|Posted on Jul 21, 2011 08:11:59 AM | Adrian Gardner | 0 Comments ||
On June 22, 2011, I presented at the Third Annual Cloud Computing World Forum in London. An estimated 5,000 attendees, over 120 speakers, and 200 private and public vendors participated in this forum that featured all of the key players within the Cloud Computing (CC) and Software as a Service (SaaS) industries. I enjoyed the opportunity to represent our Agency at the forum, and I presented Cloud as a Game-Changing Business Strategy with the mindset that if used effectively, it will be able to reduce the cost and schedule of various projects’ life cycles.
As a highly technical, governmental agency, NASA’s success leans heavily on its computing capabilities. Utilizing the most efficient and effective approaches for storage, processing, and bandwidth is imperative to ensure our continuing.
Mission-based projects within our agency often have very long IT life cycles, and they are also usually one of a kind and complex: high-stake endeavors. Decisions for missions begin early in the strategic planning phase. Due to long lead times for procurement of hardware, IT acquisitions also happen early in the life cycle. Next, because of the long life cycle, upgrades need to occur regularly; otherwise, what was new when the planning began will be obsolete by the actual launch date. In addition, the necessary compute must be estimated far in advance of when it will actually be needed, which can hinder the interoperability of a project’s components. Another important aspect is that duplicate IT environments are sometimes created from the variety of projects (e.g., duplicative developmental environments, integration environments, and test environments) resulting also in the duplication of software, hardware, and licenses. Furthermore, additional certifications are necessary for any duplicative environment. These are obvious drawbacks of our current system. However, CC, when strategically used, offers solutions to many of these scenarios. With the availability of on-demand access to compute and incredible scalability (elasticity), there is no need for advanced estimating, duplicative environments, non-sharing of expensive licensing, and non-sharing of HW and SW.
The above said, CC is not a one-size-fits-all solution, because some systems (e.g., embedded systems) do not fall within CC’s use cases. For example, there is some risk involved when dealing with highly sensitive or complex missions. Also, there are other obstacles, which would need to be considered carefully before proceeding: such as the introduction of possible complications to a project or potential security risks. Additionally, latency can become an issue once data and applications become distributed and certain spectrums of compute (e.g., tightly coupled supercomputing) are needed. Lastly, cultural resistance to change (if disruptive enough to a particular organization) can be a good reason to hold off on a rapid migration to CC.
In order for an organization to utilize CC as a game-changing business strategy, it should be implemented strategically. First, determine where CC can bring the most value to the organization; next, gauge the levels of potential willingness for adoption. Finally, choose an appropriate approach for execution: an enterprise-wide or a project-by-project approach. The enterprise approach was discussed above, so I will address the project-centric approach next.
For certain organizations, as discussed above, it may not be feasible to implement CC on an enterprise-wide basis. An alternative then is to use CC on a project-by-project basis. Such would be possible for six different types of projects.
1. Those that need the latest IT on a “just-in-time” basis. E.g., system or mission development and construction or renovations of buildings.
2. Projects that need stop-gap capability such as transferring information, consolidating servers, or reorganizing a data center.
3. Risks associated with projects, businesses, and change such as indecisive funding, changes in demand, or significant changes to IT.
4. Missions facing challenging funding such as cyclic demands or economic downturns.
5. Improving new projects to include utilizing CC until the scope is understood or as you need compute.
6. Proofs of concepts. E.g., Scoping of network performance, and scoping workstation or server performance.
In summary, CC should be embedded in the project-management process to ensure business success, risk mitigation, significant cost savings, a better understanding of compute requirements, and the ability to obtain the latest technologies when buying new hardware. If executed properly, organizations will be able to utilize CC as a game-changing business strategy.
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