Recently, Forbes published an article on cloud computing, its popularity, and whether it is ready for prime time. While the cloud infrastructure and application markets are currently sized at $33B and $106B, respectively, and are continuing to grow, “[a] new report from HfS Research concludes that even the largest, most IT-savvy enterprises are still struggling to realize the value of As-a-Service platforms.”
Here are the biggest factors cited in the article, according to top executives:
What is the impact of this? Seventy-one percent (71%) of large enterprises believe that realization of cloud services is at least five years out, possibly longer. Two percent (2%) believe they have reached a point where cloud is core to their business, ongoing strategy, and operations. I believe the numbers are at risk of being both over reported and under reported, depending upon the organization.
There is a potential for the number to be over reported by senior leaders due to multiple reasons. Lack of usage visibility and lack of understanding what cloud is, are the most prevalent. While hopefully rare, there may also be the perceived risk of irrelevance if the senior leadership and IT staff lack a cloud strategy. Thus, inflation of the numbers is a possibility.
It runs the chance of being under reported due to both IT and non-IT employees utilizing cloud providers. This often occurs outside of IT governance and oversight. In May 2014, Avanade, the joint Accenture and Microsoft consulting firm, conducted a survey of IT managers and found that 66% have seen the challenge of employee provisioned cloud services. Once again, this reflects the overall lack of visibility.
For these reasons and due to our core competencies, Contegix has always approached the market with a vision of responsibility. We need to build confidence in the cloud model. We strive to do this for our customers, partners, and even our industry peers.
First and foremost, we approach every customer by understanding their individual business needs and requirements. This is irrespective of their size, level of management required, and technical aptitude. Our conversations with prospects are focused on what will deliver value, move their organization forward, and provide a path forward for the business and its IT needs. As such, we view our role as both supplementing and complementing in order to allow corporate IT to focus on the strategic deliverables.
For many, this means delivering private and/or hybrid clouds designed to meet their current requirements. For others, it’s focused on delivering management of a specific application. Regardless, it means integrating with their current infrastructure and IT teams. This necessitates a mutual education between our customers and Contegix.
Finally, we help customers get visibility into their Contegix cloud environment by delivering industry leading metric collection and reporting. For a number of customers, this has led us to build even more capabilities that are specific to their needs.
It has been amazing to see customers’ IT staff (sys admins, engineers, and developers) move beyond infrastructure to focus on core business. That should be the full power of delivering the cloud. Yet, there is still work to do. The article sums it up best with the following statement – “the journey has only just begun and, frankly, there are some who have yet to realize that there is a journey to take.”
Compuware recently commissioned a survey of 468 CIOs. The report, published by Research In Action, showed that nearly 2/3 of respondents named cloud as their top priority. The most interesting and hopeful aspect of this report is that we are finally starting to see real analysis of the topic. It is being applied to determine the true ROI of cloud computing. This is reflected in the focus on cost where cost is more than subscription fees and staff training.
Here are some of the key CIO concerns from the Forbes survey:
- Poor end user experience due to performance bottlenecks (64 percent). This goes right to the customer end-user experience as well, since e-commerce is the leading cloud application area, the survey finds – 78 percent of respondents are already using cloud resources to support e-commerce.
- The impact of poor performance on brand perception and customer loyalty (51 percent).
- Loss of revenue due to poor availability, performance, or troubleshooting cloud services (44 percent).
- Increased costs of resolving problems in a more complex environment (35 percent).
- Increased effort required to manage vendors and service level agreements (23 percent).
CIOs are thinking about cloud and expressing challenges about its associated, impacting costs, such as user performance. It is evident that total costs are heavily (and rightfully) focused on the results. For cloud to continue to drive IT forward, this is what should be in focus for any IT decision, especially cloud. If a shopper leaves due to website performance or if internal resources are unable to rapidly help the prospect due to internal system availability, that potential customer may be lost to a competitor forever. That represents a real long term cost for the company.
There is no single approach to solving these concerns. Viewing the points, there is a common theme that sticks out – the cloud service provider. The right cloud service provider is aligned with the customer’s goals, including performance and availability. SLAs should match the customer’s needs rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. (The exception should be services such as network and power where 100% uptime can be expected.) Complexity of the environment should not even exist. Cloud service providers need to be focused on the “service” if we truly want to be involved in and share responsibility for aspects of business that impact livelihood.
The focus on costs and ROI are a good thing for the industry. More important, it’s good for the cloud consumer, specifically the businesses utilizing cloud to create greater agility and flexibility.
Download the full survey report here.
The past few years in Saint Louis have been interesting to watch. When Craig and I started the parent company of Contegix as a software development and managed hosting company, there were very few entrepreneurs doing anything here, especially in the tech industry.
In fact, Gabe Lozano from LockerDome and I were chatting about this a few weeks back. Gabe has built an amazing company that continues to excel and grow. He also comes from an entrepreneurial family. His father started Paylinx, a company later acquired by Cybersource, and Appistry, a big data company that started when no one knew what that meant. As Gabe recently put it to me, “There were guys like my dad starting companies from his generation. Then, the younger guys like me began starting companies a few years ago. But almost nothing in your generation .”
With this said, it’s been absolutely incredible to see the proliferation of tech entrepreneurs pop up. Some of them have already exited and gone on to other things. Just as important is that the entrepreneurs are from every generation – Gabe’s, mine, and older. Here are a few that I think are worth spotlighting:
Description:LockerDome is a person’s sports identity. LockerDome is the only platform where professional athletes publish their content side-by-side with kids. LockerDome developed the first universal identification system for tracking youth sports content. With a LockerDome ID, an athlete’s sports memories are accessible in one place, forever.
Recent News:LockerDome recently completed a $750k round in December 2011 and added Jim McKelvey to the Board in January 2012.
Description:Gremln is a premiere social media marketing toolkit designed to help businesses take control of their social media messages and measure the impact those messages are having on potential customers. Gremln allows users to post messages to their major social networks and tracks the amount of social engagement these messages attract. Gremln users can create quick and easy charts, graphs, and reports to monitor their social progress while maintaining brand integrity across various digital channels.
Recent News: Gremln recently completed Capital Innovators and was in a ReadWriteWeb article.
Bonfyre / OffCampus Media (http://bonfyreapp.com):
Description:Bonfyre is a geo-location app and social media network strictly for college students. Users can only register with a valid school email address from an approved university.
Comment:One of the things I LOVE about Bonfyre is that it allows college students to socialize online without their parents or future employer sniffing around. We like enough to invest in it.
Recent News: Bonfyre raised $750k in capital funding. Newest version released this month.
Description:Aisle411 is a smartphone app that allows users to navigate inside stores and guides them to the exact location of a product. For example, a user can enter a grocery list and get a map that takes them to all of the products on the list in the most efficient way.
Recent News: Has raised over $5.5M and recently opened a San Francisco office.
Description:NorseCorp is an emerging provider of innovative Internet security intelligence for all industry verticals. Via our patent-pending IPViking platform, NorseCorp provide real-time intelligence about the most dangerous IP addresses operating in the world at any given time.
Recent News: In April 2012, Norse released it’s nGate Payment Gateway – article.
Description:Before cloud was even a word printed anywhere except textbooks and meteorological reports, Slicehost was serving up cloud servers to hungry developers and startups. Created by Jason Seats and Matt Tanase, Slicehost was an early and strong player in this community. Slicehost was acquired by Rackspace around October 2008. I think it’s still worth mentioning Slicehost as they were part of this renaissance and change here.
Recent News: Matt has gone on to build another startup, DevStructure.
And this is only the beginning. It also doesn’t acknowledge the companies, like World Wide Technology, which have been here all along.
Programmers, You Need the Sysadmin. And Vice Versa.
In honor of System Administrator Appreciation Day, I decided to revisit an article from last year regarding the role of system administrators in the world of cloud computing. At Contegix, system administrators (our engineers) make up the overwhelming majority of our staff. Employing a significant engineering staff is a necessity as a provider. They are responsible for delivering hosting and cloud solutions to our customers. The article addresses the question of whether system administrators are needed when there is no physical or network infrastructure.
In October 2009, George Reese wrote an article for O’Reilly Community titled “Your Cloud Needs a Sys Admin”. The article discusses how and why system administrators are still needed, even in the age of cloud computing. George breaks it down to a simple point—divide responsibilities based upon skill sets and knowledge.
System administrators have had the role of hardware procurement removed in the world of cloud computing. This is a huge benefit as it is often (but not always) mind numbing work for most administrators. They are now allowed to focus on where they can deliver the highest value — the development and long term maintenance of the application infrastructure. (No one buys a dedicated or cloud server to receive pings back. It’s always been about the applications!) Specifically, this represents the planning of application infrastructure, reducing risks and liability in it, and managing infrastructure across the ever changing landscape of application, user, and environment requirements.
If George is right, as we believe he is, I think we could see the overall evolution and expansion of what defines cloud computing. In reality, cloud computing is outsourcing at its core definition. A company outsources a portion or all of their Internet infrastructure requirements to another company specializing specifically in it. The system administrator outsources the procurement of infrastructure to a company specializing in its delivery. This is a physical outsourcing. Yet, what is the next step?
Our belief is that the outsourcing will extend beyond just the infrastructure into the system administration of the infrastructure and application stack. For Contegix, this represents the promise of our managed services — delivered for dedicated infrastructure as Beyond Managed Hosting and for cloud infrastructure as Cloud Cover. We often see this as a blend of our customers’ system administration team and our system administrators. We work together to supplement and compliment the other party, and both parties dive deeper and take responsibility for the application stack. It also allows our customers to focus on their core business.
I think there is also another important, overlooked point in the article. System administrators need developers. System administrators are great at writing scripts and programs to make their lives easier. Yet, system administrators are not specialists at building the applications. At Contegix, we follow the same principle in often using outsourced development blended with some internal development.
At the time the article was published, we had just launched our public cloud offering. This represented our first step into a platform that allowed customers to decide whether they wanted unmanaged or managed. I remember reading the article and wondering how this would be reflected in our cloud. Today, cloud computing with our Cloud Cover represents a double digit percentage of our cloud offering.
When we began building Contegix, we realized it was always about the applications. No one buys a server (physical or virtual) to run a ping and get some ICMP packets. The Internet has, and always will be, about the applications. Therefore, we made the application infrastructure the core of our management and focus of our hosting services.
As we build out cloud templates, we want to extend this belief into the templates themselves. It can not be about just the operating system. Each template has been built “The Contegix Way”. These are built using the components and deployment methodologies that have served our customers for years and continue to do so today. Some of these target developers, some for system administrator implementors, and some target application users. Below is our list, but we want your feedback.
For system administrators / application implementors:
For application users:
Yet, we want to hear – what do you want to see in a cloud template and ready to deploy in less than 5 minutes? Please leave comments.
So, apparently people are lining up at the New York Apple Store. This is the same store that has been out of iPhones for about 2 weeks. This is also the store that is open 24 hours a day.
Tonight, my iPhone encountered a stronger opponent – the kitchen floor. While bringing in the milk from Oberweis, I dropped my iphone on the floor. The floor won.
In November 2006, we purchased a high definition Panasonic 42″ plasma television for our family room. Our crappy 22 inch TV was developing dark spots and fading. Courtney wanted a panel television due to the odd layout of our family room. I am far from a videophile or audiophile – hell, I can not even tell you if the system is 720 progressive, 720 interlace, 1020, whatever. For me, I just want a decent picture and TiVo.
We were on of the early adopters of TiVo, having purchased our Series 1 Standalone unit in March 1999. (For reference on the time, I also picked up our first DVD player and the recently released copy of an Oscar-forgotten story detailing a young man overcoming his mental capacity obstacles.) I remember the day I brought the TiVo home. Courtney asked me point blank “Are you insane? This is the dumbest contraption I have ever heard of.” These are words she would live to regret years later watching the promiscuous life details of doctors (here, here, here). We later upgraded to a DirecTiVo and chose DirecTV solely on the TiVo feature. To put it simply, we love our TiVo.
Yet, it was the plasma television purchase led us into the slow slide of ending our 9+ year love affair with TiVo. When the television was first hooked up, the standard definition channels look pixelated but livable. It was better than the black spots and the TV just looked damn sexy. Last week is when everything changed.
On Friday, we began to hear the dreaded hard drive clicking sound. Every geek in the world knows this is not a healthy sign. Furthermore, the click was accompanied with random pauses of 2 to 40 seconds. The pauses were occurring every few seconds. It would take 2 hours to watch a 1 hour show. When I called DirecTV to replace the unit under my protection plan, I was nicely informed that they would be happy to send out a DirecTV-brand DVR. I told them I did not want this. I wanted a TiVo, my old buddy and companion for the past 9 years. The agent’s unauthorized recommendation – eBay. I was pissed as why I have a protection plan where the replacement is inferior. A bald-headed, wack job would call these stages “Shock, denial, and anger”.
Finally, I succumbed to the reality (resolution stage). If I had to get a DirecTV-brand DVR, it was time to upgrade to HD. The technician was out yesterday to perform the installation which was pretty painless despite the obtrusive satellite receiver. The damn thing looks like it could radiate a bald eagle from a hundred yards. I do have to admit that the picture is beautiful. The TV is now displaying image quality for which it was designed. The DVR is clanky and leaves a stark testament to the TiVo UI designers who built a better interface over a decade ago.
The only downside is that some people are not meant to be seen in high def.