AUTHOR: Eric Ledyard
In my past life I was focused primarily on hardware and software sales for building internal private clouds. The thing that always seemed to be a limiting factor for us was: “Well, what about the apps? Are they designed to leverage the power of cloud computing or are we just trying to architect hardware to overcome software limitations?” One of my favorite quotes that I have heard is:
“You can’t hardware yourself out of a problem that you softwared yourself into.”
In this same vein, I always felt that we needed to start these discussions more strategically at the app layer and discuss this, at the very least, in parallel to infrastructure. Much of the power of cloud adoption comes from the ability of an organization to leverage PaaS and SaaS as part of their ongoing IT operations transformations. They also need to have more strategic discussions around how they will manage their application environment once they move into cloud services; both internally and externally.
In my new role my focus is now to have these strategic discussions with large enterprise customers and help provide a roadmap for how they can start transforming their IT operations to get them best prepared for the future of cloud computing. The most enjoyment I have had thus far was getting up to speed on the vFabric family of products and services that VMware is currently offering and will be offering in the future. What is amazing to me is how much of the story is actively available today and I definitely do not feel that the industry even has a good grasp (as a whole) of what VMware’s current capabilities and future capabilities are/will be. What VMware has put together is an entire framework for developing applications and for deploying them into both internal and external cloud infrastructures and then provided a way to monitor and manage them holistically. You can learn more about the framework here: http://www.vmware.com/products/vfabric/overview.html
I could do entire posts on each component of the vFabric platform, but the theme of this post is not so much about the technologies themselves, but the fact that most VMware customers are focused on only 2 of the 3 layers of VMware’s solution sets. Many of you are familiar with these, but to restate, VMware has a cloud vision in 3 major layers: 1) End User Computing (DaaS), 2) Cloud Infrastructure and Management (IaaS), and 3) Cloud Application Platform (PaaS). In my humble opinion, from my industry experience most companies are already well along the adoption curve of IaaS and overall infrastructure virtualization, they are starting to look pretty heavily at end user computing, but they have not even started to look at how to change the application layer of their environment. Most organizations have not strategically assessed the impact they could make on their environment by looking there first, rather than as an afterthought. In my mind, it seems logical that we should start there by understanding application interdependencies, change elements, and business impact of each before we would try to architect infrastructure or end user connectivity. I know there are significant political implications of this at most organizations but as with everything cloud, you have to tear down the isolation and work together to effectively drive efficiencies within an organization or you cannot be successful.
And remember… to the business…it is now, and always has been… all about the apps.