Bye bye VDI? See you, EUC? Was 2013 was the LAST year of VDI?

rip-tombstone-hiIn my skim across the interwebs today, especially seeing how BASF in Germany are deploying 112,000 employees on Office 365 in the cloud, a thought struck me: has VDI had it’s day?  Some of us have been doing it for over 10 years.  TEN YEARS.  It has always been a hack to solve a number of problems caused by people trying to use Microsoft Windows and Windows-based applications in scenarios that are very un-Personal Computer.  Windows was designed to be installed locally and accesses locally.  Let’s not go into all the whys-and-wherefores of VDI, that’s old history.

Consider this piece as a tapas food for thought.  I’m not presenting deep research, but I am seeking to kick off a meme….

We have a maturing kid on the block, called Cloud, and it might just shove VDI (or End User Compute, or whatever marketing name you want) to the side.  Why?  Because it solves the original problem!  You run your apps, data, identities and everything else in a cloud (public, partner, private, or combo) and then just give a nice dumb connection to that cloud… or a rich one even… but you don’t need all the VDI expense in between.

What you need these days is a cloud back end (like BASF chose Microsoft Office 365) and then access management with things variously named as Enterprise Mobility Management.  But you don’t need all the VDI/EUC fat in your DC.  That massive VDI-optimised Vblock / FlexPod or whatever Storage device it is… Monday morning boot storms etc… gone.

Cloud and Mobility is removing the love handles of IT, and that is great news for customers!

This has huge implications for the industry that have developed solutions to solve the problems that VDI/EUC created (yes, like coding when you fix a bit of code you create more problems, well the VDI/EUC solution created further problems in identity, storage, network and more).  Any company that has VDI or EUC as a core revenue strategy might be a worry, but I’m sure they have smart enough people to have avoided the cloud iceberg that is about to sink their VDI/EUC Titanic.

It’s worth doing a little more digging on this…. see what the community thinks…

Deming’s 14 Points

Steve Chambers:

No matter what business you are in, no matter what your role is, these points apply to us all.

Originally posted on Systems Thinking, Lean and Kanban:

W. Edwards Deming’s 14 points are the basis for transformation of industry. Adoption and action on the 14 points are a signal that the management intend to stay in business. aim to protect investors and jobs. Such a system formed the basis for lessons for top management in Japan in 1950 and in subsequent years.

The 14 points apply anywhere, to small organisations as well as to large ones, to the service industry as well as to manufacturing. They equally apply to any division within a company and to it’s suppliers.

As you read through each of the 14 points below, ask yourself if they still apply today, either within your current organisation, or within organisations you have recently worked for. The answers may be surprising.

1. Constancy of purpose:

Create constancy of purpose toward continual improvement of product and service, with a plan to become competitive and to stay…

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How the perfect storm cloud impacts five IT roles

Cloud perfect storm


Is cloud causing a perfect storm that will have a dramatic effect on IT jobs?

What are the symptoms, and what jobs are impacted?

If the last decade of 2000-2010 was all about virtualisation, then this decade is all about public, hybrid and private clouds.  Both trends have an impact on the IT jobs landscape, but my experience and viewpoint tells me that the clouds are going to have a dramatic effect on the IT job landscape.

Many commentators are already stating that the future for on-premise IT is uncertain, and certainly in decline.  That is going to have a direct impact on jobs.

First of all, workloads are moving to clouds meaning there is less for everyone else to do.  If I run my enterprise workloads (or whatever) on Google, and I just need a couple of software administrators to manage the SaaS apps – why do I need all those network engs, DBAs, and all the others?  In fact, if I can get the app users to admin their own apps then what happens to the traditional central IT functions?

Secondly, these “web scale” cloud operators run IT better than enterprises.  This is *without question*.  They have better availability, better security, better everything than your average IT shop.  I recently read the Kelly Review in to the Co-operative Bank debacle: go get it and start at page 54 on the IT transformation project.  The examples of bad practice are seen in many IT shops around the world.  If you ran a public cloud like this, it would fail.  Ergo, successful public clouds do not have these bad practices and they are fundamentally better places to run your workloads for most people, whether old stuff or cloud-native new stuff.

Thirdly, as traditional skills decline there is a need for new skills.  Rather than know how to operate a HP Server’s KVM, now you need to know how to operate the Azure console.  Instead of drawing up Visios for how this port connects to that port, now you need a more agile method for documenting how this application interfaces with that API.  Instead of writing word documents for manual configurations, now you put your Powershell automation scripts into GIT and have them self-document.

Clouds.  Software.  APIs.  These are the things that people need to grok.

The impact is going to be seen that enterprises need to change their IT org to reflect this new reality.  Not everyone can repeat or mirror what AWS, Microsoft, Facebook and Netflix do.  But you don’t have to, because you can use their services and they do it for you.  All you need to do is change your IT org to interface to these providers.

So you need some cloud consumers, architects who can glue the services together, with a preference for using PaaS for all new projects and using cloud-based SaaS apps like Office 365 online instead of a 9 month project to install Sharepoint and everything else on-premise.

Change is coming faster and faster so if you’re an IT guy, plying your trade installing software and glueing stuff together you better start on your journey for being a cloud administrator.  This will affect at least five major roles:

  1. Systems integrators and outsourcers – they already now focus on cloud because the old SI and SO contracts are a shrinking, low-margin business.
  2. Certifications – trainers, certification programmes of vendors.  There is less to certify on, and it is less complex.
  3. Recruiters – if there are less roles, and less variance…
  4. Vendors – we are already seeing shrinking server and network sales, and large companies like EMC are software appliance-izing all their products and consolidating under one software API.  Vendors are already not only losing deals to cloud, but they are not even being invited!
  5. Traditional administrators – the old days of documentation and manual configurations are going, and there’s less and less IT to manage, replaced by cloud interfaces.

Private cloud is mostly, today, a last gasp attempt for tradition IT folks to keep their jobs but there is a new type of private cloud coming that HAS to be deployed in the same manner as public cloud – it won’t need IT folks who want to customise it.  So even that method of avoiding change will soon be closed.

If an organisation decides all of the above is not true, not happening, or is not relevant to them (perhaps a large financial institution?) and they continue as-is, I can’t help feel that it’s a denial position and not in the best interests of their business.  The resistance to cloud is being eroded, even hedge funds are turning their face to the cloud to save millions.


The Cloud and Infrastructure Management Conundrum

The most awesome Mark Thiele recently posted a debate-provoking post about the direction that OpenStack might go in, title OpenStack – the future of Cloud & Infrastructure Management.  My contribution to the debate, as posted as a comment on Mark’s blog, is that I don’t think it will happen (but it’s not all down to OpenStack’s challenges!).

To summarise I think this is a problem that is too hard for just one solution to dominate.  There are too many competing factions, technology changes at a rapid pace, and that when you add this to OpenStack’s apparent trajectory towards a fractured ecosystem with HP, Redhat and others all tugging and pulling in their own directions… it just seems too difficult.  I could be wrong!

I’ve been living with the “Cloud and Infrastructure Management Conundrum” for a long time now, both as a vendor of cloud technology and as a cloud service provider in my role as Canopy Cloud CTO.  This is a tough problem to solve.  Some, like CSC and Dell, attempt to solve this by buying great technology in this space (ServiceMesh and Enstratius respectively).  Others are combining leading business, operations, infrastructure and application automation into a pluggable “cloud fabric” to solve the problem.  Both approaches have challenges.

I tried to draw up an image that I have in my head, the problem space is in the middle with the UX/UI/API layer – if you have a rich portfolio of infrastructure, applications and services then it is unlikely one product (like OpenStack) can fill this role.  If you have a large number of complex clients with different demands, this is also unlikely to be met by one product.  As usual, the more variety the more complex the problem.  IE – the more boxes and complexity around the middle box, then the harder it is for a simple solution to solve it.  You can probably only, as a CSP, control what is in this middle box.  You can choose to not add complexity (clients or technology) and that is a business decision.

And here’s the rub: complexity is INCREASING not decreasing.  Customers are asking more and more of the cloud (don’t just run web apps, run my SAP!), and infrastructure tech is changing at rapid pace (SDx).  Therefore, one should assume IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE ONE PRODUCT TO RULE THEM ALL.

Anyhoo, it’s just my warped opinion but thought I’d write it down anyways.  Tell me if I’m wrong! (It does happen from time to time).

Cloud Management Conundrum.001

Every cloud consumer needs their own Wolf

The Wolf from Pulp Fiction

The Wolf from Pulp Fiction

Ah.  The good old days.  Remember them?  When workloads were static.  Developers developed in waterfalls of treacle.  And IT cleaned up… eventually?  There was this archaic practice called Capacity Management.


This is the era of “shared responsibility”, which means (apologies for the pejorative) “One must wipe one’s own bottom.”  If you don’t wipe your own bottom then you will get a rash.  That rash will manifest itself in the cloud as an out of control bill.  Therefore, the people who use your corporate cloud bill better know how to keep things clean by turning off things they don’t use.  The service provider is happy for you to not turn things off.

Typical humans: you give them lots of control to consume compute, storage, networks, and all that agile loveliness and how do they repay you?  By leaving the heating on all day with the windows open.

So, you need a Wolf to clean up the carcasses left by the development team or YOU WILL think the cloud is expensive when it actually isn’t.  It’s bad practice that costs money, not the cloud.  Perhaps you could think of your developers as talented and gifted teenagers that need some supervision (but please don’t get in the way of their creativity) then you know you need a Bad Ass to clean up after them,  It’s a necessary cost.  But what actually is it?

Read this great post from the Ravello Devops folks.  They instituted an automated process for implementating a policy.  ie. they said these are the rules, and The Wolf is a program that implements the rules with no exceptions.  A snippet:

The Ravello Cloud Cleaner is a job that runs once per hour and removes all instances that have been alive for more than six hours. This means that no machine can be live for more than 6 hours, unless it is intentionally tagged to prevent this using a different utility. The Cleaner also removes any orphaned volumes, meaning they have been alive for an hour or more and are not attached to any machines.

Sometimes people do this manually – ie. at the end of the day, they look at all the resources in play and decide what to turn off.  I think that’s a bad idea.  People can’t govern people, we all know that.  Computers have to govern people.  Ravello are an example of a company that has got it right.

I don’t think anyone has tried using a real wolf in the office, but I think that might also keep developers on their toes.

In 7 minutes, don’t get fatter get fitter and get better not bitter

I’m lucky to have some inspiring friends across the world that it’s a synch to keep in touch with (thanks twitter and fb!), and one of the common themes I’m seeing with my fellow forty-somethings is a penchant for fitness. Even this guy is at it (check out the budgie smugglers!)

“But,” I ask myself, “is this a case of Facebook is where you tell lies to your friends, and Twitter is where you tell the truth to strangers?”  Who cares?! I merrily skip past this because people I meet regularly in the arena of Real Life also have the fitness bug.  I have friends who ran the marathon this year for the first time, as they hit 40; I have friends doing crazy Wolf Running events on muddy hills for the first time.  These are people who were experts at drinking alcohol and eating kebabs to excess just a few years ago.  I’m impressed, and inspired.

Like them, and probably you Dear Reader, I have a life full of work and travel and I’m not time-blessed so any exercise (a) I can do anywhere (b) with no equipment and (c) in less that thirty minutes is going to be a winner for me.  And here’s a great example: The Scientific 7-Minute Workout.

In 12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science.


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