Turning the IT landscape upside down


My “Journey to the Private cloud”  post got me thinking (you know you want to say it “uh oh, he’s thinking”) and specifically the part about pure play Service Providers like Savvis, Terremark, Amazon S3 and even utility providers like Verizon and AT&T etc.  It’s dawning on me that these companies have the potential to really throw the IT landscape upside down.  At least, that’s what it looks like to me. Follow me on this:

A few weeks ago I was up at the EMC Executive Briefing Center in Hopkinton shadowing vSpecialists on some executive briefings.  In one of the meetings I heard a funny story from Ben Dunning, rockstar and overall UBER vSpecialist.  Now, this story could be “Urban Legend” but it sounds plausible enough that I’m going to claim it to be true 🙂  The story goes a little something like this:  An e-mail goes out from finance to a developer asking why he seems to be expensing a lot of books. You see, the finance group is getting a lot of “Amazon” bills and just wanted to understand why.  The developer writes back, “It’s storage for some temporary projects we are working on”.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  Essentially it was way too easy for him swipe his credit card and get immediate access to cloud storage than it was to ask the IT organization for it.  If you want a real world example of this, just take a look at DropBox. (if you need a dropbox account use this link 🙂 ).  $20 a month gives you 100GB of cloud space!!  (If you own an iPad it’s a “must have” along with GoodReader.) 

So why do I think this is a big deal? Well, there are a couple of reason, for the sake of this particular blog post I’m going to focus on service providers but I could easily write a blog post around security and information governance (future blog post alert).   One large reason is the Service Providers offer unique ability to lower the cost barrier for startups.  Not to mention, the ability to allow existing IT organization to burst outside of their private cloud infrastructure and absorb seasonal upticks by utilizing these providers infrastructure.

Let’s look at the industry trend and the overall IT landscape.  It’s so much easier for a developer (or even an IT organization) to swipe their credit card at a Savvis, Terremark, Peer1 type company then it is to start the internal process of asking for (or purchasing) more capacity.  There are a TON of Service Providers that can spin up VM’s as quickly as you can swipe your card.  Companies like Google are picking up more and more customers looking to outsource their e-mail applications as well as Microsoft rolling out their hosted Exchange.  Hosted Virtual Desktops are starting to make a name for themselves.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to take a little while for these service providers to stake their claim as significant “disruptive technology” but the writing is on the wall.  As more and more companies start moving their internal IT departments to a private cloud/ IT as a service model, it’s going to be really easy for these companies to utilize these service providers to help grow their business.

Imagine that you are a retailer and you are 30days away from “Black Friday”, the “Super Bowl and World Series” combined event that moves your company into the profitability side of the balance sheet.  If they have their own internal private cloud, they could easily call up a company like Terremark and provision out 10 frontend webservers and federate their datacenters together to help minimize the risk of some issue causing their systems to become unavailable.  They could easily move some of their applications into a Terremark type company’s public cloud (hot and on the fly) and scale out for 2 or 3 months.  Then at the end of the season, easily collapse it all back into their datacenter.  In the past, these companies had to sort of “guess” what their IT needs were and hope that their website didn’t crash on that day. 

As I mentioned in my last blog, I’m seeing less and less “how is your array better/different than their array” in customer meetings or even EMC vs NetApp vs Xiotech.  Cost Per raw vs useable TB is even going away from a point of discussion.  Instead the discussions are more around “how can you help me move to secure, private cloud based solutions” or “how can you help me get my hands around information governance”.  Especially as we look at more and more IT as a Service offerings like Virtual Desktops.  At the end of the day, in the grand scheme of things, do you really care who has the best HBA or do you want to be able to deploy solutions to help keep company confidential information from being copied over to a USB stick and walked next door to your biggest competitor.  You want to see a killer user case for Private Cloud based VDI and Data Loss Preventention security? – read this: “Former Employee Stole Ford Secrets worth $50 Million”

Don’t get me wrong, we still have the religious wars going on in the various “centers of excellence” inside the datacenter (Network, Server and Storage teams), but more and more Director, VP’s of IT and CIO’s are wanting/needing their teams to focus on the broad picture, and get out of the “rack and stack” world they are living in.  Transitions Aren’t easy !! (perfect timing Chuck !! ). 


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