In my last column, I made the point that viewing cloud computing as merely providing greater agility – that is, faster access to computing resources – fails to grasp the full potential it provides. What cloud computing supports is far more valuable than the capability to do the same stuff faster. Its true value lies in its capability to enable innovation – doing different stuff that couldn’t be done before.
To illustrate this, I cited the example of Opternative, a company that has just had its online eye examination technology approved by the FDA. Opternative uses cloud computing to innovate the eye correction value chain in two ways:
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Jack Welch, the long-time and legendary CEO of GE, once famously advised, “Change before you have to.”
For Offis CEO Chy Chuawiwat, Welch’s axiom struck a chord. Offis, an Australia-based managed services provider (MSP), works with software vendors,…
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People who operate clouds — you can call yourselves “cloud ops” — understand that the work is harder than you were originally told. There are many systems and subsystems to consider, including storage, database, and application layers.
Furthermore, today’s reality is not the single-cloud deployments originally envisioned. Complex hybrid clouds and multiclouds are more prevalent these days than single clouds. Indeed, you could have as many as a dozen clouds under management.
[ From Amazon to Azure, InfoWorld puts IaaS clouds to the test to find out which is best for you. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld’s Cloud Computing newsletter. ]
If you’re charged with cloud ops, you need to learn how to place a layer of technology between yourself and complex cloud services — and learn fast.
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Ubiquitous public cloud services are making stronger strides into the world of business technology, and enterprises are increasingly looking to cloud services to help them succeed. Cloud services stretch across the business value chain, including ideation, prototyping, product development, business planning, go-to-market strategy, marketing, finance, and strategic growth. Consumption patterns vary by service. For the past few years, the businesses has owned certain services, in some cases without keeping their technology management teams in loop — AKA “shadow IT”. Every business unit engages in this behavior, each one sourcing the various services they use from multiple providers. As a result, today’s businesses face a complex array of cloud services, each with their own business functions and requirements. The emerging cloud landscape does not provide a “single pane of glass” for the tech management team and lacks a standard governance model across services. Finally, it does not allow firms to compare costs for a standard service, which could result in suboptimal spending. This situation is creating a need for what we call “cloud orchestration solutions”. Such a solution would provide:
- A single window on all cloud services. It merges all required and approved service types from multiple cloud service providers into a single portal, much like the ITSM service portals that offered services built within an organization.
- Information on the service provider most suited to a given workload.
- Comparison of services across service providers.
- Consistent governance models across services.
- Control over service life cycles and thus service cost.
What’s the situation at your enterprise? If you’re a tech vendor or an outsourcing service provider, what are you seeing at your customers’ organizations? How do you see the environment shaping up? Please share your comments, practices, and setups.
My colleague Henry Baltazar and I have been watching the development of new systems and storage technology for years now, and each of us has been trumpeting in our own way the future potential of new non-volatile memory technology (NVM) to not only provide a major leap for current flash-based storage technology but to trigger a major transformation in how servers and storage are architected and deployed and eventually in how software looks at persistent versus nonpersistent storage.
All well and good, but up until very recently we were limited to vague prognostications about which flavor of NVM would finally belly up to the bar for mass production, and how the resultant systems could be architected. In the last 30 days, two major technology developments, Intel’s further disclosure of its future joint-venture NVM technology, now known as 3D XPoint™ Technology, and Diablo Technologies introduction of Memory1, have allowed us to sharpen the focus on the potential outcomes and routes to market for this next wave of infrastructure transformation.
Intel/Micron Technology 3D XPoint™ Technology
Still short of a product announcement, this was more of a (partial) clarification of Intel’s next generation NVM plans, which they have coyly hinted at with no detail for about a year. This announcement, while still not really specifying exact product shipping dates, pricing, delivered density or even exactly what kind of device it is (although the collective betting is that it is a variant of phase change memory, into which Intel has reportedly invested a lot of money), at least gave us some significant hints:
Recent news reports highlight retailers making deals with Amazon to sell products through their site. This is basically an extension of services Amazon has offered to smaller retailers for several years. If you are considering this stop and think. The temptation may be great, and looking at a few of the brands on the list I can see why they think they need this, but it smacks of desperation. Let me put an image in your mind. Think of the devil sitting on one side of your shoulders and an angel sitting on the other. One is saying “come over to the dark side, we have cookies” while the other is saying “they look good but there will be a price to pay.”
Does this sound too extreme? Amazon is like heroin, delivering a major rush at first. New visibility for your brands and products leads to higher sales. The problem being the high wears off, the devil wants his due, and you can’t get free by saying the devil made me do it. Once Amazon has you in their grip they will use every piece of information they gather to build their business at your expense. Literally, everything they do is done for a reason. Think you have unique products? What will they do with the information? Can they do a knock-off and produce it themselves? What about similar products in their assortment, they will use this data for pricing tests. And don’t forget they are using you to help fund their Amazon Prime program.
Sure Amazon has brand power, but it’s not your brand power. Do you believe in your brand? If the answer is no then go ahead because the handwriting is on the wall. Some brands that are on the downhill slope may extend themselves long enough to garner revenue. If the answer is yes then the question is a different one. Have you developed a strategically placed marketing plan to drive digital business growth? Ecommerce is growing exponentially for many retailers. Is digital growth what you want to do? If so what’s your strategy for physical retail? How much of your business do you want to transfer from bricks to digital? If you can’t answer these questions then don’t make the leap.
If you decide to partner with Amazon I wish you all the best. Make sure you have a clear goal in mind for how dependent you want to become. Do you want 10% of your digital revenue to come through Amazon? Or is 20% the right number? Just make sure you know what the number is and that you go in with an understanding of how you will replace the sales volume should your plans change. Start with an exit plan in mind. Structure a deal on your terms not theirs. Good luck with that as they know you need them but they don’t need you. If you’re not desperate just say no.