Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Cloud Computing and Corporate Karma

There are so many definitions of the word Karma. And, there are several types of karma – the good, the bad and ... wait a minute ... I haven’t heard about the ‘ugly’ karma.
The phrase Corporate Karma is also not new. There are numerous interpretations of it. There is even a movie by that name I think. To me, majority of the definitions of Corporate Karma seems to have a slightly negative overtone.
For the sake of this article, let’s assume Corporate Karma to be just a metric that tracks current activities and strategies of the enterprise and somehow impacts the future of a business. And let’s confine our focus to Corporate Karma accumulating at IT department.
There are two important questions now:
First how does one accumulate the bad Karma?
Any book on eastern philosophy will answer this question. Overconsumption, accumulation, waste, controlling others, glorifying oneself and not serving others.
Applying this to business, let’s see how a business accumulates karma. It does so, by
-          accumulating assets
-          over-consuming, wasting resources, energy and money
-          establishing control on methods, tools, people and processes
-          creating illusion of mystic aura around nerdy services
-          abusing the word ‘service’
Now, “how does one redeem the bad Karma?” would be our second question.
There are several methods to do so. Not surprisingly, the method that works for you is always unknown, and, seems like a moving target. So, every approach is equally good until you find something that actually works. Hence, it is not surprising to see many people offering different approaches. Even I want slip in one from my side – “Cloud Computing”
How so?
Through virtualisation, you can do more with less and hence won’t need many assets. Through SaaS you can rent software and avoid expensive recurring licenses. Through new pricing models, you will buy only what you actually need. As a result, you could reduce accumulation, spend and wastage.
That’s not all – cloud computing helps further. With the cloud technologies, you could transfer some of the control of your mystic IT to external service providers by aligning your methods and processes with theirs. Thus, you would become unified with the global whole – you are no more an island – your dot is connected with that of others ...
With cloud technologies, you would open up to your enterprise. IT is no more a mystic department hidden behind complex equipment. You become an interesting element of every department. You are no more a nerd or a geek – but just a buyer of services. And you can manage more than an awkward smile.
You will not be busy looking complex or fighting complex code or beastly machines. And slowly the word ‘service’ becomes your mantra.
Oy ... please come down to earth – you seem to be floating! Floating is prohibited. Health and Safety you know.
So, there you go. Cloud computing helps you not to waste resources, not to accumulate assets, to give up control and serve others.
If these won’t help redeeming bad karma, what else would?
Think ... think ... think ...
(Needless to say that this article should be taken lightly and not lightly at the same time!)

AppStores: Future of Enterprise Computing

Smart mobile phones such as Blackberry and Iphone introduced a user friendly approach to browse, select and download a variety of useful – free or otherwise. Now a similar model seems to be on the way for large enterprises, thanks to some recent development in cloud computing especially in the SaaS segment.
What is an Appstore?
In simple terms, an appstore is like a supermarket for applications. You enter one, browse around at intuitively stacked up apps, search for apps or perhaps seek help of online staff to help you pick an application that suits your need.
Just like in a supermarket, you can expect to see promotions of “features” applications, bargains, buyer guides and may be in future, price comparisons. That’s perhaps is a farfetched idea for now – in IT comparison of any two product seems to be similar to comparing apples with oranges.
Just like in the realworld, there is likely to be “buy readymade” or DIY appstores. As their names imply, you may buy what is on offer in the former model and build your own in the latter case. ASDA, M&S are analogous to the former and B&Q, IKEA to the latter.
What types of appstores can we expect?
Several types, actually. But I would say that there would be one appstore within each ‘buying environment’. So, within a large enterprise, there would be a global/regional appstores. Special consortiums of companies such as EADS and mega brands such as Virgin could have their own internal appstores. The Government will have its own appstores – some of them, such as defence, ring fenced for extra security. And, there will be many in the public domain. Major SaaS provider is likely to have one for each industry vertical.
How does an Appstore application work?
There could be a mixture of methods in the way these appstore applications work. Many are likely to run in a cloud based environment – such as a private cloud within the enterprise – or on trusted clouds hosted by SaaS providers.
As the inter-cloud-interfacing APIs and application interoperability matures, there will be applications hosted in one environment or cloud safely and reliably working with applications on other environments or clouds.
It is also possible to imagine meta-appstores which provide just an outer wrapper to other appstores.
Who fills and Appstore and How?
This is an ordinary looking extraordinary question. In the case of large enterprises, procurement department would control the appstore from commercial perspective. There is likely to be a “selection committee” which validates application characters in test environments against arguably tough entry criteria which would involve more non functional characteristics such as reliability, scalability, availability etc.
Vendor maintained appstores will be filled by vendors and their partners.
The process of stacking an appstore in this case is likely to be haphazard – with only a few applications being strategic from vendor perspective.
Enterprise appstores are filled largely based on business requirements.
How to choose applications from appstores?
It is neither an art nor a science. But careful consideration of techno-commercial properties of an application is needed. Certain applications may need ‘subscription’ to a service that runs elsewhere; an application, especially those chosen from a public source may be unreliable and potentially dangerous. Common sense and consultation are the two key things that should guide a user.
DIY Appstores
Some SaaS providers have developed appstores from which you can pick and choose software and service components and build your own situational business application – just like the way you work with Lego pieces. Some service providers like Cordys claim that a simple situational application could be assembled and published in under ten minutes! There would be no need for traditional software design or programming, but thorough testing is always a necessity.
Such applications could help meeting dynamic business requirements and promote agility, innovation at unprecedented low costs.
On the flipside, it could lead to proliferation of uncontrolled business applications over time within the enterprise. Staff turnover, poor configuration management and knowledge management practices will only add to the problem. To remedy this situation, the enterprise must strengthen application reuse and knowledge management practices.

In summary, appstores being in a new dimension into enterprise computing. They help providing an intuitive, controlled, on demand provisioning of IT. Customisable, componentised, DIY appstores bring agile, code free, DIY computing to the enterprise at a risk of application proliferation. They don’t simplify the enterprise IT architecture just yet. But they provide an interesting twist to IT delivery.