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Cloud First or Company First?

September 10, 2020

Possible Solution: HPE Cloud Volumes

By Paul O’Dell, Director and Partner at CPP Associates

I think my kids have a newfound respect for me. Or possibly, they think that I am going crazy. (Sometimes I’m not sure.) In this COVID-19 world, they have heard me have the same discussion repeatedly.  It’s usually not centered around the “what’s important” for any particular brand or methodology of delivering IT applications, but focuses on “what’s right” for the organization or company.

The concept of “cloud first” vs. “company first” has been one of the most interesting discussions I’ve encountered recently.  Would any organization actually make a move that had enormous impact on the way it operates if it were not 100% in its best interest to do so? The answer is YES, but perhaps not knowingly.

I like to tell stories. Here is one I made up that serves as an interesting analogy.

What if you are a manufacturer of widgets? You decide to follow a popular trend and move all of your manufacturing to Asia.  Your friends and trusted consultants tell you that that Asia is the best place in the world to build widgets.  You and your board of directors decide its the right direction to be competitive. It will allow you to manufacture faster and sell your widgets faster. The best thing is that you don’t have to worry about the factory itself. That is someone else’s problem!

Done. You are going to build widgets in Asia. You sign up the best consultants in the world. Retrofit all of your Gizmos and Whatchamacallits that make the widgets work in the new factory. It’s a big effort but worth it. “The best thing since sliced bread,” as you were told by a friend.

The move is complete. It costs a lot of money but it’s worth it. And now you’re operating there.  Your company looks entirely different. You have new employees that know all about the retrofitted way your product is made, but unfortunately, you had to let go of many of the people that made your company successful in the first place, losting a lot of institutional knowledge along the way. Hey, it’s the cost of being the best. All my friends tell me that.

You are now operating in Asia, but you notice a funny thing after a month or two. Your operating costs aren’t getting smaller – they are getting bigger. Wow! There must be something wrong. Let me get the team that retrofitted the gizmo makers back here and do some fine-tuning.  It doesn’t matter. You notice the cost of some of the components in the manufacturing process may be cheaper in Asia but other parts of the manufacturing process aren’t. And because of necessary regulations and compliance, a number of wizbangs and huzmawigs were required to make it effective for your business to operate. Lastly, shipping the product back to the US cost ten times more than anticipated. ”Wow! I never looked at that. How did I get into this mess?” you say to yourself.

You quickly do the math and see the grim reality. If this continues, you would have spent roughly 50% more over five years manufacturing in Asia, instead of investing in the latest technologies and optimizing your manufacturing process here!

You say to yourself, “Okay, how do I roll back from this?”  Great question. You call the retrofitters and they say, “Roll back. No way! Double down.” So you think, “I’ll have to call someone else. How do I get out of this mess?”  You finally find someone who tells you about Data Gravity. Data Gravity is based on a Newtonian Concept.  It essentially states that the larger a mass is, the more difficult it is to move. In other words, you are in a whole world of hurt and expense if you want to move your manufacturing back to the U.S. You are stuck unless you want to pay an enormous tax (egress) to get out. Tough situation! You regret not listening to the production line manager who worked with you for 30 years and knew more about the widgets and how they were made than anyone in the world.

I don’t think it takes Einstein or Newton to figure out that this is a scenario where an organization, sparked by its leadership, followed the whizbang approach of “cloud first”  instead of a “company first” attitude. The leadership just wanted the ability to provide better widgets and gizmos your customers in a way that led to more sales and lower costs.   They got caught up in a wave and paid a dear price.

Company first not Cloud First. Cloud is a tool, just another widget and not a way of doing business.

Back to reality now.

What I described is the gravest of situations. However, I have seen similar decisions with many of the customers I talk with.  They find themselves in situations where the math just doesn’t make sense but yet, they take the journey anyway. (I am not sure they do their math in the first place.) They move to a new way of delivering apps and damn it – it’s going to be better!

Recently I had a customer ask me about changing their app delivery model.  She said to me, “I have a friend who told me they moved everything to the cloud. And if they did it, it must be the right thing to do. Right?”  I said it might be if they have a global distributed organization, variable workloads (COVID-19 created the mother of all variable workloads, by the way), apps born a certain way, or even if they only needed to use the apps every so often. Then, that could very well make sense.

I asked more about their business model.  She told me they were one of the largest IT consultancies in the world. This made me wonder if they actually did the math for themselves or did they just say, “Let’s do this and tell all our clients we did it, so you should too! Let us provide you with all the whizbang and whatchamacallit services to show you how!”

Even more reality…

What if your preferred Hyperscale Cloud provider offered you the following?

  • Lowest Cost Per GB on Tier 1 storage
    • 6 Nines availability instead of 3 or 4 (That’s 32 seconds of unplanned downtime instead 8 hours and 46 minutes per year)
    • Ability to use snaps and clones without penalty
    • Ability to increase performance and capacity independently
  • No Data Gravity. The ability to move your data between Cloud providers or back into your factory without penalty if you aren’t happy with a service or if business conditions change and you need to run your business a different way.

This is NOT AWS, folks.  CPP and HPE are offering this NOW.

And the good news?  You don’t change your operating model at all. You can use AWS/Azure/Google for compute and simply point to HPE Cloud Volumes. It’s slightly more complicated. In full disclosure, takes 5 minutes instead of just one point and click. The services are the same no matter which cloud vendor you use and no matter where you are in the world.

Your end users get the utility-like services that they expect. It works and it’s fast. However, the organization receives the benefits of Tier 1 storage and man-o-man, NO EGRESS charges! In addition, CPP has the ability to demonstrate cloud volumes and offer free proof of concepts for interested and qualified customers.

Read more about our thoughts on Egress Charges here.

For those who know me – my stories are always based on reality.  Please reach out if you would like to know more – or just hear more.

I promise that I will always put your company first. My company will always do the right thing, even if it means walking away or recommending a solution that we don’t sell. It’s a big world. And its spins. Our mission is to put positive energy out and know it will come back to us.

Time for me to lay back down on the couch. My kids have the watch.  It’s a strange world…

Join the team at CPP Associates on September 17 from 6 – 7 pm  for an informative discussion about this innovative approach to serving data in the clouds.  We welcome Dianne Gonzales, HPE SME on Cloud Volumes, as our guest speaker.  Register here.


Paul O’Dell, Director and Partner at CPP Associates

Paul O’Dell is responsible for sales at CPP Associates. He has helped CPP expand its marketing capabilities and has been instrumental in developing CPP’s Infrastructure Anywhere Assessment approach.

CPP Associates is a Consultancy that specializes in helping customers with Infrastructure, Security, Data Intelligence, and Managed Services in a Hybrid World.  They currently sell solutions from HPE, AWS, Vmware, and Azure as well as many other vendors.