The Business of IT

The ROI of cloud computing

I am often asked by CEOs and CIOs to explain the ROI of cloud computing. My answer goes something like this.

How well do you see? The main consideration in evaluating the ROI of cloud computing is your eyesight. What is the scope of your vision? What do you believe about the future? Ask yourself, as we create the ideal future for our customers, what kinds of changes will my organization need to accommodate? Think about how these changes will impact your use of computing – and indeed your entire operation. Consider the four major dimensions that change will include: technological, economic, organizational, and risk.

Cloud computing is a way of incorporating changes in technological, economic, organizational, and risk considerations into your use of computing. The value of cloud computing, when properly deployed, is in being able to support the changing technological, economic, organizational, and risk landscapes while keeping rock-steady focus on your business’s raison d’être: delivering great products and services to your customers. If you can see that future clearly, and appreciate the changes your organization will need to accommodate along the way, then you can make effective cost and value (ROI) decisions about cloud computing. You’ve got to see change in order to experience the sea change.

Do you need help painting your vision of the future and appreciating the changes necessary to get there? Contact me.

OpenStack Israel Podcast The Business of IT

OpenStack Israel Podcast, Episode 14

This podcast series explores topics of interest to OpenStack practitioners, focusing on the ecosystem in Israel.

In this episode I speak with Mark Shuttleworth of Canonical. Some highlights of our discussion:

  • The role Ubuntu and Canonical will play in OpenStack’s future.
    • OpenStack is the next phase of Linux: Linux at large scale. The majority of OpenStack deployments are on top of Ubuntu.
    • The mission is to bring regular, seamless releases of OpenStack to Ubuntu users. To do what Ubuntu did in the public cloud space – making it easy to operate at large scale – in the private cloud.
  • Looking back at Ubuntu, here is what we did that resulted in Ubuntu becoming ubiquitous in the cloud.
    • Took the cloud seriously from very early on. Noticed that many interesting, smart people were doing stuff with it.
    • Evaluated what people were doing and the difficulties. Noticed that classic OSes were built to assume the machine would be long-lived.
    • Changed Ubuntu to work very well in the cloud environment, beginning back in 2007.
    • The next frontier is in getting applications to be more widely operable, allowing organizations to share and reuse tooling to deploy and scale applications. That’s what Juju is all about, and it’s not Ubuntu-specific.
  • Developers use Chef and Puppet, and Juju is a distant third in the orchestration automation space.
    • Juju is a one of a newer generation of tools, so adoption is naturally lagging behind the older technologies. The growth rate of the Juju community indicates it is strong and healthy.
    • Juju “charms” can be used to wrap Chef or Puppet configuration management and turn it into automated orchestration.
    • Canonical uses Juju to glue together OpenStack and orchestrate it.
    • Juju began as orchestration automation for EC2 and then it was ported to other clouds.
  • Containers are very interesting. They are poised to become the unit of deployment for PaaS systems. They are also being used like hypervisors, providing multitenancy in environments where the priority is performance over isolation.
  • Ubuntu looked at OpenStack seriously from the very beginning, and threw its own weight behind the project when it moved away from another cloud infrastructure platform. Ubuntu contributed leadership around governance of large scale distributed open source projects. Much of the mystique around OpenStack will disappear over the next two years as it becomes more well-understood and proven to be easy to deploy. Now Ubuntu’s focus is to get OpenStack to be an economically viable alternative to public clouds.
  • Does OpenStack need a Self Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life?
    • Moving some of the technical leadership positions into the OpenStack Foundation would help resolve some of the deadlock we see in the area – but this is not a demand, nor a necessity. OpenStack will thrive nonetheless.
    • And the project should encourage a healthy dialog about how its governance can be improved.
    • The Foundation has been wise to limit its staff, stay small, and stay focused during this period of incredible hype and willingness on the part of vendors to buy a role and ride the hype with fat checks. As vendors understand OpenStack and how they can contribute to it, those pressures will lessen.
    • It would be wise to take a narrow view on what OpenStack really is: Nova, Neutron, and Cinder — a very tight collection of resource management capabilities, with some additional glue around them for identity, security, and other bits and pieces.
    • If the technical leadership were brought into the Foundation, the pace of progress on this core of OpenStack would improve.
    • The Foundation has excellent governance, and in fact is long on governance but short on leadership. We need a Compute “Moses”, a Storage “Moses”, and a Networking “Moses”.


Shlomo Swidler’s OpenStackIL Podcast Episode 14: Mark Shuttleworth of Canonical

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