Posted by: Greg Ness | October 19, 2016

IT Needs More Than a Pyrrhic Victory for Existing Apps

An important interview about the chasm between IT, existing apps and IaaS…

Yesterday NetworkWorld published a notable interview discussing one of the core challenges faced by IT as we enter the cloud and digital age: What to do with the existing, core apps residing in owned/leased data centers?nww-logo

John Gallant asked CloudVelox CEO Raj Dhingra about the importance of cloud automation to the success of “brownfield” apps and the role of IT in becoming cloud-enabled.

With AWS, Azure, Google and a host of other service providers hovering around looking for an angle of attack on the bulk of enterprise IT spend, Gallant shines a light on the great cloud migration irony:  The leading providers have been slow to address the cloud migration challenge with anything more than manual processes and image conversion tools re-branded as cloud migration tools, which aren’t feasible for enterprise apps with robust networking, management and security requirements.

They have not addressed the risks and costs required to migrate complex grownfield environments into their cloud. This issue came to light earlier with a groundbreaking Forrester survey: Labor costs can make up 50% of public cloud migration.

While the cloud providers grow quickly with new apps created in their clouds, they leave the bulk of IT spending on the table for competitors. They also leave traditional IT types stranded between cloud experts, extensive risks and processes, AMIs and complex, critical applications. It’s the essential recipe for a pyrrhic victory at a time of increasing budgetary scrutiny combined with security and digitalization pressures.if-we-are-victorious-in-one-more-battle-with-the-romans-we-shall-be-utterly-ruined

When the great cloud gap closes (because of automation) the real cloud battle will begin. Those who break the process lock-in with automation will be the real winners.

Read more cloud-related interviews and developments at the free Clouds monthly.


I spent most of last week at the Future in Review tech conference in Park City listening to afuture-in-review-kicks-off-in-park-city series of intense 30 minute sessions on tech disruptions occurring across multiple fields, from advanced materials and computing to oceanography and pharma. It’s the kind of breadth and depth that probably led The Economist to call Future in Review “The best technology conference in the world.” [Images are furnished courtesy of Kris Krug photography]

I’ve handpicked what I think are some of the most timely and relevant sessions for enterprise executives, including my session on Digitalization, Cloud and the 21st Century Enterprise.


Opening Keynote: William Janeway on Globalization, Trade, Immigration and Democracy

janeway-keynoteJaneway (Warburg Pincus) kicked off Fire with a brilliant keynote highlighting the micro effects of macro trends, explaining a great deal of the momentum behind Brexit and current US political realities.  It was one of the most poignant and precise explanations of domestic reactions to globalization.

One key takeaway: societies need to do a better job of addressing the stresses and strains of global integration, including migration and trade and preparing for various shocks to the system.


Watch Janeway’s Keynote on YouTube


Digitalization, Cloud and the 21st Century

It was a big panel because execs from Microsoft, Google/Waze, Accenture, Oracle, SOASTA and Avnet had a lot to say.  We concluded that most large enterprises were not prepared for the digital/cloud age and would likely be disrupted by smaller companies with more focused digitalization and cloud projects. Agility and data would triumph over inertia.  My mantra looking forward: “He (or she) with the best algorithm wins.”fire-panel-1-jpg

“The emerging trend of digitalization is blurring the line between the physical and digital world. The dramatic reduction in the cost of data collection, storage and analysis in the last several years has opened the door for this change, and it’s changing the nature of business. Greg Ness guided a discussion. Panel on the consequences of digitalization on Day 2 of the Future in Review 2016 conference. Preston McAfee, Michael Schwarz, Mark Sunday, Tim Fitzgerald [not pictured], James Urquhart, and Edy Liongosari were also present as panel members.”


View the Digitalization Panel on YouTube


China and IP Theft: Boiling the Frog

Perhaps one of the most grounded and provocative panels dealt with the rising tide of intellectual property being stole by nation-sponsored theft.  The panel included the CEO of American Superconductor, a firm recently featured on 60 Minutes (The Great Brain Robbery) as a case study of IP theft and the damage in can wreak on a company and a nation.china-ip-theft-panel

“The session began with a clip from 60 Minutes, which went through the findings of an INVNT/IP report on China’s government sponsored theft of American IP. The clip also introduced the story of McGahn’s company, which suffered serious damage due to IP theft despite their best efforts.

Anderson spoke on China’s end game with the consistent flow of stolen IP to eventually take over major parts of the global economy. He suggested that relentless development was being used as an anesthetic by the Chinese government to quell public discontent.”




Visualizing IP Theft: Looking at the Incidents Globally

If you think the previous panel was bleak, the visualization of IP theft was even bleaker. Evan Anderson developed a database of known and suspected thefts from nation to nation to show a powerful visualization of intellectual property leaving the US for China and other nations. Russ Dagget moderated the panel discussion.visualizing-ip-theft

Anderson started by pointing out that INVNT/IP has a database of IP flows going back to 2001, originating from geotagged data points logging publicly disclosed thefts.

“The asset of innovation is intellectual property,” he said.

Montgomery visualized these flows by uploading them to The resulting data was displayed on a globe, with animated arrows flowing from the origin country to the destination country of the IP. Red arrows referred to public thefts, purple to known but publicly undisclosed thefts, and black being projected and unknown threats. 



It will be weeks if not months before I fully absorb all of the great content assembled by the Fire team. You can get a glimpse of the sessions here at the 2016 Fire agenda.  I plan to post highlights of several other “must read” sessions from Future in Review here in coming weeks, based on time. Stay tuned.

Given the rise of digitalization and cloud and the impact of growing cyber threats, successful enterprises will have to be faster and more secure than ever across the next 3-5 years. If you miss the cloud you increase your chances to be a victim of theft and disruption.  Check out the Clouds monthly newsletter for more on the much-needed cloud automation and orchestration revolution.

Special thanks to Kris Krug for the images used in this post. You can reach him at

Join us for a world class panel on the impact of digitalization and cloud on the 21st century enterprise. Join us at Future in Review in Park City Sep 27-30.


“Digitalization, the Cloud, and the Transformation of the 21st Century Enterprise”:

With R. Preston McAfee, Chief Economist and VP, Microsoft; Michael Schwarz, Chief Scientist for Waze, Google; Mark Sunday, SVP and CIO, Oracle America; James Urquhart, SVP SOASTA; Tim Fitzgerald, VP Avnet; Edy Liongosari, Chief Research Scientist, Accenture; hosted by Greg Ness, VP, WorldWide Marketing, CloudVelox, and SNS Ambassador for Cloud Computing

Looking forward to a great panel!

Just discovered an interesting cloud blog> Flackbox by Neil Anderson.

Posted by: Greg Ness | August 15, 2016

System-Wide Outages: Marc Farley RideCast

I spent five minutes with Marc last week discussing recent system-wide outages at Delta, Southwest and Salesforce. We talked about the challenges facing enterprises with cobbled infrastructures under increased digitalization pressures. As said in the New Normal blog, we’re likely to see more of these types of outages in the future, until eneterprises invest in more advanced, scalable and secure infrastructures designed for the digital age we’re entering.

Farley Ridecast Digitalization

At CloudVelox we took a disaster recovery best practices survey more than a year ago and findings suggested that most IT departments didn’t test their secondary sites frequently enough to protect their workloads. Testing frequency is part of the problem. Reslience is another. Both are hard to address in infrastructures of cobble.

For more background read: DR is Broken but Don’t Blame IT and CIOs Must Cross a New Chasm of Disruption.

Posted by: Greg Ness | August 10, 2016

Systemwide Outages: The New Normal

Delta, Southwest and Salesforce Infrastructures Mark New IT Reality

From the premier IT infrastructure of to the cobbled infrastructures of major airlines, this year has been a watershed for system-wide outages. Why would we think that next year will be any different?

Digitalization pressures are escalating as customers and employees expect more convenience.  And IT teams are adding new layers of cobble to old ones in an effort to keep up.More Disruptions

A recent article in Bloomberg nails the issue:

The failure of Delta Air Lines Inc.’s worldwide computer network this week spotlights the vulnerability of the information systems sustaining the biggest U.S. carriers, each of which has contended with major disruptions during the last year.

Complex networks cobbled together over the decades need major overhauls requiring significant new investments, said Bob Edwards, a former chief information officer for United Continental Holdings Inc. Recent flaws in computer systems quickly escalated into corporate black eyes that exacted costs in both money and reputation.

“I don’t believe the flight ops, maintenance, passenger service systems, crew and dispatch applications are engineered with the level of redundancy needed,” Edwards, who retired in 2014 under pressure after several service disruptions at United, said by telephone. More disruptions are a near certainty: “Mistakes will happen, devices will malfunction.”

We took a disaster recovery best practices survey more than a year ago and it demonstrated how broken “IT as usual” has become under the pressures of digitalization.  IT pros didn’t have the time and/or resources to test their redundant systems in case there were failures, like those recently experienced by Southwest and Delta.

For more background read: DR is Broken but Don’t Blame IT.

The question becomes: Now that layers of cobbles are crumbling under the pressures of digitalization what does IT do next? The answer, ironically for the airline industry and others, is in the clouds.  Otherwise, systemwide outages become a new normal.

UPDATE: See my 8/12 interview on Digitalization, Delta and Beyond.

Posted by: Greg Ness | August 4, 2016

The Cloud is Bigger than You Think- Much Bigger

If you’re interested in understanding what the future of IT will look like forget trying to forecast how many trillions in IT spending will be influenced by the cloud. We already know the number will be big, very big. Instead, leave that exercise to the hardware-bound vendors trying to predict how much time they have left as standalone companies.

A far more profound and meaningful question would address the impact that cloud will(L to R) Greg Ness, CloudVelox; Steve Daheb, Oracle; Azure James Staten; Cisco's Saravan Rajendran have on how enterprises operate, even in the very new future. Last fall I moderated a Future in Review panel on the cloud and new operating models. I managed to find it hidden on YouTube. At about 10min 30sec in we kicked into gear and started talking about how the definition of a company has changed and the increasingly fluid relationship between enterprise and customers.

How your company is defined and its customer relationships are much more important cloud considerations than the impacts of cloud spending on IT. Example: Uber

Uberfication is more than Convenience

The term “uberfication” has already been used to describe a deep understanding of convenience, especially from a consumer perspective.  Yet that definition is too narrow. Yes, we can watch a taxi automagically appear because Uber has built a transformational big data app that allows it to stay connected with drivers, fares and passengers in real-time.  The real significance of Uber is in how it has redefined the taxi industry and established remarkably fluid relationships with customers.

Cloud is Bigger Than You ThinkUber’s software, data and relationship with customers proved to be more valuable than ownership of fleets of cars and big yellow pages ads. The same could be said for a host of new app-centric firms including Airbnb.

In the last few minutes of the Future in Review cloud panel Azure’s Staten mentions a dairy farm in Israel using a big data app to track cows with bands (instead of bells) to boost milk productivity.  The dairy farm is defined by its ability to optimize its cows for production (and reproduction). In Staten’s example the farm is using advanced supply chain capabilities to obtain competitive advantage.

The Israeli dairy farm didn’t need racks and stacks of servers. It used the cloud.  Instead of rack maintenance it focused its resources on farming, applications and services.

Cisco’s Rajendran spoke about a case study recently presented at an industry tradeshow. Philips Healthcare used the cloud to manage unprecedented growth in patient medical records.  Their infrastructure before the cloud could not scale to support the needs of their customers. So rather than give up and settle for business as usual they grew with their customer’s demands and improved patient care.

Uberfication represents an app-centric IT posture, not the magical appearance of taxis

The successful enterprise of the 21st century will have a powerful application or service that differentiates it from those with massive, increasingly complex infrastructures requiring escalating maintenance costs. They’ll be agile and innovative at levels most organizations today don’t understand. And they’ll be able to scale with demand.

So the next time you see a massive cloud adoption statistic, think less about the spend trend and instead of how your team can shift to focusing on innovation and transformation versus traditional information and technology (a tip of the hat to Staten’s comment).

The cloud is about the unprecedented scale and distribution of computing power. It will create a vast new wave of wealth, market caps and business models. 

Posted by: Greg Ness | June 21, 2016

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The first newsletter dedicated to cloud automation strategy and tactics, including cloud migration and recovery. Monthly. No vendor product pitches, just the latest and greatest ideas from experts. Read it.

Coming July 2016.png

Posted by: Greg Ness | June 15, 2016

Enterprise Tech at Critical Crossroad


Enterprise Tech at a Critical Crossroad

“Earlier this week VMware (VMW) CEO Pat Gelsinger spoke about “violent shifts” in the tech industry.” It may have been an understatement. Read complete article on TalkMarkets.

Cloud, digitalization and mobile are changing the game by accelerating the pace of change, and tech vendors tied to legacy premise hardware will likely face years of unprecedented margin and growth pressures. Some will likely not survive in their current form while others will make the shift.

Posted by: Greg Ness | June 8, 2016

3 Recent Cloud Developments You Shouldn’t Have Missed

==> Salesforce announced a new strategic partnership with AWS

This announcement was pivotal because it defied conventional cloud wisdom.  Most analysts described SaaS as the ultimate evolution from premise-bound computing, with Untitled design (22)IaaS as a necessary middle step for many existing apps. That all changed when leading SaaS player announced that they would move onto AWS, mere days after a major Salesforce outage. Apparently the move to AWS caused some consternation within Salesforce’s high profile IT department.

==> A JP Morgan report in April cited the cloud as a strategic consideration for the future of dozens of tech companies

The report was only made available to JP Morgan’s clients, but you can read about it here and here. I put the report within the greater context of digitalization and cloud in: “Who will be crushed by Digitalization and Cloud?”

==> An Oppenheimer Report called AWS a massive efficiency flywheel for IT

Larry Dignan at ZDnet put the report in perspective here: “Amazon Web Services is likely to have 1.3 million servers that are more than three times more efficient than enterprise systems, data centers that use space better and generate better returns of about 20 percent.”

Posted by: Greg Ness | June 2, 2016

CIOs Must Cross New Chasm of Disruption

Since January I’ve published a pair of articles at Seeking Alpha on what I consider to beCrossing CIO Chasm early signs of a massive transformation of enterprise IT. Who will be crushed by Digitalization and the Cloud and Two Recent M&A Moves both addressed the new CIO chasm of digitalization and cloud.

Enterprise infrastructure is growing to levels of scale, complexity, cost and availability pressures well beyond the wildest dreams of any enterprise infrastructure hardware vendor.

Employees, partners, customers, etc. are accessing that infrastructure through endpoints that have as much software/functionality loaded into them as the early software stores. This represents an unprecedented level of scale, complexity and criticality, even for the largest of IT shops.

Digitalization with Cloud: The New CIO Chasm

The Internet of Things as it’s called is becoming a misnomer.  It’s really an Internet of Applications.  That may seem like a trivial distinction, but it makes all the difference in how one frames the disruption that has already destroyed the growth projections of most hardware vendors. You’ve seen the forecasts for infrastructure growth.  Mark Thiele, for example, recently predicted that the world will need 400 million servers by 2020. There is also an explosion in endpoints as the Internet of Things (IoT) redefines the meaning of “end-user” in the age of machine-to-machine communications. Thiele cited predictions ranging from 20 billion (Gartner) to 50 billion (Cisco) endpoints in the near future.

The real explosion is inside the growing population of endpoints and the servers.

Smart PhoneA recent survey found that the average Android user has 95 apps installed on their smartphone, supporting about 100 daily interactions via an average of 35 apps. Yet the explosion in apps has not translated into enhanced growth and margins for many of the hardware vendors. Software is continuing to drive hardware.

The growth in software that enables enhanced usability, agility, scalability, availability, manageability and security. Commoditization of the “things” is already underway, as software and apps become as strategic to endpoints as they became to PCs.

We’ve Seen This Before

The branch office boom and the enterprise web had a similar dynamic.  They created pressures for more application layer (referencing the OSI layers, especially 4-7) innovation to support increasingly diverse, specialized networking challenges. Companies like F5 and Riverbed focused on addressing these demands and companies like Cisco, Juniper and Citrix augmented their capabilities with the acquisitions of FineGround, Redline Networks/Peribit and NetScaler, respectively. The server load balancing market cratered as the demands shifted toward traffic management first, and then evolved toward secure application delivery.

Application delivery challenges today are more complex and exponentially more critical than they were ten years ago, when digitalization and smartphones were in their infancy (in terms of numbers shipped and, more importantly, installed applications).  Today, there are more apps in a single smartphone interacting 24/7 with an enterprise server and other apps than there were interacting from a branch office to HQ during business hours a decade ago.

The apps trigger the orders and the queries.  They determine who is ordering what from whom. They update key supply chain and analytics.

Outages, therefore, are becoming strategic issues even for second and third tier apps, as they are getting interconnected with other mission critical apps.

Don’t Forget the Cloud

In terms of app and service delivery the cloud becomes more than a necessity; it becomes an eventuality. Enterprises cannot cost effectively manage the 24/7 demands, including scale and complexity of this new world of digitalization.  Even Salesforce, perhaps one of the most advanced and well-managed SaaS offerings has capitulated and switched from their own cloud to a public IaaS cloud.

The cloud will drive an even larger app delivery disruption than the branch office and CloudAutomation and Orchestration Pieenterprise web boom because the stakes are even higher and the complexities greater. Instead of another appliance (a cloud front end – lol) it will be software: cloud automation and orchestration software.  This emerging category will include cloud management and optimization, cloud recovery and Dev/Test, cloud migration, cloud security and cloud discovery solutions.  These technologies will drive IT into new levels of resilience and productivity as these new digitalization and cloud demands emerge.

We will likely see the emergence of innovative cloud “brokerages” that will help CIOs address these exploding complexities. New approaches will be needed in much the same way as exploding volume and complexity forced the financial services industries to evolve from 1990’s era infrastructures, applications, policies, and governance structures. Comparing Wall Street’s transaction volumes of two decades ago against what it does today, you can see that digitalization and cloud will have an even greater impact on a broader range of corporate operating models.

Cloud automation softwareEnterprises are still trying to tackle these changes with yesterday’s tools.  For example, they continue to throw scripts and manual processes at the problems they are facing. The challenges will mushroom as enterprises try to fulfill CIO directives without automation. See The Trillion Dollar Cloud Question. And that is just the beginning.

Digitalization and Cloud for enterprise CIOs will be the equivalent of globalization on steroids: robust, real-time app queries across a growing range of endpoints into an exploding mesh of cloud workloads. In this very disruptive scenario resilience becomes strategic to growth, margins and the CIO chasm.

The Resilient Enterprise

Gartner in 2015 determined that 80% of outages are caused by either operation errors or app failures. The remaining 20% included hardware, OS, security, power and disaster events. Put that within the context of this greater mesh of the Internet of Applications (robust endpoints with dozens of apps interacting more frequently, including micro-transactions).

CIOs will have to arbitrate the growing conflict between static, manually scripted actions needed to address increasingly dynamic demands within ever complex app environments in hybrid clouds. Software is the best answer.

It’s no wonder that Gartner is already tracking business resilience and increased spending, especially on second and third tier apps. The first critical mission for the cloud for existing apps, therefore, may be to automate manual processes related to resilience, as IT today already cannot keep up with accelerating demands.  See, for example, DR is Broken, Just Don’t Blame IT.

This also extends to security.  Enterprise security teams must shift from further futile investments in legacy prevention technologies to more real-time, software-centric automated behavioral analytics and incident response technologies for greater resilience to recover from attacks they cannot stop.

Transformation will involve: 1) app modernization; 2) hybrid IT – using cloud IaaS as needed (see this very useful blog on evaluating apps for cloud migration); and 3) software-driven automation.

It is natural for traditional IT to think initially of scripts and manual processes to tackle the problem. Yet as delays and issues manifest themselves automation will become a necessity. The alternative is CIO blindness during perhaps the greatest transformation in IT since the advent of the network.  Investing in key capabilities will also help CIOs take their seat at the strategy table by finally aligning with and enabling the business rather than being a mere cost center.

Further reading

Exar Automates Oracle Stack Migration: InformationWeek

The Trillion Dollar Cloud Challenge

Why the Cloud will Crush Traditional Disaster Recovery

One of the Best CIO Quotes on Secondary Data Centers


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