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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Ric Telford, Vice President Of Cloud Services, IBM (Part 6)

Posted on Monday, Aug 23rd 2010

By Sramana Mitra, Pablo Chacin and Saurabh Mallik

SM: I suppose you believe that the advent of cloud computing has been democratizing those small enterprises and their access to technology?

RT: What I believe is that for small companies that have IT, what the cloud enables them to do is have a strategy of not being forces to use some of their resources to hire IT people.

Small businesses do want to not be in the IT businesses. I have a cousin who works for a small law firm. I asked him what was he doing. He said, I am a paralegal, but I spend 50% of my time being a paralegal and 50% of my time being an e-mail administrator because somebody has to do it and keep the servers running, and for small companies. It just doesn’t make sense to have to use your people and labor for their IT skills. The cloud, for smaller companies, is about getting out of the IT business. For the enterprise, it is about delivering more value to end users.

SM: So, if you were able to roll up everything you have said so far and give me a sense of the adoption of cloud computing in the various enterprises that you work with, is there a way to put up a percentage or a metric on the adoption – say, 25% of the functions are going to the cloud. How do you see that progressing?

RT: It’s very hard to assign a metric like that. Maybe somebody’s done it. I can’t pinpoint a number off the top of my head. I can give you a couple of anecdotes. In some of the work we have done inside IBM and with some of our clients, if you think about the enterprise, the totality of all the services that an IT shop provides, we can get to an exact number. There are at least 4,000 if not more unique workloads in the IT services that an organization delivers. Of those, we have broken them down by tier, where tier 1 is mission-critical type services, and then down to tier 2, tier 3, tier 4. What we are doing is the mission-critical tier 1, and even tier 2, and by volume these make up only about 20%–30% of workloads that are delivered. Tier 1 is no more than 5%–10%. True mission-critical systems are a tiny fraction of that. So, tier 1 and tier 2 we are leaving alone; we are not even looking at those for the cloud. Tiers 3 and 4, which make up the rest of the 60%–80% are where we look to the cloud delivery model. A lot of tier 4 is, for example, an application for a small business unit. They don’t have a lot of data interconnections to a lot of other systems; thus, they move well to the cloud. We do a sort of the workload approach. Tiers 3 and 4 are what we call cloud amenable, or ready to move to the cloud. We are going through that analysis right now.

What I generally say is that the goal would be to move half of those workloads. So, to net all of this out, in a general model based on a few customer anecdotes, and the general IBM case, you are looking to move 30% of the things that you do day today into the cloud. And 30%–40% of what you would put on the road map, and 20%–40% that you don’t need to even focus on right now. That’s because they are mission critical, and it’s the sort of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” model. If it’s mission critical and has a highly regulated aspect to it or is auditable, you don’t want to touch those systems, but for the other 60%–80%, there is hope to find up to half to be ready to move into the cloud.

SM: This distribution that you referred to, do you think this is a good proxy for all enterprises?

RT: Well, that’s what we are testing. We have done a number of engagements now, and there are a number of engagements that we are gathering data now, and we are trying to see how generalized this data can be.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Ric Telford, Vice President Of Cloud Services, IBM
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