I’ve participated in and listened in on some interesting discussions this week in regards to Cloud Computing. The first was a discussion in which Massimo Re Ferrè attempted to create what he called the Cloud Magic Rectangle (more on that in a minute). The second discussion I listened in on was between Massimo and Randy Bias. While I didn’t track the entire conversation, one thing that Randy said really stuck out. Randy mentioned the concept of organizations that lean forward vs. organizations that lean back.
The Cloud Magic Rectangle
Let’s first look at the Magic Rectangle. As you might have realized, the name pokes fun at Gartner’s Magic Quadrant concept. The goal was to bucket different Cloud solutions into 3 categories: Orchestrated Clouds, Policy Based Clouds, and Design for Fail Clouds. Each category has various characteristics based on the value proposition, how the cloud is built, and the benefits to the end user.
Generally speaking Massimo has it right with what makes up each category. Where I take issue is in his conclusion where he lumps BMC in with the Orchestrated Cloud camp. The first release of BMC’s Cloud Lifecycle Management was very much an Orchestrated Cloud solution. But as our product has matured over the last 2 ½ years, we have shifted more towards a Policy-Based Cloud. I won’t bother to run through an exhaustive list, but features like Public or Private Cloud Support, APIs, Scalability, Multi Hypervisor Support, Integrated Layer 2 network support, Integrated Security, Hardware Agnostic, Virtual DC Support, and Policy Based Placement have all been features of CLM for at least 1 year, if not since the product’s inception.
But beyond the error in categorization, something else struck me. Massimo told me that he got feedback that BMC shouldn’t have even been included in the Orchestrated Cloud column (ie, we’re not Cloud or Cloud Management). This is similar to other sentiments I’ve heard where people have called us “legacy” vendors, “Cloud Washed Shite”. That was coupled with the argument that in order to be “policy based cloud” customers should be able to download a trial of your software and install it themselves like they can with VCloud Director and Microsoft System Center 2012.
While these are interesting arguments they couldn’t be farther from the truth. First, if you think building a Cloud is as simple as downloading a trial software package, and throwing it on some lab hardware, you’re not long for the Cloud world. Sure, you can grab the install, build yourself a “Cloud” and roll that out within your little siloed organization. But if you want an enterprise wide solution that needs to bring along with it the baggage of the last 25+ years of Client-Server computing, you need expertise and experience that a implementation partner can bring. In the end, our professional services isn’t about installing the software, it’s about designing a solution to meet your enterprises short and long term goals. And most importantly, about serving the needs of the business.
On the other point, I turn to a blog post I read by Randy Bias regarding complexity and simplicity in Cloud building. An interesting point Randy made was that if you want to build Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2012, you don’t try to build AWS in 2012. Instead you start simple and build AWS as it was in 2008 or 2009. Then you layer on more features by iterating on top of this foundation. BMC CLM helps customers to build this foundation, and then layer on the features they need in the future. Additionally, much of our product development is driven off of customer’s requests for new features, and as the customer matures, we mature with them. Two years ago we had no Capacity Aware Placement. Now CLM can determine which compute pools will provide you the resources required to fulfill your request.
Forward or Backwards Leaning
And that brings me around to the other conversation I listened in on between Randy and Massimo. Randy mentioned that a difference in opinion between him and Massimo could be due to Randy dealing with more forward leaning organizations vs. backward leaning organizations. This is an important distinction and one that is often lost in the “Cloud Wars”. Many pundits say “Enterprise IT needs to be like NetFlix”. In principal, this is a good idea. NetFlix has done some pretty amazing things in the Cloud, Operations, and Development space, and they should be applauded for their work. In practice, everyone being NetFlix is much more difficult. NetFlix is a very forward leaning organization. As a young company, they are not tied down with the baggage of years of “Business as Usual”.
Many IT organizations are backward Leaning, or at the very least middle leaning. They have years and years of baggage that they are dragging with them on the Cloud journey. If they’ve managed to shed some of this baggage, they’ve become more middle leaning. But in the end they need companies that understand where these IT organizations are coming from, and how they can move forward, while still managing this baggage on a day to day basis as it is not going away anytime soon.
And that is the beauty of BMC’s overall solution and strategy. We can help optimize your IT organization by providing consulting services to start you on the Cloud journey, we can provide you products that are constantly maturing in the features and functionality required for Cloud, and we can manage all that baggage you are bringing along with you. In the end, it is about meeting the needs of the business, something BMC has helped companies do for years. Cloud doesn’t change this end goal, it simply changes the speed and way you achieve that goal.