Use young lawyers and more thoughts from CIOs moving to the cloud

One of the biggest roadblock to adopting the public cloud for Rich Roseman, former CIO at 21st Century Fox had nothing to do with bandwidth, vendor-lock in or security. It had to do with lawyers. Specifically, old lawyers who couldn’t adapt their contracts to the new world of the cloud.

“If your attorneys are in their 40s, 50s or 60s, you’re hosed,” he said at the eCloud Summit, an event hosted by Actifio in Austin, Texas. He added that younger lawyers still offered hope and recounted a story of a time when he was the CIO of an organization transitioning from PeopleSoft to Concur, a Software-as-a-Service (Saas) provider. The companies spent a year arguing a single point in the negotiations over who would cover the credit monitoring for the roughly 50,000 employees that would need the service should the Concur service experience a security breach.

At that point, Roseman said that he took a look at the cost of covering the employees, which his company already did, and the cost of paying the lawyer for the negotiations for that year and realized that this single point was beyond silly and they just did the deal. But it’s that sort of mentality that can suck the agility out of bringing on a cloud provider if you aren’t careful.

Roseman, who is currently consulting in the industry, also offered other words of wisdom, pointing out that while many CIOs cite security worries as a reason to avoid moving to the cloud, he’s fairly certain that the SaaS vendors and service providers he buys from have better, more hardened security in place than his own internal operations. However, after Roseman went on, I moderated a panel of six CIOs who had a far more pessimistic viewpoint.

Perhaps it was because many of them were in charge of IT operations at major financial institutions, but many of them weren’t moving many of their workloads to the public cloud — and by public cloud, they meant service provider clouds from Verizon or IBM, not Google or Amazon. Michael Simone, managing director and global engineering head at Citi, explained that his organization is a big believer in the benefits of moving to the cloud, so it is building an internal one.

Because of the regulatory environment and concerns about data security — among other issues — Simone can’t take his workloads outside Citi, but the agility and ability to charge particular departments for computing are reasons to implement an internal cloud. Agility came up often on the panel, although it seemed that in many cases, there could be too much agility. John F. Giattino, SVP and Group Technology Manager for Wells Fargo, said that in some cases the IT department found itself moving faster than the compliance department and needed to slow down. Even Mike Kail, CIO at Yahoo, found himself moving faster than the culture the internet giant sometimes was comfortable with.

His advice to the roughly 300 people in the audience was to find ways to change the culture in the business you’re working in so they have business reasons to adopt the cloud. His suggestions included moving from an attachment-based document culture to a real-time collaborative one.

Yet the panel ended on a somewhat optimistic note. Most of the panelists agreed that most workloads would end up in the cloud in five or 10 years with only a few dissenting, mostly for security reasons or because a new technology shift might make the cloud less relevant. Maybe in a decade we’ll be having panels about the shift to decentralized blockchain-based architectures?

Full Spectrum Laser debuts 2 3D printers that fit on your desk

Full Spectrum Laser, the 3D printing company behind the Pegasus Touch printer, is back with its second line of desktop printers. And while other companies are expanding into larger machines, FSL is doing the opposite.

The new Phoenix Touch and Phoenix Touch Pro will have build areas measuring in at 3.78 x 2.13 x 3.94 inches and 2.5 x 1.6 x 3.9, respectively, compared to the Pegasus Touch’s 7 x 7 x 9 inches. Their overall size is similarly scaled down, making them a better fit for already-crowded desktops.

The Phoenix Touch Pro.

The Phoenix Touch Pro.

FSL’s printers use a more unusual 3D printing technology known as digital light processing. DLP uses almost the exact technology found in overhead projectors to project light onto a vat of liquid plastic. The light causes the resin to cure layer by layer, gradually building up a hard object.

Like stereolithography, a similar 3D printing technology that uses a laser to cure liquid resin, DLP is an excellent option for achieving super-fine detail in 3D prints. The new Phoenix Touch will be able to print layers as thin as 0.05 millimeters.

No prices have been released, but if the $3,499 Pegasus Touch is any indication, FSL is likely to keep the machines’ price tags on the lower end of the spectrum.

3D printed objects on the Pro's bed.

3D printed objects on the Pro’s bed.

8 Reasons Not to Move to Cloud

Cloud-based solutions present the largest opportunity today for the enterprise, business, IT and the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Recent conversations have posed the question about cloud adoption in the enterprise. On the whole, just about every enterprise today is leveraging cloud in some form. It may be a simple application or a complex ERP system. Overall, however, the adoption is fairly anemic. With all of the reasons that drive enterprises to leverage cloud-based solutions, there are a number of reasons that may offer the CIO a moment of pause.

The moment of pause may be temporary or it may be a longer-term situation. In either case, it is important to understand the reasons why in order to respect the decisions. Disclaimer: Not all decisions may make sense to an outsider and some may be a bit irrational. Here are a few of the top reasons organizations may not move an application or workload to a cloud-based alternative.

  1. Application Readiness: The vast majority of applications in use today were never architected with cloud in mind. Sure, the application may have been virtualized, but is it really ready for cloud and offer the same SLA to customers? In one example, a major enterprise firm runs a business-critical app (non-virtualized) running on Windows NT on a tower Compaq Proliant server in their data center. The application cannot be virtualized, let alone migrated to cloud. Are there existing risks to how the application? Yes. But this example is not unique or rare.
  2. Security: The application or more importantly, the data is sensitive and a data breach would present a significant risk to the organization. An extreme example might be secure missions for the government or business-critical Intellectual Property (IP). That is not to say that cloud-based solutions are not secure. But the cloud-based offering that best suits the application may present a challenge (real or perceived).
  3. Cost/ ROI: Yes, cloud is not just about cost savings. However, the all-in cost to migrate and operate an application using cloud-based solutions may not outweigh the option of ‘do nothing.’ For example, if it costs $50k to provide $10k of value, why should it move? Do the other benefits of cloud provide the value? Maybe not.
  4. Priorities: There are risks to moving to cloud and activity required to do so. Does the priority of moving a specific application to cloud overvalue that of other requests coming from Line of Business (LOB) teams? For most IT organizations, their plate is already overflowing and cloud migration creates a conflict in priorities.
  5. Culture: Culture is a hard thing to change. It requires changing many moving parts including the CIO, IT organization, executive team and fellow business units. Bottom line: It does not change overnight. It requires strong leadership, vision and tenacity.
  6. Organization Capability: Is the IT organization cloud-ready? Meaning, how well has the organization truly prepared to consider a cloud-first methodology? As an example, have they adopted a DevOps methodology? Or does the organization look at cloud as simply a different form of virtualization? There are many aspects to consider about the team, their skills and processes before making the move.
  7. Market Maturity: Even if all of the pieces are in place and an application is a good candidate for cloud, the market offerings may not offer the level of maturity required. In tech terms, cloud is just entering it’s teenage years and still rough around the edges. Are there mature solutions in the mix? Yes. But also a number of rambunctious alternatives too.
  8. FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Yes, it is 2014, and it is well and alive in the CIO and IT organization. Is cloud a fad? It is easy to point the finger at FUD and most really despise this issue, but that does not change the fact that it is a reality in some organizations today.

With all of the negativity, there are a number of very valid reasons to hold off on cloud. Timing is everything. Three months from now, the landscape can change to present a different decision.

For those CIOs that see the promise that cloud provides, they will address many of these issues. Some issues may present a challenge for some time to come. Key is to consider the holistic view of cloud, and what it represents in terms of opportunities and challenges. In the end, business leaders do not care how an application is delivered. They just want it delivered. Aside from the reasons above, cloud still provides significant opportunities too.

Seven Things the CIO should consider when adopting a holistic cloud strategy

As conversations about cloud computing continues to focus on IT’s inability at holistic adoption, organizations outside of IT continue their cloud adoption trek outside the prevue of IT. While many of these efforts are considered Shadow IT efforts and frowned upon by the IT organization, they are simply a response to a wider problem.

The IT organization needs to adopt a holistic cloud strategy. However, are CIOs really ready for this approach? Michael Keithley, Creative Artists Agency’s CIO just returned from CIO Magazine’s CIO 100 Symposium which brings together the industry’s best IT leaders. In his blog post, he notes that “(he) was shocked to find that even among this elite group of CIOs there were still a significant amount of CIOs who where resisting cloud.” While that perspective is widely shared, it does not represent all CIOs. There are still a good number of CIOs that have moved to a holistic cloud strategy. The problem is that most organizations are still in a much earlier state of adoption.

In order to develop a holistic cloud strategy, it is important to follow a well-defined process. The four steps are straightforward and fit just about any organization:

  1. Assess: Provide a holistic assessment of the entire IT organization, applications and services that is business focused, not technology focused. For the CIO, they are a business leader that happens to have responsibility for technology. Understand what is differentiating and what is not.
  2. Roadmap: Use the options and recommendations from the assessment to provide a roadmap. The roadmap outlines priority and valuations that ultimately drive the alignment of IT.
  3. Execute: This is where the rubber hits the road. IT organizations will learn more about themselves through action. For many, it is important to start small (read: lower risk) and ramp up quickly.
  4. Re-Assess & Adjust: As the IT organization starts down the path of execution, lessons are learned and adjustments needed. Those adjustments will span technology, organization, process and governance. Continual improvement is a key hallmark to staying in tune with the changing demands.

For many, following this process alone is not enough to develop a holistic cloud strategy. In order to successfully leverage a cloud-based solution, several things need to change that may contradict current norms. Today, cloud is leveraged in many ways from Software as a Service (SaaS) to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). However, it is most often a very fractured and disjointed approach to leveraging cloud. Yet, the very applications and services in play require that organizations consider a holistic approach in order to work most effectively.

When considering a holistic cloud strategy, there are a number of things the CIO needs to consider including these six:

  1. Challenge the Status Quo: This is one of the hardest changes as the culture within IT developed over decades. One example is changing the mindset that ‘critical systems may not reside outside your own data center’ is not trivial. On the other hand, leading CIOs are already “getting out of the data center business.” Do not get trapped by the cultural norms and the status quo.
  2. Differentiation: Consider which applications and services are true differentiators for your company. Focus on the applications and services that provide strategic value and shift more common functions (ie: email) to alternative solutions like Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps.
  3. Align with Business Strategy: Determine how IT can best enable and catapult the company’s business strategy. If IT is interested in making a technology shift, consider if it will bring direct positive value to the business strategy. If it does not, one should ask a number of additional questions determining the true value of the change. With so much demand on IT, focus should be on those changes that bring the highest value and align with the business strategy.
  4. Internal Changes: Moving to cloud changes how organizations, processes and governance models behave. A simple example is how business continuity and disaster recovery processes will need to change in order to accommodate the introduction of cloud-based services. For organizations, cloud presents both an excitement of something new and a fear from loss of control and possible job loss. CIOs need to ensure that this area is well thought out before proceeding.
  5. Vendor Management: Managing a cloud provider is not like every other existing vendor relationship. Vendor management comes into sharp focus with the cloud provider that spans far more than just the terms of the Service Level Agreement (SLA).
  6. Exit Strategy: Think about the end before getting started. Exiting a cloud service can happen for good or bad reasons. Understand what the exit terms are and in what for your data will exist. Exporting a flat file could present a challenge if the data is in a structured database. However, that may be the extent of the provider’s responsibility. When considering alternative providers, recognize that shifting workloads across providers is not necessarily as trivial as it might sound. It is important to think this through before engaging.
  7. Innovation: Actively seek out ways to adopt new solutions and methodologies. For example, understand the value from Devops, OpenStack, Containers and Converged Infrastructure. Each of these may challenge traditional thinking, which is ok.

Those are seven of the top issues that often come up in the process of setting a holistic cloud strategy. Cloud offers the CIO, the IT organization and the company as a whole one of the greatest opportunities today. Cloud is significant, but only the tip of the iceberg. For the CIO and their organization, there are many more opportunities beyond cloud today that are already in the works.

Orange Maker is building a 3D printer with a twist

The recently launched startup has reinvented the stereolithographic 3D printer with a design that cuts out the need for a break between printing layers, allowing it to print constantly. It will go on sale in 2015.