I am one of those people old enough to say I lived through the 70s, and as I think back to those times it always makes me a bit nostalgic. Those were very simple times, and growing up as a kid back then was fantastic. Over the years I have seen hundreds if not thousands of data centers, some are as modern as they get, others felt a little bit like the 70s, stuck in the old ways of doing things and not exploring what could be possible given all the new technology that is available today.

There are those who say, “why change, we’ve always done it this way”, others who say, “our data is like our crown jewels, I would never trust it to anyone other than my own team”, and then you have others who simply say “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead into the future!” If we look at some of the most disruptive technologies over the years, we would more than likely have a list similar to the one below.

  • Automobile
  • Telephone
  • Airplane

An ad for the 1972 Gran Torino / Image courtesy John W. via flickr.

No reptiles were harmed making this “customized” phone / Image courtesy maripuchi via flickr.

“All the excitement, gaiety and romance you’ve always yearned for!” / Image courtesy Dan H. via flickr.

Yeah, yeah … what about computer technology.

  • Personal Computer
  • Internet
  • Email
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS)
  • Cell Phones
  • Mobile Computing/Laptops
  • WiFi
  • Smartphones
  • Social networking
  • Cloud

If we look at this list, each item probably triggers a memory for us: when we first saw it, used it, or even heard about it. Cloud is one of the most—if not the most—disruptive at this time. IDC has done extensive research and analysis on this new era of mobile, cloud-enabled IT and has named it the 3rd Platform. Mainframe/Terminal was the 1st platform; Open System/PC was the 2nd platform; and Cloud/Mobile is the 3rd platform.

It has taken quite some time for us to get to this point, however. Back in 2007, “the cloud” was being talked about as something that was truly a reality by many of the large storage companies. You could put everything in “the cloud,” it will be wonderful, they said. In 2008 and 2009, we talked a lot about saving CAPEX and leveraging OPEX to springboard your company to “the cloud.” And finally in 2012, we started to pull back the curtains and say exactly what cloud is: someone else’s data center with network, compute, and storage. Basically, all the storage companies out there were trying to get you to buy their “cloud,” but in reality they weren’t really a cloud company from the beginning.

And all along the way, customers have asked the right questions: what about security, access and control? You are right to ask those questions, you are right to suggest that your data is the crown jewels of your company. However, I believe you are standing still if you say, “we’ve always done it this way, we won’t go to the cloud.” And when you stand still, your competition will surely catch up—and potentially pass you up.

I believe you are standing still if you say, “we’ve always done it this way, we won’t go to the cloud.” And when you stand still, your competition will surely catch up—and potentially pass you up.

Moving to the cloud shouldn’t be a technology decision. Let me repeat that. Moving to the cloud should not be a technology decision. It is a business decision more than anything else.

Let’s look at the three examples of people I mentioned earlier.

  • We’ve always done it this way
  • Our data is the crown jewels of our company
  • Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead

During the 19th century Battle of Mobile Bay, US Navy Admiral David Farragut famously (to victory) ordered, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Its merits as a 21st century cloud adoption strategy remain dubious at best. / Image courtesy TimWebb via flickr.

There are no easy answers to these questions. In fact, the skills and resources needed to make this journey happen are elusive and scarce. We looked across the marketplace, and the current providers were clearly not equipped to fulfill the needs that the customers were demanding as the paradigm rapidly transitions from the second to third platform.

I’ve already touched on #1, but let me dig in a bit more. Innovation should be the primary focus for any IT organization, but innovation is often stifled due to having to spend nearly 80% of an IT budget just to keep the lights on. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could offload some of that budget and re-purpose it into other things that would help drive the core business?

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could offload some of that budget and re-purpose it into other things that would help drive the core business?

That leads to #2, the crown jewels of the company, the data. Here’s the reality: the argument that cloud isn’t secure just doesn’t hold as much water as it did in early 2000. So if we can move beyond the security issue, let’s address the crown jewels and only your staff being the stewards of these jewels. This becomes a discussion of economies and scale. Let’s use the following chart as a road map.

As you can see for yourself, in a traditional IT infrastructure, IT owns everything and some may even call this “legacy IT.” As some customers begin to dip their toes in the water, so to speak, they have decided to try infrastructure as a service, which still allows IT to own most of this stack, while offloading some of the physical stack to the vendor. So you now have more time to focus on your core competencies and your end users, while also gaining the ability to shift your typical 80% budget spend of “keeping the lights on” to something that frees up your staff to focus on higher priority tasks and projects, while offloading some of the management to your cloud provider (vendor). You still have quite a bit on your plate, but if you are developing custom apps, it may make more sense for you to focus on an IaaS offering, than one of the other offerings.

So you can visually see how this progresses, but I don’t want you to all of a sudden become like my #3 example, “Damned the torpedoes”, and just push everything to the cloud and see what happens. Examining your workloads, your desired business outcomes, and what you need to remain competitive in your market are all very important components to making the right decision when moving some of your data, systems, compute, and workloads to the cloud. I believe it is a gamble to move everything to the cloud without first inspecting your business needs and desired outcomes.

It is a gamble to move everything to the cloud without first inspecting your business needs and desired outcomes.

There are more advantages than disadvantages to move some of your data and workloads to the cloud, and there are a number of tools available to help you monitor not only your primary data center, but your cloud data centers as well.

We would like the opportunity to work with your organization to help you determine best practices for your unique environment, and business. Elovate was created from the ground up as an emerging technologies partner focused on helping IT wade through the complexities of true data center transformation and transition to cloud. We may have lived through the 70s, but our company was born in the cloud. Our customers get the best of both worlds: the experience of challenges associated with bespoke IT and the knowledge to elevate your innovation to the next platform, the 3rd Platform.  Whether you are considering private (including on premise data center solutions), hybrid, or public cloud solutions, we have solutions to help streamline your IT operations, while addressing the needs of the core business.

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