Cloud and Bimodal IT

Most people are doing some form of cloud computing already, from email to application hosting.  A growing number of people are learning about and looking to adopt a Bimodal IT design.

So what is Bimodal IT?  Well, as Gartner would put it, Bimodal IT consists of two Modes.  Mode 1 is the classic legacy IT that provides stability… This is traditionally on premise hardware which is tried and trusted.  Mode 2 is new IT providing speed and agility… This is best described as cloud computing, where you have the ability to grow resources rapidly if required.

The key things to understand with Bimodal IT is that Mode 1 can provide speed and agility, and Mode 2 can provide stability.

So Bimodal IT tends to align itself with a hybrid data centre environment, providing stability (mode 1) from the existing infrastructure whilst also extending out to cloud vendors allowing for speed and agility (mode 2).

When looking at a lot of the cloud vendors, there are a number of things that they are doing right, there are some things that they are doing wrong (in my opinion) but they also highlight areas that normal business gets wrong as well.

I’ve been working with some of the cloud vendors recently and here are some of my tips with regards to cloud usage in general(I’m staying impartial and therefore won’t be mentioning vendor names):

  • Do not look to move all items to the cloud – at least not initially, small steps will yield more results
  • Do not look to cloud as a cost saving exercise – cloud may not prove to save money, but it does provide the flexibility 
  • Do not look to just move systems as they are across to cloud hosted systems – this is very inefficient and may cost you more long term
  • Think carefully about what you want hosting in a cloud environment – not all workloads are suited to cloud
  • Do not just build virtual machines for everything in the cloud – think more dynamically, if you want to have a database in the cloud, just put a database in the cloud, do not place a whole VM in the cloud to host the database – this will help to save money and provide more agility 
  • Are you a 24/7 company? If you aren’t, then consider shutting down VMs and systems during hours when the company is not working – this helps to save money and can be automated
  • Don’t be stuck in your ways – embrace a new way to do things
  • Be willing to adjust your processes rather than changing software to meet your processes – flexibility and agility can come from the capability to upgrade to new software versions rapidly to take advantage of new features, if the software has been customised then this process takes longer and costs more money
  • Don’t forget your staff – your staff are what can make or break a cloud project and company, don’t look at cloud to reduce head count, invest in your staff to allow them to make the company more agile
  • Don’t limit yourself to a single cloud vendor – different cloud vendors have different advantages and utilising multiple vendors could provide more benefits
  • Look to predefined services rather than migrating systems – there are many companies providing cloud services for things like payroll etc, these types of services reduce the specialised knowledge required on site, allowing the business to become more agile.
  • Remember backups and DR – many companies think that the normal processes in the cloud will provide them backup and DR capabilities, unfortunately this is often not the case.  When discussing cloud solutions, think about and discuss the backups that will take place and discuss the DR capabilities
  • Don’t forget governance – if your company is located across multiple countries, investigate the individual governance requirements for each country, as this may have a relevance to where data can reside and the facilities provided by cloud vendors in those countries

This list looks quite long and quite scary in places but these are only guidelines to try to help companies think about cloud in a more realistic way.

Any comments or thoughts are always welcome.

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