Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Xenia von Wedel, Scott Sobhani

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Agile Computing, @BigDataExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Two Digital Transformation Time Bombs

Hire a Chief Digital Officer to don the pirate gear, raise the Jolly Roger, and take your ship on an adventure

Adjectives like "swashbuckling" and "romantic" rarely if ever apply to enterprise technology, so the fact that "rogue" IT is now a Thing should give one pause. Errol Flynn swooping down from a yardarm, disarming smile on his too-handsome face? Hardly the image you'd expect bringing your iPhone to work would elicit.

Yet rogues there be, sneaking digital contraband into their cubicle, unbeknownst to IT Big Brother. And while we all like to bend the rules, if only to shake up our Dilbertian existence with a fleeting moment of swashbucklery, rogue IT goes far beyond your secret Angry Birds at work addiction, or dare we say, that contraband DropBox account your entire team surreptitiously shares.

Rogues, after all, come in all shapes and sizes. When the rank and file practice a bit of derring do, it's one thing. When Big Brothers themselves - the executives who steer the ship - practice rogue IT, it's quite another. Yet this top-down scalawagness pervades enterprises far and wide, threatening to upend the IT ship altogether, CIO and all. The name of this nefarious ne'er-do-well? Your Digital Transformation Strategy.

Digital Transformation: A Rogue's Gallery
Imagine, if you will, you've been working your way up the officer's ranks of your vessel, and now you're the captain (or other C-level executive) of this ship you call your enterprise. Information Technology has always been a powerful asset in your treasure chest, from the early data processing days to the rise of monolithic enterprise apps. Then the Web and its evil twin Y2K hit, knocking you and your ship for a loop, promising a New Economy yet delivering a dot.com crash. After that perfect storm you told yourself you'd never again fall for the empty promises of the new technology sirens, singing their songs of business transformation but delivering only broken dreams.

Yet here we are, in the 2010s, and the siren song of new technology is louder than ever - and this time, there are far more voices in this craven chorus: Cloud Computing! Big Data! Social Media! Mobile Apps! DevOps! Added to this cacophony are the digital denizens of this new era, the Googles and the Amazons and the Netflixes, no longer mere dot.com darlings, but massive behemoths out to take a piece of everyone's pie, including yours. This time, sitting on the sidelines is not an option. Siren song or no, the world of business is changing, and your enterprise must change as well, or risk the deadly depths of the Charybdis of digital disruption and irrelevance.

But then you wake up from this reverie and look once again at the cold, hard reality of budgets and balance sheets, and you realize your IT department has their hands full with dull, dreary, yet absolutely essential legacy systems of record - all those numerous apps and infrastructure that have been collecting over the decades, sucking up money, yes, but keeping you in business all the while. Disruptive innovation is all very fine and good, but legacy technology and disruption don't mix. That old gear is just too brittle and important to mess with, right?

That's when it hits you: it's time to go rogue. Your IT department has way too much on its plate to handle the digital transformation you crave so desperately. So instead of asking your CIO to drive these new initiatives, you hire a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) to don the pirate gear, raise the Jolly Roger, and take your ship on an adventure into the wondrous digital future.

Hear that Ticking? Beware the Digital Disruption Time Bombs
We all know that genuine pirates and other such rogues are ruthless criminals, and yet a century of Hollywood mythmaking has turned them into heroes, courageous nonconformists who can justify their questionable deeds because of the presumably greater evil of the establishment from which they have rebelled. Today, we consider CDOs and their digital transformation initiatives to be examples of rogue IT - bucking the establishment, true, but with the best interests of the enterprise at heart. Motivation enough to forgive a bit of swashbuckling, perhaps?

After all, the legacy technology that runs the established portion of the business has a history of intractability. Legacy modernization has a reputation as being expensive, risky, and often lacking clear business drivers. And when we tried to abstract our legacy as flexible Services with the last decade's SOA initiatives, we found that architectural approach to be more expensive and difficult than we expected. Most SOA initiatives overpromised and underdelivered, leaving CDOs with few options but to go rogue and build digital initiatives largely separate from establishment IT.

Errol Flynn and his modern counterpart Johnny Depp notwithstanding, is it truly in the long-term best interest of the company for the CDO to go rogue? In the short term, absolutely. The technology buzzwords du jour aren't holding still, and moving quickly is essential to successful digital transformation. And if there's one thing traditional IT is bad at, it's moving quickly. Yet, while Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow has yet to meet his maker at the end of a rope, enterprises who place strategic bets on rogue IT risk two major time bombs going off in their face.

Time bomb #1: thinking that you can achieve the benefits of digital transformation without dealing with the legacy mess. It's tempting indeed to leave the established order behind. Many organizations think of their legacy IT as a single Gordian knot of complexity, where the only way to fix it is to somehow fix or replace the whole thing - an impossible task that would never come close to justifying its expense. The pirate's life sounds wondrous in comparison.

But remember, legacy is not monolithic. It's heterogeneous and multifaceted, and you don't have to fix the whole thing. Your core business agility drivers from transformation initiatives must connect to specific legacy goals while moving legacy toward agility, not away from it. Yes, you must pick your battles, as the legacy you do bring into your digital initiative will take time and money to fix - but never forget that your enterprise wouldn't be where it is today if it weren't for the best of your legacy.

The challenges with legacy modernization in support of digital transformation are first, to tackle the right problems, and second, to take an approach that will actually work. After all, such fixes require both the appropriate abstraction as well as technology that can support those abstractions. Not SOA - or at the least, not only SOA, but one big step above SOA. For specific legacy capabilities to properly support the digital transformation, we need a better approach for abstracting legacy assets to drive agility, an architectural approach freed from middleware and laser focused on the business agility drivers from the digital transformation initiative.

Even if you think you can avoid time bomb #1, however, you must also navigate your way past time bomb #2: Realizing you have to do something about the legacy mess, but thinking there's a shortcut. Examples of such shortcuts: migrating legacy apps to the Cloud, feeding existing data into Hadoop without a strategy for collecting new information, or perhaps building mobile app interfaces onto aging Web apps that were never designed to support them. True, you may be able to get any of these examples to work, but you'll have missed the point of digital transformation initiatives: they're not about the digital, they're about the transformation. After all, your entire legacy IT shop is already digital. Transformation requires entirely new approaches, not shortcuts.

The Intellyx Take
Perhaps you're not convinced by my scintillating, scoundrel-infused diatribe. Your digital transformation initiative is doing just fine on its own, thank you very much, while IT keeps the legacy lights on, and never the twain shall meet. Sorry to shiver your timbers, but you're not alone in your market. Your competition also struggles with their legacy burden, and the spoils will go to those enterprises who successfully deal with their legacy as part of their digital transformation. If you don't get this right, then your competition will, and no amount of derring-do will save your digital transformation initiative then.

The good news for some organizations is that if you have been successful with SOA you're ahead of the game (and I know there are a few of you out there who actually got SOA to work). But regardless of whether SOA paid off for you or not, to meet your strategic goals with your digital transformation initiative, you must follow a well-architected approach that both understands and connects the business drivers for digital transformation to specific, tactical legacy initiatives.

Remember, transformation drivers are always business agility drivers, which means Agile Architecture is absolutely essential to digital transformation success: an iterative, dynamic approach that focuses on solving problems instead of paperwork, an approach that incorporates regular input from stakeholders - in other words, architecture that is inherently Agile. Going rogue may be fun, but it's high time for your CDO and CIO to work together - or even be the same person. Errol Flynn would be proud.

Image credit: Pascal

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@CloudExpo Stories
What does it look like when you have access to cloud infrastructure and platform under the same roof? Let’s talk about the different layers of Technology as a Service: who cares, what runs where, and how does it all fit together. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Lead Technology Evangelist at SoftLayer, an IBM company, spoke about the picture being painted by IBM Cloud and how the tools being crafted can help fill the gaps in your IT infrastructure.
SaaS companies can greatly expand revenue potential by pushing beyond their own borders. The challenge is how to do this without degrading service quality. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Adam Rogers, Managing Director at Anexia, discussed how IaaS providers with a global presence and both virtual and dedicated infrastructure can help companies expand their service footprint with low “go-to-market” costs.
You are moving to the Cloud. The question is not if, it’s when. Now that your competitors are in the cloud and lapping you, your “when” better hurry up and get here. But saying and doing are two different things. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Robert Reeves, CTO of Datical, explained how DevOps can be your onramp to the cloud. By adopting simple, platform independent DevOps strategies, you can accelerate your move to the cloud. Spoiler Alert: He also makes sure you don’t...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Creating replica copies to tolerate a certain number of failures is easy, but very expensive at cloud-scale. Conventional RAID has lower overhead, but it is limited in the number of failures it can tolerate. And the management is like herding cats (overseeing capacity, rebuilds, migrations, and degraded performance). Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing for the HGST Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit, discusse...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
"SpeedyCloud's specialty lies in providing cloud services - we provide IaaS for Internet and enterprises companies," explained Hao Yu, CEO and co-founder of SpeedyCloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change t...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
The initial debate is over: Any enterprise with a serious commitment to IT is migrating to the cloud. But things are not so simple. There is a complex mix of on-premises, colocated, and public-cloud deployments. In this power panel at 18th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Partnerships at Commvault; Dave Landa, Chief Operating Officer at kintone; William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interou...
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
The pace of innovation, vendor lock-in, production sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and managing risk… In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dan Choquette, Founder of RackN, discussed how CIOs are challenged finding the balance of finding the right tools, technology and operational model that serves the business the best. He also discussed how clouds, open source software and infrastructure solutions have benefits but also drawbacks and how workload and operational portability between vendors ...