Click here to close now.


@CloudExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Jason Bloomberg, Elizabeth White, SmartBear Blog, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Open Source Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Microservices Expo: Article

Hey IT! Get with the Program: Make Operations a Strategic Weapon

Don’t start your battle without preparation

Too often, Information Technology leadership lives in its own world, far removed from business decision-making. This can result in IT being an easy target for blame. If everything goes well, IT is a high-spend cost center. If things go poorly, then IT isn't doing its job. Non-strategic IT departments are too often seen as the bad guys-They are an obstacle, a process-loving bureaucratic group that slows everything down...Other departments must find a way around IT in order to launch those pet projects quickly. Now you, the CIO, are caught in a downward spiral, spending more time fighting political battles, less time addressing your organization's immediate tech needs and zero time planning for the future. The IT Ops team is in a constant scramble to keep up, overburdened with administrivia and maintaining uptime. In this bleak picture, IT isn't exactly a potent weapon in the battle for innovation.

The solution? Get proactive!
Today's CIO must intrinsically understand the ins and outs of business strategy, and he or she must be fundamentally involved in crafting business strategy. The CIO is the IT org's commanding general, and if the general's not on the battlefield, the battle won't be won. Get aware of upcoming initiatives and anticipate how IT can impact them. Start by prioritizing strategies:

  1. Innovation: What new organizational capabilities can IT enable and drive?
  2. Velocity: How quickly can a new technology project be executed?
  3. Cost/ROI: How much is a project going to cost and how much is it going to save?
  4. Governance/Control: Are all organizational and legal requirements being met?

Identified your strategies? Good start. But you need more than just top-of-mind strategies to truly make your IT operation a strategic weapon. It's time to deliver on their promise.

Clear the battlefield...or at least your schedule
First, eliminate what you can so you'll have the capacity to work on what's truly important. Your work may well be controlled by various governance mandates, but if you can offload some core work and free up personnel and hardware resources, do it.

Second, investigate Software as a Service (SaaS) as a way to reduce overhead and maintenance expenses. SaaS can make good business sense for any size project: Email, HR-management systems, project management, content delivery, source code repositories, IT help desk, bug-tracking software, and test case management are all examples of services that could potentially be migrated to a SaaS vendor. Ask four questions when considering SaaS:

  1. Is this function core to my organization's mission? (E.g., Is my company in the business of running an email system, or are we simply required to have an email service?)
  2. Are there governance or regulatory reasons why I can't outsource?
  3. Does a suitable SaaS application exist?
  4. What is the risk to the organization if this application is temporarily unavailable for whatever reason?
  5. What's the ROI, factoring in personnel and hardware resource savings?

Audit usage of the existing services IT offers to the organization, both in terms of how often those services are accessed and your cost of keeping them running.

Third, reevaluate all in-progress projects with their respective business owners. You may be surprised to learn that some projects can be halted completely, others can be scaled back, and some should be revisited (to attack the scourge of outdated requirements).

Get your army in the (private) cloud
Find the resources to create a private cloud infrastructure. Consolidating your servers into a cloud will allow you take maximum advantage of the resources at your disposal. You'll no longer need to worry about provisioning each server independently with its own OS and middleware, or whether any one specific server is being under- or over-utilized. (Several research studies note that enterprises tend to be unaware of under-utilized server capacity, and/or unable to take advantage of it.) Your cloud will help ensure that you always have the required infrastructure available to deploy a new application when required.

And why a private cloud? If your organization must adhere to strict government regulatory data requirements, the private-vs.-public battle may already be decided. A private cloud ensures that you retain complete control over resources and data. As CIO, you are ultimately responsible for your organization's digital assets, and it makes sense to retain as much control over that data as is possible within your own security policies and parameters.

Get started: Repurpose some of your in-house servers into an on-site private cloud. There are a wide variety of private-cloud technologies (both commercial and open source) to choose from, and plenty of easily accessible consultants who can help you. Yes, you'll see upfront expense, but the long-term benefits will outweigh the short-term costs. Or, consider a simpler alternative: hosted private cloud.

Arm the troops with a polyglot private PaaS
Once your cloud infrastructure is in place, deploy a polyglot Platform as a Service (PaaS). Think of PaaS as an automated middleware layer that abstracts underlying infrastructure management needs away from your IT management, delivers the middleware layer your applications require, and allows your development team to deploy new applications (or update existing ones) without involving IT.

A so-called "polyglot" PaaS handles multiple languages and frameworks. There are many single-language PaaS solutions, but if your organization develops in more than one language, you'd need to deploy a single-language PaaS platform for each language. That burdensome approach sustains your language silos, and multiplies overhead work. You're better off selecting a polyglot PaaS in the first place—one that accommodates the languages (Java, .NET, Ruby, PHP, Python, Perl, etc.) in which your developers code.

Future-proof your forces and choose an extensible private PaaS. As your resource skillset evolves to support your business growth, you'll need to accommodate new languages and frameworks.

Test locally, deploy globally: A good PaaS will enable production testing on local clients. Developers will know if their apps will run in the corporate cloud because they've already tested them in a simulated production environment.

Good private PaaS auto-scales and auto-configures, and your IT team monitors everything. It facilitates deployment handoffs, and shaves time off deployment process, freeing both devs and IT to focus on strategic innovation instead of paperwork, rework, and finger pointing.

Capture the flag...wisely
Don't start your battle without preparation. As you deploy private PaaS, you must measure, tweak, and improve. But private PaaS on private cloud will make IT agile enough to win your organization's IT battles. You'll spend more time innovating, and less time configuring, managing, and worrying about infrastructure. And that makes IT a potent strategic weapon for your organization.

More Stories By Brent Smithurst

Brent Smithurst is ActiveState's Director of Product Management and he thinks about Stackato 24x7. Prior to joining ActiveState, he held leadership positions in software product management, IT, operations, and marketing for organizations in security/computer management, motion picture/television, food services, and hardware retail/online industries.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@CloudExpo Stories
The enterprise is being consumerized, and the consumer is being enterprised. Moore's Law does not matter anymore, the future belongs to business virtualization powered by invisible service architecture, powered by hyperscale and hyperconvergence, and facilitated by vertical streaming and horizontal scaling and consolidation. Both buyers and sellers want instant results, and from paperwork to paperless to mindless is the ultimate goal for any seamless transaction. The sweetest sweet spot in innov...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Key Information Systems, Inc. (KeyInfo), a leading cloud and infrastructure provider offering integrated solutions to enterprises, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Key Information Systems is a leading regional systems integrator with world-class compute, storage and networking solutions and professional services for the most advanced softwa...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps and Continuous Delivery software provider XebiaLabs has announced it has been selected to join the Amazon Web Services (AWS) DevOps Competency partner program. The program is designed to highlight software vendors like XebiaLabs who have demonstrated technical expertise and proven customer success in DevOps and specialized solution areas like Continuous Delivery. DevOps Competency Partners provide solutions to, or have deep experience working with AWS users and other businesses to help t...
The modern software development landscape consists of best practices and tools that allow teams to deliver software in a near-continuous manner. By adopting a culture of automation, measurement and sharing, the time to ship code has been greatly reduced, allowing for shorter release cycles and quicker feedback from customers and users. Still, with all of these tools and methods, how can teams stay on top of what is taking place across their infrastructure and codebase? Hopping between services a...
Containers are changing the security landscape for software development and deployment. As with any security solutions, security approaches that work for developers, operations personnel and security professionals is a requirement. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, Kevin Gilpin, CTO and Co-Founder of Conjur, will discuss various security considerations for container-based infrastructure and related DevOps workflows.
Enterprises can achieve rigorous IT security as well as improved DevOps practices and Cloud economics by taking a new, cloud-native approach to application delivery. Because the attack surface for cloud applications is dramatically different than for highly controlled data centers, a disciplined and multi-layered approach that spans all of your processes, staff, vendors and technologies is required. This may sound expensive and time consuming to achieve as you plan how to move selected applicati...
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
The cloud has reached mainstream IT. Those 18.7 million data centers out there (server closets to corporate data centers to colocation deployments) are moving to the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Achim Weiss, CEO & co-founder of ProfitBricks, will share how two companies – one in the U.S. and one in Germany – are achieving their goals with cloud infrastructure. More than a case study, he will share the details of how they prioritized their cloud computing infrastructure deployments ...
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete en...
Data loss happens, even in the cloud. In fact, if your company has adopted a cloud application in the past three years, data loss has probably happened, whether you know it or not. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bryan Forrester, Senior Vice President of Sales at eFolder, will present how common and costly cloud application data loss is and what measures you can take to protect your organization from data loss.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet condit...
Between the compelling mockups and specs produced by analysts, and resulting applications built by developers, there exists a gulf where projects fail, costs spiral, and applications disappoint. Methodologies like Agile attempt to address this with intensified communication, with partial success but many limitations. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, will present a revolutionary model enabled by new technologies. Learn how busine...
Interested in leveraging automation technologies and a cloud architecture to make developers more productive? Learn how PaaS can benefit your organization to help you streamline your application development, allow you to use existing infrastructure and improve operational efficiencies. Begin charting your path to PaaS with OpenShift Enterprise.
Achim Weiss is Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of ProfitBricks. In 1995, he broke off his studies to co-found the web hosting company "Schlund+Partner." The company "Schlund+Partner" later became the 1&1 web hosting product line. From 1995 to 2008, he was the technical director for several important projects: the largest web hosting platform in the world, the second largest DSL platform, a video on-demand delivery network, the largest eMail backend in Europe, and a universal billing syste...
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and Containers together help companies to achieve their business goals faster and more effectively.
Containers are revolutionizing the way we deploy and maintain our infrastructures, but monitoring and troubleshooting in a containerized environment can still be painful and impractical. Understanding even basic resource usage is difficult - let alone tracking network connections or malicious activity. In his session at DevOps Summit, Gianluca Borello, Sr. Software Engineer at Sysdig, will cover the current state of the art for container monitoring and visibility, including pros / cons and li...
As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ability. Many are unable to effectively engage and inspire, creating forward momentum in the direction of desired change. Renowned for its approach to leadership and emphasis on their people, organizations increasingly look to our military for insight into these challenges.
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driv...
There are many considerations when moving applications from on-premise to cloud. It is critical to understand the benefits and also challenges of this migration. A successful migration will result in lower Total Cost of Ownership, yet offer the same or higher level of robustness. Migration to cloud shifts computing resources from your data center, which can yield significant advantages provided that the cloud vendor an offer enterprise-grade quality for your application.