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5. Apps to the Cloud
HP CIO Randy Mott is pushing forward on a strategy to increase efficiency by moving many IT apps to the cloud. An inventory of global revealed that eight to 10 apps were doing the same thing in different parts of HP operations. He blamed this, in part, for keeping IT focused too much on maintenance of the existing infrastructure rather than on innovation to increase business productivity. The inventory also revealed that HP had 85 data centers in 29 countries running more than 7,000 applications, 700 data marts and 1,240 active business projects all for internal IT. From that, the company went to six data centers, less than 1,700 apps, one enterprise data warehouse and 500 active business projects.
"That kind of inefficiency meant we could only spend 10 percent of our time on innovation and the rest on keeping the lights on," said Mott.
The company divided its apps into two categories. Enterprise applications will comprise 45 percent of the consolidated HP global IT platform and will be hosted internally. The rest will be delivered as software as a service on the cloud.
"It takes leadership and vision to adopt a next-generation architecture and to push through all the barriers to achieve real gains," said Mott. "By doing so, we took IT spend from 4 percent of our revenues down to 2 percent."
6. Cloud Acceleration
An industrial pump company known as Pump Solutions Group (PSG) has a data center in Southern California that it augments with cloud-based storage. Jeff Rountree, Global Network Manager for PSG, implemented cloud resources managed by AT&T, which has rapidly established itself as one of the major players in cloud infrastructure. But he realized that solving mushrooming storage demands by throwing everything onto the cloud was a recipe for trouble. Initially, the apparent low cost of storage would save the organization money.
However, as data was placed on the cloud indiscriminately, he foresaw a future where storage again began to cost the organization too much. After all, most cloud providers charge by GB, often based on how many GBs uploaded and how many downloaded.
Instead of shipping everything to the cloud, therefore, Rountree saw the value of deduplicating and encrypting his backups before sending them to AT&T. He purchased the Whitewater Cloud Storage Accelerator by Riverbed.
"Why pay for 100 GB when you can deduplicate it and pay for 10 GB instead," Rountree said.
For disaster recovery purposes, he set it up that AT&T would keep local and remote copies of his backups to ensure redundancy and failover, should the AT&T systems suffer an event, while also keeping a master copy of his data onsite in the Whitewater appliance.
"Whitewater Accelerators optimize and deduplicate data, so that keeps my costs down in a pay-as-you-go cloud model," said Rountree. "Backup times have been cut in half, and we have entirely eliminated the practice of having to stage backups on disk before sending them to tape. In fact, we have no more need to truck backup tapes offsite."
7. Cloud Philosophy
The cloud has even given rise to high-flown philosophizing about how it can change the world. Michael Schrage, research fellow at MIT Sloan School's Center for Digital Business said, "The cloud is the greatest medium for rapid multi-modal experimentation and test in the history for the world."
What he's talking about is the future of the agile infrastructure. Many organizations, he said, decline to ask fundamental questions about the business they are in and the value they provide. Just being a technology company, for example, is not enough. He said that infrastructure has a very bad brand -- regarded as overhead. IT has to get away from that, and he pushes the cloud heavily as the best approach. But he cautioned that many in IT, by retaining old beliefs in centralized IT, were under threat by the cloud.
"Business managers who have had trouble getting IT to experiment and test things out, are going to the cloud to do it themselves," said Schrage.
Due to the explosion in data volumes, he thinks R&D is gradually becoming E&S (experiment and scale).
"Storage and IT owns scaling, so why not adopt the experimental side?" said Schrage. "Instead of being in the back office, you could move to the front line."
The big inflection point is to do it with internal IT or with the cloud. It is up to IT if it resists this movement and seeks to live within a data center silo, he said, or adopts the cloud and evolves into this new role. Otherwise, outfits like Amazon could well see themselves taking over more and more of the storage role via online services.
Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).