computing” as ITIL-style sourcing. Cloud computing puts service management back in focus. “Cloud is about IT services first, infrastructure second,” and “You won’t own the infrastructure […]” also suggests that cloud computing may influence a shift in the makeup of corporate IT departments – fewer   core technologists and more “T-shaped” individuals. So called T-shaped individuals have knowledge and experience with a broad set of technologies (the top of the “T”), but have depth in one or more areas like programming, Linux, or storage area networking. My prediction is that there will still be a need for core technologists; but that some of them may move into roles to do things like define customer-facing IT services. For this reason, our CMaaS product also includes optional services to deal with this type of workforce transformation. This is an example of a non-technical item that must be made when considering cloud computing. Do you agree? Do you have other non-technical considerations for cloud computing?

Chris Ward, CTO of LogicsOne, then dives in to the functionality of the Cloud Management as a Service, or CMaaS offering. The GreenPages CMaaS product implements some key features that can be used to help customers advance to the lofty points that Dave suggests in his presentation. CMaaS includes a cloud brokerage component and a multi-cloud monitoring and management component. Chris details some main features from the brokerage tool, which are designed to address the key points that Dave brought up:

  • Collaborative Design
  • Customizable Service Catalog
  • Consistent Access for Monitoring and Management
  • Consolidated Billing Amongst Providers
  • Reporting and Decision Support

Chris then gives an example from the State of Texas and the benefits that they realized from using cloud through a broker. Essentially, with the growing popularity of e-voting and the use of the internet as an information resource on candidates and issues, the state knew the demand for IT resources would skyrocket on election day. Instead of throwing away money to buy extra infrastructure to satisfy a temporary surge in demand, Texas utilized cloud brokerage to seamlessly provision IT resources in real time from multiple public cloud sources to meet the variability in demand.

All in all, the 60-minute webinar is time well spent and gives clients some guidance to think about cloud computing in the context of a service broker.

To view this webinar in it’s entirety click here or download this free whitepaper to learn more about hybrid cloud management


Cloud Computing and the Changing Role of IT

By John Dixon, Consulting Architect, LogicsOne

On Tuesday April 29th, I participated in another tweetchat hosted by Cloud Commons. As usual, it was an hour of rapid fire conversation and discussion amongst some really smart people. This time, the topic was based around “cloud computing and the changing role of IT,” and there were some great takeaways from the dialogue.  Below are the six questions that were asked during the chat as well as a quick summary of my thoughts and the thoughts of the group as a whole.

  1. How is cloud computing changing the role of IT?
  2. Besides cloud, what other trends are influential in changing the role of IT?
  3. What steps should the IT department take to become a trusted advisor to the business?
  4. How should the IT department engage with the business on cloud purchases?
  5. Should the IT department make reining in rogue cloud services a top priority?
  6. How can the CIO promote innovation in the era of lower IT spending?


Question 1: How is cloud computing changing the role of IT?

  • The main point I wanted to get across in question one was that corporate IT is no longer just a provider of technology, but, rather, they are a provider of IT services.
  • IT needs to be relevant to the business. They can do this by developing valuable service products
  • IT now needs to be extremely proactive. No more sitting around waiting for something to go wrong… instead get out in front of demands from the business – understand the business’s specific issues, and proactively evaluate emerging technology that may be of benefit
  • All in all, I’d say most of the group was on the same page for this answer


Question 2: Besides cloud, what other trends are influential in changing the role of IT?

  • The most popular answers from participants were: big data, analytics, virtualization, mobility, BYOD, and DevOps. It seemed like every answer had at least one of these included in it.
  • A couple others I threw out were distributed workforce and telecommuters, social media, and the overall increased reliance on IT for everything


Question 3: What steps should the IT department take to become a trusted advisor to the business?

  • The key here is that IT should not try to ALIGN to the business’s demands…IT should PARTNER with the business
  • Another point I brought up was that IT needs to show the business that IT is another provider in a competitive market – corporate IT needs to shows that they deliver more value than alternative providers. After giving this answer, I got a couple questions wondering why IT should compete with 3rd parties rather than leverage them? My point was that cloud opens up competition in the market for IT services and that the business now has a choice of where and how to procure services. At this point it’s a reality, corporate IT is just another competitor in a cloud world.
  • A great answer from Jackie Kahle (@jackiekahle) was to tell the business something they don’t know about their customers by providing data-driven insights. In her opinion, and I agree, this will encourage the business to turn to cororate IT more often.
  • Another good answer from George Hulme (@georgevhulme) was to give users and the business viable alternatives with clear risk/reward/benefits delineated.


Question 4: How should the IT department engage with the business on cloud purchases?

  • My first answer was that IT should source their products and services with the “provider of best fit.” I got the following reply: “that implies choosing best of breed vs. integrated. Cloud practically makes best of breed a foregone conclusion.” The point I was trying to make, and the answer I provided, was that there are varying levels of cloud providers out there so IT departments still need to choose wisely.
  • Andi Mann (@AndiMann) suggested departments need to honestly evaluate their own ability to deliver. He stated in-house IT is not always best and that organizations need to proactively look for cloud to do better. Again, a point I agreed with.


Question 5: Should the IT department make reining in rogue cloud services a top priority?

  • No! Enable and harness their creativity by asking them to use a cloud portal sponsored by corporate IT!
  • IT should treat the business like a customer.
  • The majority of the group agreed that embracing rogue IT was the correct strategy here…not attempting to rein it in.


Question 6: How can the CIO promote innovation in the era of lower IT spending?

  • Ah, the CIO’s favorite saying…”Doing more with less”
  • Provide a means for “safe” Rogue IT (more on that in my summary)
  • Another concept that was echoed by some members of the chat was the idea of adopting a fail-fast culture. Cloud can enable faster deployments, which allows you to try more things quickly, and if you do fail, you can move on. This increases the pace of innovation by enabling the business to take on more “risky” projects – the software development projects that are great ideas but may not have a clear ROI.


My summary

Especially during the past year, in tweetchats and various other forums, consensus on the use and benefits of cloud computing is gaining unanimity. The most significant points:

  • Corporate IT should be a provider of whole IT services “products” and not just technology – and cloud computing can enable this
  • Cloud opens up the business to a competitive market for IT services, of which traditional corporate IT is only one option (thus the role of corporate IT evolves from technology center to order-taker to broker of services)
  • Rogue IT is not necessarily a bad thing; some of the best solutions may come out of rogue projects


GreenPages has been having internal discussions, and discussions with customers, around the concepts highlighted in this tweetchat for some time now.  Because of where the market is heading (as voiced by the thought leaders who took part in this chat) we have developed our Cloud Management as a Service (CMaaS) offering. The product addresses the top issues that are now coming to light – transforming corporate IT into a provider in a competitive market, allowing for a safe place to innovate without being encumbered by policy and process (addressing rogue IT), and, going a step further, enabling consistent management across cloud environments. The premise behind CMaaS is to turn cloud inside out – to manage your internal environment as if it was already deployed in a cloud environment. Glance at this whitepaper I wrote about the concepts behind cloud management as a service and let me know what you think. I’d be very interested to hear people’s takes on whether or not a product like this can address some of the needs in the marketplace today.


If you would like to learn more about CMaaS, fill out this form and someone will be in touch with you shortly.


Is Cloud Computing Ready for Prime Time?

By John Dixon, Senior Solutions Architect


A few weeks ago, I took part in another engaging tweetchat on Cloud Computing. The topic: is cloud computing ready for enterprise adoption? You can find the transcript here.


As usual with tweetchats hosted by CloudCommons, five questions are presented a few days in advance of the event. This time around, the questions were:

  1. Is Public Cloud mature enough for enterprise adoption?
  2. Should Public Cloud be a part of every business’s IT strategy?
  3. How big of a barrier are legacy applications and hardware to public cloud adoption?
  4. What’s the best way to deal with cloud security?
  5. What’s the best way to get started with public cloud?


As far as Question #1, the position of most people in the chat session this time was that Public Cloud is mature enough for certain applications in enterprises today. The technology certainly exists to run applications “in the cloud” but regulations and policies may not be ready to handle an application’s cloud deployment. Another interesting observation from the tweetchat was that most enterprises are indeed running applications “in the cloud” right now. GreenPages considers applications such as Concur and as running “in the cloud.” And of course, many organizations large and small run these applications successfully. I’d also consider ADP as a cloud application. And of course, many organizations make use of ADP for payroll processing.

Are enterprises mature enough for cloud computing?

Much of the discussion during question #1 turned the question on end – the technology is there, but enterprises are not ready to deploy applications there. GreenPages’ position is that, even if we assume that cloud computing is not yet ready for prime time, then it certainly will be soon. Organizations should prepare for this eventuality by gaining a deep understanding of the IT services they provide, and how much a particular IT service costs. When one or more of your IT services can be substituted for one that runs (reliably and inexpensively) in the cloud, will your company be able to make the right decision to take advantage of that condition? Also, another interesting observation: some public cloud offerings may be enterprise-ready, but not all public cloud vendors are enterprise-grade. We agree.

Should every business have a public cloud strategy?

Most of the discussion here pointed to a “yes” answer. Or that an organization’s strategy will eventually, by default, include consideration for public cloud. We think of cloud computing as a sourcing strategy in and of itself – especially when thinking of IaaS and PaaS. Even now, IaaS vendors are essentially providers of commodity IT services. Most commonly, IaaS vendors can provide you with an operating system instance: Windows or Linux. For IaaS, the degree of abstraction is very high, as an operating system instance can be deployed on a wide range of systems – physical, virtual, paravirtual, etc. The consumer of these services doesn’t mind where the OS instance is running, as long as it is performing to the agreed SLA. Think of Amazon Web Services here. Depending on the application that I’m deploying, there is little difference whether I’m using infrastructure that is running physically in Northern Virginia or in Southern California. At GreenPages, we think that this degree of abstraction will move in to the enterprise as corporate IT departments evolve to behave more like service providers… and probably evolve in to brokers of IT services – supported by a public cloud strategy.

Security and legacy applications

Two questions revolved around legacy applications and security as barriers to adoption. Every organization has a particular application that will not be considered for cloud computing. The arguments are similar for the reasons why we never (or, are just beginning to) virtualize legacy applications. Sometimes, virtualizing specialized hardware is, well, really hard and just not worth the effort.

What’s the best way to get started with public cloud?

“Just go out and use Amazon,” was a common response to this question, both in this particular tweetchat and in other discussions. Indeed, trying Amazon for some development activities is not a bad way to evaluate the features of public cloud. In our view, the best way to get started with cloud is to begin managing your datacenter as if it were a cloud environment, with some tool that can manage traditional and cloud environments the same way. Even legacy applications. Even applications with specialized hardware. Virtual, physical, paravirtual, etc. Begin to monitor and measure your applications in a consistent manner. This way, when an application is deployed to a cloud provider, your organization can continue to monitor, measure, and manage that application using the same method. For those of us who are risk-averse, this is the easiest way to get started with cloud! How is this done? We think you’ll see that Cloud Management as a Service (CMaaS) is the best way.

Would you like to learn more about our new CMaaS offering? Click here to receive some more information.

Happy Techsgiving! Top 7 Tech Gadgets I’m Thankful for in 2012

By John Dixon

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I decided to take a couple minutes to think about what tech gadgets I have been most thankful for in 2012. I’ve seen both consumers and corporate clients really begin to embrace a few technologies over the past year. As a consultant, a lot of these things make life easier for me, my coworkers, and my company.

1. DropBox

…and other online file-sharing/storage solutions. This is more of a selfish item. I use DropBox personally to sync documents and data across various devices. Being on the road much of the time, I’ve assembled a small arsenal of technology to try and find that allusive combination that truly helps me deliver services to my clients. More and more devices sometimes makes it more difficult to stay organized. One platform, like DropBox, that helps me access my documents from any device is a technology that I’ve grown to rely on.

2. SSD Drives

For the first time, I can run several virtual machines and my desktop OS from my laptop, without sacrificing performance. I never thought I would need to do this, but it certainly helps my day-to-day productivity. I run one desktop that is always connected to the VPN of my client project, one for my GreenPages desktop, and my desktop OS to access documents on my local machine. Being able to instantly switch between them has been a huge help to me lately. Sometimes I’ll spin up a new VM to test a concept or a piece of code. The SSD makes all of this possible.

3. Cloud Infrastructure Services

Being able to spin up a virtual environment quickly and for low cost has really been helpful for both me and some of my clients. For example, recently I was able to spin up a J2EE (Tomcat, mysql, Apache) environment for a day to test something for one of my clients. I didn’t need to keep any of the data in the environment, so I used it for a day and shut it down, all for about $2.00 or so. Once the monitoring and management is ironed out, I really think this type of IaaS will be a very attractive alternative for corporate clients, especially development groups and startups.

4. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

GreenPages recently adopted this option for desktop computing, and I think it is fantastic. Having an arsenal of technology available to you is one thing, but having the arsenal of technology that you are comfortable using and are excited about is another. BYOD allows employees to get the technology that best fits their working style and expertise. I think this will become more and more important as the trend advances to employ more and more remote resources. And the next generation of workers – those who have grown up with all-the-time connectivity – will almost certainly work more efficiently with BYOD policies instead of TIWYG (This Is What You Get) policies.

5. Cloud Collaboration Platforms

This one is similar to #1, but more along the lines of collaboration. I work in a distributed team where face-to-face communication is not always possible. Being able to share documents and track issues from the same platform is almost necessary when it comes to complex projects.

6. App Stores

I admit, I like Apple stuff. I’ve heard the resentment of the Apple App Store – it’s a closed system, Apple gives only a 30% cut to developers, etc. But how often do you see a small organization or even a single individual effectively competing in the same market/landscape with large corporations? The cool thing about the App Store is that it narrows the focus on quality and experience of the product (the App, in this case). Sometimes the smaller organizations, including some of our clients, can deliver higher quality products and services than the “big guys.” App Stores are cool because they basically level the playing field.

7. Bluetooth In Rental Cars

I travel a decent amount so this is obviously extremely helpful when I am on the road. Another thing I can be thankful for!

What technologies are you Thankful for this year?


GreenPages is holding an event in Atlanta next week on the 28th. Come listen to our experts discuss everything from clustered datacenters, to buzz from VMworld, to VDI battlefield stories.