Cloud Computing: Waves

Technology tends to progress in cycles and contained in those cycles distinct waves of progress form. Cloud computing, the current "it" technology has been building like a storm for the past decade. Public, Private and Hybrid cloud computing offerings are leading the way for companies to expand their quest to get more for less. The focus here is to provide insight on how these waves can be grouped into interlinking stages: Migration, Adoption, Optimization, Transformation.

If you survey the landscape, you find more than a few different views of where the Cloud industry is and how it came to be here. Approach from a business perspective, you may see 4 waves focused around disruption. From a technologist's perspective, you see the iterative improvements yielded from engagement. Vendors and customers could even focus on the categorical offerings with each new one embraced as another wave. What is difficult to find is a universally agreed upon ways of defining what each of the waves of cloud are.  


This wave is easy. We do this morning, noon and night. Migration is the first hurdle that everyone needs to jump over. Here, concepts of the cloud begin to be answered and we move away from the conceptional understanding where we know by seeing our infrastructure estate. We are hands on every day and constantly struggle to not make a mistake and ensure we are running what we need.  When we first hear about the cloud it is hard not to feel like we are seeing a new religion for the first time. The belief and understanding of something new, something we can not put our hands on or see. Not to mention, it is provided by the chosen few who have studied at the mystical institutions that created the cloud. We see ourselves ready to take not just ourselves, but the organizations we work for and all souls who depend on it, into chaos and change based on this new belief. We are told we have to do this on faith. We are brave people.

In the migration wave, the tech savvy shine. This is no last ditch effort to eradicate Y2K by begging those 10 years into retirement to come save us. Migration is the reestablishment of your infrastructure into the cloud and depending what your role is can provide different experiences. If you are running the show and looking to develop your vision, the trip can feel like a game of Stratego. This change is going to alleviate headaches of modernization and capital amortization down the road. If your day to day is walking around in a parka only receiving light from blinking LEDs, you may have some sleepless nights here. Having an inquisitive mind and always looking to learn more, solve that problem, or discover what it is that got you here, will ensure you can walk away from this change stronger than before. The good part is you have started this journey and the only way is forward.  


Now the work begins. We can consider Migration as the Terrible 2’s with adoption as those fantastic years we spend dreaming of becoming adults. This second wave focuses on governance, execution, and evolving the organization. The Focus is on the complexities of developing and integrating existing in the cloud into environments that legacy workloads still might exist in. Adoption is the necessary gate that all must pass through and focuses on development of the tools an organization requires to work with the new cloud reality.  It is time for a journey through compulsory education.

This amazing wave can be similar to watching a child grow through their formative years. As a parent you’ve been there, know how it's done, and are able to set the example. But the path is not always easy for those caught in the middle of it. Here we see organizations learning to develop new roles, update existing practices, and build on their existing cultivated culture. This is where the last remaining roadblocks are removed and policies modernized at a large scale. Big picture visions are materialized. Quick wins are a, but like high school, with someone guiding you, the journey to walk across the stage is a lot less painful.


Development and Operations are the focus here. The understanding of adoption frameworks are in place and governance practices have begun to develop through targeted areas of the organization. The hard work is beginning to pay off and we are looking at taking our first responsible vacation after all of it. Here we see refined focus into newly developed areas and practices. We know what our spend is, we have updated our financial outlooks and right sized our expectations. Providing returns starts to enter focus for organizations alongside the goals to increase performance, gain deeper insight into operations, and reduce cost.

Concepts of automation and logging begin to gain traction organically within. Decisions on management of the infrastructure are further explored. Do we want to continue spending time on finessing the infrastructure? Or can we find a partner for these managed services and dig into what we do best? Data begins to become relevant for system understanding and pooled as a resource for use. Internet of Things provides knowledge models for deploying sensors and building the start of interaction with physical environments. An image of what we could be comes into view and we begin to refine the actions of current state and start the path to future state.


These are the areas that are beginning to emerge on to the scene and show companies and people where the real benefits of cloud computing can be gained. While in the optimization wave, organizations can reduce the price per hour of compute and enable more to run on less. The focus of transformation is that extra compute is targeted to actionable results. Companies that are able to tailor make services based on larger concepts such as machine learning and artificial intelligence are able to find opportunities where before the barriers of entry would be too extreme.

Advances in cloud computing concepts have enabled companies like Paperspace to develop a platform supplying targeted availability of machine learning access. They are able to provide their personal touch to simplify access to machine learning capabilities while relying on established cloud practices. Here we see not only the benefits and improvements from the initial replacement of technology, but in transformation, organizations are able to take forward steps to advance their capabilities, insights and strategies using the cloud as a tool. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are finding a growing sector where they and other specialized tools are able to become multipliers for the benefits of cloud computing.   

What Do We Do With This?

Each day, within our own organizations or while working with clients we find ourselves working within each of these different waves of the cloud. We have conversations when trying to identify where in the maturity model we see ourselves being. We take pride in describing ourselves as enablers, and when discussing the cloud we find ourselves using terminology and phrases intermixed with services and specialties we perform on a day-to-day basis.  These discussion we have, they add to our understanding and entice forward thoughts that keep us one step ahead. If we are able to provide clarity along with capability, the journeys we embark on with clients become easier to begin and move through. As always though, we are in the middle of this technology cycle and change is a constant. What we understand today may alter or evolve tomorrow. Keeping an open and inquisitive mind to start the conversation puts us ahead of the pack.

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