Posts Tagged ‘Service Provider’

Accents and the language of cloud.


I have always had a fascination with language, have studied several, and am always fascinated by the regional dialect or accent of places I visit.  But accents, and language in general, can be a funny thing.

Language continues to evolve, as do accents … I’m as amused to read the use of ‘bespoke‘ to describe bagels and ‘fortnight‘ to denote a period of time in American periodicals such as the New York Times, given these words weren’t widely used by Americans not more than ten years ago  …as I am to listen to my seventeen year old niece and her friends, born and raised in Edgware/Mill Hill both northwest London suburbs, use ‘like‘ as every other word in a sentence and ending the sentence with a rising inflection such that virtually every sentence is no longer a declarative statement but, rather, sounds much like a question.  Like, ya know?

I meet frequently with vendor partners, customers, potential vendor partners, analysts, et  al and, this week I met with a potential vendor partner where I got one of my three favourite ‘frequently asked questions’ when someone is meeting me for the first time.

After introducing myself … ‘Hello, I’m Matthew Yeager, Practice Leader for Data Storage & Protection with Computacenter. How are you?’ I was met with …

‘But …I thought you were American?’

‘Yes, I was born in the United States and have lived here for over ten years … I’m married to a woman born and raised in north London, my son was born here, and of my friends, colleagues, and contacts not one of them is from the USA. The United Kingdom is my adopted home.’

Now, this isn’t by design nor was it a conscious decision, it is just how it evolved over the past ten years.  During this evolution I will admit that my accent has flattened and my sympathetic ear has caused my speech to evolve such that I am sometimes asked, ‘But aren’t you [insert expected/anticipated nationality …American/Canadian/Irish/Other]?’

When my father came from his home in Dallas, Texas to London for Mrs. PL and my wedding he did remark, ‘I’m fascinated, your accent seem to be shifting towards London,’ I remarked that I didn’t think I had an accent … I was just pronouncing all of the syllables and calling the herbs not ‘erbs which is what the good people here tell me one should do.

Thankfully he saw the humour and we had a good laugh.

For the record, I’m not trying to sound like anyone other than me … and accents shift all the time, I’m afraid.  Although the mind boggles at just how Steve McClaren shifted to first Dutch when the manager at FC Twente and, now that he is manager of German side Wolfsburg …has he shifted again to German?

But I digress.

I have friends who emigrated from America to live in Israel and, when speaking English, now have a definitive ‘Israeli’ accent.  I also have friends, born and bred in the UK, who after having moved to the USA and after only a few years have begun developing broad mid-Atlantic accents and using words like ‘cell phone’ and *gasp* ‘soccer’.

If you listen to the Queen, Her Majesty doesn’t sound anything today like what she used to not thirty or so years ago.  Indeed, when is the last time you heard a BBC reporter or news reader use RP.

What’s this got to do with Data Storage and Protection?

Our customers and indeed the technology market have demanded that we evolve our language, to speak more of the business benefits of technology and how our solutions will help them align data to business value.

Equally, Mrs. PL often tells me that there is a stark difference between listening to someone and hearing them …this is usually just prior to my taking the hint and closing the laptop lid whilst we discuss the day’s goings on and PL Junior’s day at school.

It was with these points firmly in mind that I began reading a very interesting press release on Tuesday last, 29 June 2010, which reported that EMC was closing down its Atmos online storage company.  What?  The world’s largest storage vendor is closing down their cloud storage offering …but weren’t we led to believe the great saviour of all things technical …the vaunted cloud …was the natural evolution of storage?!

Not so fast.  I’m joking a bit as it always amuses me how quickly hyperbole enters any conversation regarding technology, but there may be some clues as to what is really going on here in the actual statement placed on the Atmos website.

“We are no longer planning to support production usage of Atmos Online.  Going forward, Atmos Online will remain available strictly as a development environment to foster adoption of Atmos technology and Atmos cloud services offered by our continuously expanding range of Service Provider partners who offer production services [emphasis mine].  We will no longer be offering paid subscription or support for Atmos Online services.  Any existing production accounts will not be billed either for past or future usage.   We will also no longer provide any SLA or other availability commitment.  As a result, we strongly encourage that you migrate any critical data or production workloads currently served via Atmos Online to one of our partners offering Atmos based services.”

The emergence of the federated service provider model.

I think that this is a perfect example of what is happening today within technology generally and data storage offerings specifically; our customers encourage/insist/demand that we evolve offerings and the way in which data storage is consumed to help them align data to business value, so providers emerge with the advent of the whole new language of ‘cloud’.

But the adoption of cloud has been much slower than the cloud providers would like, with some providers such as Atmos shutting up shop altogether.  And being a cloud provider and service provider are two very different things.

Why?  I think there are a few reasons, but possibly the largest is that in actuality, one could argue …and I often do …that customers weren’t looking for a new language but, rather the evolution of language …a different ‘accent’, if you will.

Indeed, I would pose that what we are witnessing is not so much the emergence of cloud storage or ‘everything as a service’ …we are witnessing the emergence of a federated service provider model.

I’ll talk more about what I think a federated service provider model might look like next week, but a few reasons why cloud storage adoption has been slower than anticipated by cloud providers.

1. What is the cost benefit of placing data in the cloud?

This is probably the biggest reason that cloud adoption for storage has been slow, in my opinion.  Search just about any cloud storage provider’s website and I challenge you to find any statements, calculators, or baseline data which shows what the average cost of storing data for a customer onsite would be versus storing the data in the cloud.  Yes, I’m fully aware that ‘your mileage may vary’ and each customer will be different …but we as an industry need to give our customers real CBA [Cost Benefit Analysis] and TCO [Total Cost of Ownership] data both from our labs and from the field to help them efficiently calculate what the cost savings would be over a five year period when transitioning data from locally held to cloud.  Given the analyst statistics purporting that only roughly 25% of technology assets are likely to be owned by customers outright by 2030, one would think that the prize would be great in helping customers understand these calculations.  Watch this space as we are actively developing these very tools within Computacenter.

2. We’re not really placing data in the cloud are we …isn’t it more like workloads?

This can get somewhat complicated so I’ll go a bit deeper on this in the next Weekly View but, put simply, we can’t just say we’re putting data in the cloud.  We must understand that this data is part of an existing customer workload …which includes compute, network connectivity, application, possibly a hypervisor, recovery time objective/recovery point objective, cost, and so on.  In other words, attributes which must be taken into consideration prior to any consideration of placing the workload in the cloud …or anywhere else for that matter.

3. Help me understand which workloads are applicable for cloud adoption.

All workloads aren’t created equal and each will have different characteristics, as I’ve just described, as well as a different cost or value to the customer business.  Whilst some of the cloud storage providers have become a bit better at publishing how, exactly, their offerings can be consumed by customers I still feel that we could do better as an industry in helping to provide customers with tools and/or collateral which helps them determine which workloads could be migrated to the cloud to offer lower cost without a degradation in performance or service …and define what their workloads look like today.  This is, in my humble opinion, the role of a service provider and exactly where service and solutions providers such as Computacenter fit in.

4. What about security?

Admittedly government mandates and related legalities meant to govern data protection and security remain a bit confusing …I say a bit, learning a new language altogether is often less confusing and time consuming …but security is not an attribute which can be ignored.  But just what is meant by data security?  Does this mean where the data is held, the physical security attributes of the service provider datacentre, data encryption …and is that encryption at the host, from host to provider, throughout the entire stream …all of the above?  This can get very complicated quite quickly, but my belief is that understanding how to solve this issue starts with workload definition as discussed in point three above.

5. How would I use cloud based storage with what I have today?

Too often I have seen cloud storage offerings and ‘anything as a service’ offerings pitched as zero sum all or nothing propositions.  But it needn’t be so, and this is the core of my belief in a federated service provider model …helping the customer to understand how and when to consume external service provider offerings such as cloud and how to use these offerings in conjunction with their existing IT.

But we’ll talk more about that next week.

Until then, have a great week and if we can’t truly enjoy the World Cup now that England are out …perhaps we can enjoy the glorious sunshine we’ve been gifted instead!

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