Too often, the journey to the cloud is viewed as a purely technical challenge. The reality, however, proves to be different. Cloud technology capabilities must match the organization’s knowledge and processes to be able to leverage them to their full potential, and vice versa. Especially the areas of compliance, security, and management and control present a much broader challenge than just choosing and rolling out a technology solution. Also, a move to the cloud is never the goal in itself: always start with defining what your business drivers are to pinpoint what it is that you want to achieve. Everyone wants to do things cheaper and faster, but exactly how much and to what extent is this to be achieved without compromising quality?
As a supplier, sharing knowledge, insights and customer experiences can be a valuable contribution. This can be done one-on-one with the customer, but it can also be achieved by bringing a number of customers together in a round table discussion, as we recently did with the publisher of CIO Magazine. Such a discussion always provides both enjoyable and fruitful discussions, partly because the route to the promised cloud landscape is a bit different in each individual situation. Where one customer starts their journey from within its own data centers, others look for a solution purely in the public cloud. All will end up in a hybrid situation, quite simply a combination of multiple services into a single solution.
To do justice to the varied nature of the cloud, I have listed the most relevant design and structure parameters: location of the data, accessibility (from where and by whom), level and nature of management services, tenancy of the infrastructure (single- or multi-tenant), etc. Within this model you can set the ‘sliders’ for all 13 variables, which always results in a totally different cloud landscape. This approach provides a sort of map pointing the way toward the ultimate cloud.
As a cloud supplier, we ensure that we satisfy a number of important certifications and standards, to which we commit ourselves in a proactive manner that focuses on the target group. When providing cloud services for a large bank for example, we regularly consult the Dutch Central Bank regarding the prevailing compliance requirements. That harmonization currently takes place annually or per quarter, but could also occur weekly, daily or in real time. All of this continues to be dynamic.
In the relationship with the same large bank, we have ultimately defined the ‘industrial core’, consisting of mainframes, appliances, systems and data that are fundamental for the organization’s core processes. Surrounding this, we increasingly see new types of services, with which you deliver entire customer-oriented applications and mobile apps with continuous delivery cycles. These two worlds must converge; however, they are based on different types of cloud services, in combinations that sometimes vary.
Thus, the current cloud landscape is in line with the bank’s current desires and requirements. Because these desires and requirements are subject to change, we are already developing multiple future scenarios. One of the possible next steps is to maintain the same service model – IaaS – on top of which we utilize a specific set of middleware products, but to relocate this to one of the IBM data centers within the EU. A hybrid cloud environment can also be relocated to the public cloud. Over time, just as for many other companies, we can move more and more of the ‘sliders’ to the right, but always based on insight into the nature and manageability of the selected landscape.