The great cloud migration has begun

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and IBM recently have been battling in court over a $600 million  contract to build a private cloud for the CIA. That’s a sizable contract, but it’s worth much more than its face value. Let’s briefly examine the facts in the case and their ramifications:

  • AWS wins the contract from the CIA in late 2012.
  • IBM protests to the Government Accountability Office in February 2013.
  • GAO sides with IBM on two points and recommends the CIA rebid the contract.
  • AWS sues the government to stop the re-bid. IBM files as “intervener” in the case.
  • On Oct. 7, a federal judge rules in favor of AWS.

Why did IBM protest? AWS is the leader in offering cloud computing services to businesses and IBM is trying to establish a foothold in the space by leveraging its long history of providing IT services to the government. In many ways, Amazon in this space is disrupting the traditional enterprise IT market. Like other technology disruptions, specifically smartphones, vendors that do not adapt quickly may go out of business. Praveen Asthana, chief marketing officer of Cloud Brokerage company Gravitant, stated in a recent interview that “Cloud computing is the next enterprise battlefield.”

Why does this one contract matter? Because it is part of a larger, Intelligence Community (IC) cloud vision, as stated on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence website: “In 2012, IC CIO embarked on the largest IT transformation in the history of the Intelligence Community. This transformation, guided by the IC Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE) Strategy, focuses on enabling greater integration, information sharing, and information safeguarding through a common IC IT approach that substantially reduces costs.”

This type of large-scale enterprise transformation is the linchpin that will finally move the cloud “across the chasm” to mainstream adoption. Furthermore, for the companies involved, the lessons learned and experience gained from tackling and solving the migration challenges are invaluable. First-mover advantage is just as real in cloud computing as it has been in every other computing revolution.  Cloud computing is still evolving, so digging into a well-funded customer’s problem set is the best way to work through the “growing pains” stage. For example, containers-as-a-service is emerging as a lighter weight alternative to current virtualization technologies used by infrastructure-as-a-service providers. These types of issues are best sorted out on real-world problems.

So, what does all this mean? The writing is on the wall: Cloud computing is inevitable. The traditional IT infrastructure cannot handle the demands of burst users (as witnessed in the recent health insurance exchange crashes), nor does it offer elasticity (cost savings for tight budgets), big data capability (exponential growth in data volume) or agility (rapid provisioning in minutes). Just like IBM and Amazon, most organizations see the benefits of this new computing-as-a-utility landscape and are ready to forge a road map to get there.

A key part of that road map is how to migrate your applications to the cloud. In my new book, The Great Cloud Migration, I introduce the “Triple-A” strategy for crafting your implementation plan: assessment, architecture and then action. While the temptation is to jump right to the action stage, you will find that path leads to wasted money and numerous blind alleys. Assess your current state via metadata collection (hardware, applications, data, organizational readiness, and architectural readiness) and evaluation methods (capacity analysis, risk analysis, complexity analysis, etc.). A proper assessment will allow you to prioritize your migration, find the quick-wins and know the risks.

After assessing your current state, analyze and design your objective architecture. A cloud-native architecture is different than traditional architectures and stresses loose-coupling, Web standards, asynchronous messaging and much more. After these two stages you are ready to take action and begin the migration process. Migrating your applications to this new cloud-native architecture is an opportunity to develop an agile IT infrastructure that delivers compute power as simply as utilities deliver electric power! 

About the Author

Michael C. Daconta ([email protected]) is the Vice President of Advanced Technology at InCadence Strategic Solutions and the former Metadata Program Manager for the Homeland Security Department. His new book is entitled, The Great Cloud Migration: Your Roadmap to Cloud Computing, Big Data and Linked Data.


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