As important as public cloud is to IT strategy in 2018, I’m amazed how overly focused we are in industry on the traditional IT definition of public cloud, and how little attention is paid to the view of “cloud as an innovation platform.” To channel ancient Chinese philosophers, I see a real yin and yang in the oneness of public cloud. For a wonderful analysis of the duality of public cloud, I recommend checking out Gartner’s paper on Best Practices in Planning a Cloud IaaS Strategy, authored by Lydia Leong.
The cloud presents compelling opportunities for plan-driven, traditional Federal government CIOs (the yin view) wanting to rigorously manage and govern their IT portfolios. CIOs who have gotten their arms around their data centers and IT operations think of public cloud as limitless compute, storage and network capacity. In establishing their hybrid IT strategies, these CIOs see public cloud as a means to avoid technology refreshes; cleverly address disaster recovery needs; deal with seasonal surge demand; and quickly spin up sandboxes.
These CIOs look for cost predictability and lower rates. They tend to be HQ-based IT portfolio management executives, serving their CxO customers. And they value predictability, rigor, stability and financial optimization. They look at public cloud as incremental change along a continuum, and as another version of the private clouds they have implemented on premise. While seeking order and predictability, they find themselves dealing with an agile tsunami in which AppDev teams with strong DevOps and cloud chops are pressuring them for continuous deployments and leveraging public cloud platform services that are not in their approved service catalog.
We are also seeing the emergence of a new type of CIO: Let’s call them “Mission CIOs.” Mission CIOs (the yang view) are deeply entrenched with their mission owners and are personally committed to mission success. They are on the hook to deliver digital transformation and tend to think in terms of DevOps, everything-as-code, automation, and building solutions based on Lean Startup principles. They may have an Apps background and see the cloud as not only endless infrastructure, but a platform of innovative services and middleware that can be rapidly assembled to solve mission problems.
Mission CIOs look at higher order platform services like managed CI/CD pipelines; AI solutions for speech recognition; image and video analytics; platforms designed to accelerate machine learning; globally replicated databases; enterprise class container management platforms; and function-as-a-service platforms as low-cost, inherently scalable Lego blocks to be assembled quickly to solve real-world problems. The Mission CIO sees the cloud as a staggering opportunity to easily access and consume leading edge technology to deliver digital solutions.
At Unisys Federal have forward leaning clients fitting this yang “Mission CIO” profile. We’ve supported a recent specific Lean Startup scenario where we teamed with a client to deploy and test multiple biometric modalities, measure outcomes and pivot on a mission-critical program using both Agile development principles AND cloud native platforms. The influence of Lean thinking and Silicon Valley emerging tech is real within federal agencies and is only increasing. Cloud is being embraced as an innovation engine that unshackles teams from heavyweight processes, promoting rapid learning and development to meet the mission objectives and deliver transformative outcomes for our citizens and/or Warfighters.
Organizations adopting cloud should recognize both the yin and yang aspects of public cloud and should plan accordingly. As we prepare to launch our CloudForte™ cloud management innovative solution with AWS, we believe we cater to both the yin and yang perspectives by harnessing the oneness of public cloud. Our CloudForte capabilities are based on the tenets of DevOps, everything-as-code and security by design. We support the Mission CIOs by implementing a lightweight, highly automated governance framework that assures continuous security compliance while not adding undue process weight. We support the traditional CIO by offering cost-effective management of enterprise IT Ops—and helping them incrementally cope with their Agile/DevOps tsunami and harness cloud platform services while enforcing their governance and security policies. At Unisys, we are committed to helping clients on their cloud journey go fast, securely.