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Let's Get Cirrus About Cloud Computing

Rich Bruklis

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Kicking off

Welcome, and thanks for joining the discussion.

To briefly introduce myself, I work for IBM as a business management consultant. I handle a lot of the number-crunching, CFO-facing stuff. Basically, I'm called upon to do three things:

1. work directly with clients to develop business cases, chargeback models, and other stuff that involves working with spreadsheets (i.e., the junk that everyone else in IT spend their careers avoiding);
2. develop intellectual capital as part of IBM's Global Deployment Center; and
3. lead the global core team for the roughly 1,000 IBMers worldwide who comprise the IT Business Management community of practice.

Because of my misspent past -- my first career was in journalism -- the PWGPMTM (people who get paid more than me) asked me to start a blog about where business management processes intersect with the new "cloud" approach. Since they're not actually paying me to do it, though, and this is being done on my own time, they're going to have to live with the risk of Freedman being a loose cannon. I will make the bosses this one assurance: I won't write anything that will reflect negatively on IBM customers; if I have to cite a real-world example, I'll do everything I can to mask who it is I'm talking about.

So let's take a look at this intersection.

As for business management, I know exactly what that is: governance, alignment, costing, charging. I don't know too many companies that are doing it correctly, but I know what it is. (My experience is skewed, of course. The companies that do have a handle on it wouldn't be hiring consultants to help them, right?)

As for cloud, I don't know anything about it. Here's what one IBM document has to say about it:

Cloud is a synergistic fusion which accelerates business value across a wide variety of domains.

Huh?

Here's what I think it is: turning fixed costs into variable costs.

This has been around forever. "Cloud" is just a way of marketing it. I hope it works this time.

We used to call it "on-demand". We used to call it "the utility model". We still call some of it "application service provider". But it's all the same thing. Rather than buy all the components you need for your hardware, then construct a building that can provide all the power, pipe and ping you need to run those machines, then roll your own applications, you pay someone else to handle it for you.

Metaphorically: You don't own the utility grid anymore. Just the light switch.

This is not a new idea. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dismissive about it at all. I think it's great if we can get to it and I dedicate this blog to those of you who, through your comments and links, collaborate with me in making this space the home for all who'll be building business cases to support the cloud model at your own companies.

For an overview of what IBM is doing, click here: http://www.ibm.com/cloud/.

If you have any comments on what you see there, or here, please click the "Comment" button and let's talk it out.

I look forward to a fascinating conversation with you.

Warmest regards,

Bill Freedman
bfree@us.ibm.com

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A 20 year veteran of the storage industry, Rich has been a business leader in product marketing. He has seen the industry change from backup on 5.25" floppies to 10,000 cartridge tape libraries with every tape "standard" in between. Rich has supported 5.25" 30MB hard drives and launched disk arrays with hundreds of drives. Most recently, Rich has focused on business continuity and disaster recovery.

While the hardware industry continues to experience BBFC (Bigger, Better, Faster, Cheaper), there is a cloud on the horizon that is about to disrupt that trend. Cloud Computing will fundamentally change the IT world much like the network changed client-server computing.