Having considered the Right Cloud for the Right Reasons (see the earlier post in this blog) and having weighed up the short-, mid- and long-term business needs of your organisation and reviewed all the business process change that is going to be needed you are still faced with the fact that One Cloud (cloud offering/service/function) will not meet all your needs.

Cloud when addressed from the Business needs down, as opposed to the IT and technology drivers upwards, we realise that all applications are not created equal and work in sometimes completely different ways. There will be a number of things to consider for any application stack or service:

  • Performance needs including scale-up and scale-down,
  • Interdependencies with other services,
  • Support in cloud/virtualised environments,
  • Compliance and Regulatory requirements,
  • Governance and Risk controls,
  • Security and Data encryption/obfuscation needs.

That list is not exhaustive but thinking about each service or application and its needs in each of the above areas will drive you to select cloud services that meet the application profile. Remember that one of the main objectives for many customers is to deliver business agility in the most cost effective way.

There are many situations that will direct your cloud choice whether that be to use on- or off-premise cloud, to use a cloud that provides the maximum scalability with minimal cost, or a cloud that meets the regulatory mandates whilst demonstrating compliance to regulatory bodies.

Anyone considering cloud services, either for new projects or as a more cost effective replacement for current infrastructure services that are reaching end-of-life, needs support in analysing these different requirements and undertaking a Cloud Readiness Assessment from a suitable independent technology services company should be the first place to start.

A recently announced update by the regulators has confirmed that public cloud services as provided by Amazon Web Services (AWS) is suitable for banking:

Computer weekly: Dutch banking regulator approves AWS

This is great news for many other European financial institutions. It shows that even with the stringent regulations around financial operations you can use an “off-premise” cloud and still have a secure environment.

Security has not been an issue for some time. Public/off-premise Cloud services like AWS have been able to provide the security needed but it has been the compliance to regulations that has been challenging.

So with banking, governments, security organisations, manufacturing, energy & utilities, as well as global media and telecommunications using cloud services it should be clear to all except the most stubborn that cloud has matured and is the way forward offering flexibility and cost efficiency to all types of business.

 

Ok, so I have not updated this blog in some time.

I first had to fix a “cannot connect to database” error first then everything was back to normal. Except my theme which was messing about with the title. So I chose new WordPress Twenty-thirteen them which I will now customise lots.

When I originally installed WordPress on my Ubuntu Linux system I did it via apt-get. This installed the 3.3.1 but disabled all future core updates. So I had to do a manual update. However the files are not in the usual places so I had a bit more work to do.

However it all worked, there was a bit of faffing with directory permissions and ownership, and the site is good. The DB update worked without a hitch which was just as well as I backed up the wrong DB!

 

The answer for me is going to be no.

“No to what?” I hear you cry? No to the new iPad (or iPad 4).

I bought my iPad by pre-order on the day it was released. I waited patiently through two generations of iPad before parting with my cash. The iPad 3 (or new iPad, but not so new now) was a big step up. Faster with the retina display etc. I was still on an iPhone 3Gs at the time and the iPad felt like rocket speed compared to the slothful scooter speed of the 3Gs.

What has Apple done for iPad 4? Added a better processor (one enhanced a bit from the iPhone 5) and added a lightning connector. The front facing camera is now HD.

That’s it. Nothing else.

Being an apple user as opposed to an apple fan-boy means that I do not need to upgrade for these minor differences. My iPad works fine. If I chose to upgrade then the current trade in costs mean I would have lost £200 of value since I bought it in these last 6 months. It’s just not worth it.

The iPad mini does look tempting though…. [Nah, not going to happen either…]

Thinking about cloud (CloudThink) involves less about IT but more around what you are looking to achieve with it. What is your business strategy? Where are you in your business maturity model? What problems do you think cloud will solve?

To that end I created the following graphic to illustrate the problem:

Right Cloud, Right ReasonsThe worst scenario is “Wrong Cloud, Wrong Reason” which is where the business leadership does not know what it wants but knows it should think about cloud and gets IT to implement something to appear to be achieving. Without having answers to the questions I posed earlier how is the business  ever going to pick the right cloud solution?

The second worst position is “Wrong Cloud, Right Reason” which is typically the misselling of a solution by a service vendor who is not able or willing to look at all the cloud options that are available to meet the needs of the business. A provider who only offers IaaS or one who only has one flavour of a BPaaS ERP solution is not going to give you the strategic and wider reaching cloud solution.

The least likely, but still possible, is the “Right Cloud, Wrong Reason” scenario. Consider that you thought through your business needs for this budgetary year and you had delivered a cloud solution that met that need. You delivered the right cloud. Were your reasons complete? Considering the three-, four- or even five-year needs for your business rather than point solutions in the short term means that you select the right cloud and use it to its fullest. Wrong reasons, even with the right cloud solution, lead to poorer ROI and higher TCO.

To achieve the “Right Cloud, Right Reasons” ultimate scenario requires a sound understanding of your business goals and a well defined strategy of where you want to be and when you want to get there. Not every business application is likely to be suitable for delivery in the cloud. What is key, required and possible all need to be defined and the impact of change, risk, security, resiliency and availability need to be understood before undertaking the move to cloud.

Central to all of this is the need to have CxO level sponsorship. What IT departments think they should be delivering may not tie up with where the leadership is thinking the business needs to go. Cloud is a top down business decision and the key decision makers in an organisation need to lead and drive the cloud strategy to ensure that it delivers on its promise.

Cloud is here and it works. The choices are wide and varied and each has different business  targets. Only when you undertake the right cloud thinking do you reap the rewards.

“CloudThink – To think correctly about cloud and cloud issues.”

I’ve been discussing cloud with various people over the last few days and I’ve come to the realisation that people think about cloud in the wrong way. [“ungoodcloudthinkers”]

Most people tend to think first about the technology involved with cloud. If one is to correctly sell the cloud proposition [“cloudthinkwise”] then you must consider the “why?” first. Cloud is there to solve a business problem or be a possible solution to various business questions:

  • What business problem do I have that I’d like to fix? IT inflexibility, slow to implement new applications, reduce datacentre utilisation, reduce costs.
  • How can I be more efficient with my IT spend, utilisation and management?
  • How can I grow quickly to meet new business demands?

“Cloudthinking” addresses these questions first as understanding the answers provides the drivers to sufficiently support the change and transformation to cloud. Cloud and cloud implementations, for the existing customer, are a change to the status quo. If done for the right reasons the benefits are measureable and consistent and CxO levels can see tangible results. Cloud for the new customer, with no DC to put servers and applications in, should be a first consideration.

Once the why is considered, understood and agreed then it is time to consider the technology or type of cloud that will deliver these business needs in the best way; the options are numerous:

  • Private Cloud (in customer DC).
  • Hosted-Private Cloud (in a vendor DC).
  • Public Cloud (in a cloud provider’s DC, Amazon Web Services (AWS) are the leaders here).
  • Virtual Private Cloud (a customer dedicated chunk of a cloud provider’s Public Cloud infrastructure).
  • Hybrid Cloud (any mix of the above).
  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service which is typically the above).
  • PaaS (Platform as a Service which is IaaS with additional application stacks added).
  • SaaS (Software as a Service which is just access to the software functionality without the ownership and maintenance of the HW or SW, eg. SalesForce.com).
  • BPaaS (Business Process as a service HR, ERP, CRM etc.).
  • WaaS (Workplace as a Service. A new way of thinking about desktop services).

With all these cloud options to choose from, with all their implications of how, what and why, selecting the right choice needs “goodcloudthinking”. My job is to work “cloudthinkful” with our customers and help them develop “cloudthinkwise” towards their business.

This is something that is never, ever 100% like your pay slip. Or at least never for me.

The rules and process is simple but why does it never match?

  • Take your Gross Pay (I’m paid monthly).
  • Take off your allowance(s): Personal allowance £8105 (/12 as its per month remember)
  • Calculate 20% of what income is £34370 or below (/12 as its per month)
  • Calculate 40% of the income above £34370 (/12 as its per month)
  • Calculate 50% of the income above £150,000 – Yeah right! This does not apply to me. Yet. (I can dream right?)
  • Calculate NI or use the NI calculator on the HMRC website.
  • Take all these deductions off the Gross and you have your Net Pay.
  • If you have pension contributions that are salary sacrifice then this comes off the Gross Pay before you calculate the tax. NI is always calculated on Gross Pay.

Or at least that’s the way it is supposed to go. The NI contribution on my (now electronic) payslip is always £3 or so below the calculated NIC from HMRC’s website. The total income tax is always out usually some £’s either way.

Even when using the HMRC Tax calculator or the Listen To Taxman calculator there are discrepancies. Just defeats me every time. I even have a spreadsheet with all these formulae encoded and it matches, nearly, most of these tools but never all of them and never my actual pay packet.  It’s close as not to worry but annoying just the same.

Do you think this is a deliberate ploy so that the HMRC has something to do at the end of the tax year? If all this worked first time and the government got their money what else would the tax man have to do all year?

Add to all this that when I changed jobs recently my P45 was late which means my first new  pay packet was only taxed with a temporary code and at 20% so that this month I copped a double load of tax as the company payroll accountants corrected this error in one lump. [Sometimes they change the tax code to take it back over the year. Not this time however.]

Those of you still awake after this little post may wish to comment to me on twitter (@jmfthevci) if you too have a differential payslip?

This photograph shows the choir in action singing a piece by Rodrigo. Every member of the choir can be seen and musical director, David Crown, is in wavy-hands action-styley. Excellent.

RPC al la Rodrigo

RPC al la Rodrigo (courtesy of Didier Garcon)

A thank you to Didier Garçon for this photograph.

This weekend the Reading Phoenix Choir completed their new CD recording session. Friday evening, all-day Saturday and all-day Sunday. An exhausting schedule singing some very tricky music.

The, as yet un-named, album will feature items from Barber, Debussy, Holst, Elgar, Rodrigo, and Strauss. The theme is contrasting songs written by these composers for choirs and music written by these composers arranged for choirs. There is some superb music here and it will be a great CD. We are also looking to have it available for purchase and download online.

Here is a photograph taken in the secret recording dungeon of the choir. Or rather the choir taking a break.

Recording Dungeon

Reading Phoenix takes a break from the Secret Recording Dungeon.