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Change “the Change”?

I’ve made up a little story.

The story is fictious. Characters in the story are fictious. Any resemblance to any existing persons are purely in the reader’s mind. Any resemblance with your company’s processes are mere coincidence.

Change?

Is it the process or is it communication?

Characters:

  • George: a very helpful infrastructure project manager located somewhere in Europe
  • Francis: an application manager located somewhere else in Europe
  • Olaf: an even more helpful datacenter operator geographically close to George
  • Dakshi: a very talented cloud operations engineer in/from India
  • Hans: a knowledgable senior cloud technician, European
  • Bob: the senior architect for infrastructure engineering (US)
  • Eveyln: the infrastructure engineering project manager (US, close to Bob)
  • cloud-team.operations@company.com: a support mailbox

On Feb, 4th Francis writes:

Hi Hans, Dakshi,

I currently have an issue you’ll probably able to solve easily.

Our company has signed a deal with a European government’s ministry to host an instance of our social enterprise application. For obvious reasons, that instance needs to be hosted in the customer’s country (not in our cloud)

As this project has a very tight schedule, and to be sure we can deliver in time, I need a dump of a few virtual machines from our existing V2 implementation so we can import them on our local VMWare infrastructure.

Machines needed are:

  • webserver01
  • dbserver01
  • accesssrv01
  • worker01
  • viewer01

I’m not sure what would be the best and fastest way to transfer them. A network transfer may be too long so maybe we can use a hard drive sent to us by UPS as we did for earlier transfers across the ocean.

I hope we can do this very quickly as the schedule is very tight, and I’m a bit late due to the time spent trying to fix the current V1 issues.

Best regards,

Francis


Let us briefly elaborate on the geographical circumstances of this request:

  • The datacenter running the V1 and V2 versions of the application under question is located in Europe
  • The customer is located in a different European country from the datacenter
  • The DC operations team is located in India

Dakshi is a very talented and quick operations guy, who picks up the request just 5 minutes later and responds willingly to export the requested VMs but being in need of a contact geographically close to the cloud DC to x-plug (and deliver) a USB harddisk . For this he redirects to Hans. Hans is known to know virtually everything which in certain organizations sometime means that Hans would be the one also doing everything – not so here: Hans redirects to George. George is a project manager located close to and responsible for activities in the DC in question, hence supposed to be best choice to coordinate the HDD x-plug and delivery process.

* FULLSTOP *


On Feb, 13th Francis writes:

Hi George,

I’m Francis, in charge of our social enterprise application. We’ve been working with our cloud team on the company’s “DriveSocial” project (V1 and V2). I’m writing to you on behalf of Hans. Our company has signed a deal with a local government’s ministry to host an instance of our social enterprise application. For obvious reasons, that instance needs to be hosted in the customer’s country.

As this project has a very tight schedule, and to be sure we can deliver in time, I need a dump of a few virtual machines from our application’s V2 implementation so we can import them on our local VMWare infrastructure.

Machines are:

  • webserver01
  • dbserver01
  • accesssrv01
  • worker01
  • viewer01

Can you please have them dumped and sent on a hard drive to:

DC1GER – Markus Verdinger, Sackstrasse 240, 99999 Praiss, Germany

The latest snapshot of the virtual machines, even though from last week would be perfect.

Thank you very much in advance,

Francis


A few minutes later the same day, Hans (in a supportive manner) shares a diagram of the V2 implementation with everybody; included is a detailed directive how to discover the right VMs within the “complicated jungle” of virtual organizations and virtual appliances [2(!) ORGs; 5(!) vApps].

George, the project manager and always eager to exactly specify the right activities, now kicks off a conversation about which server to plug the harddisk into – which ultimately involves Bob, the infrastructure architect.

On Feb, 13th Bob writes clarifyingly:

George,

They are looking for physical jump server in the EU1DC rack 0815.  On the rack elevation diagram, you are looking for CWRWTs001 in RU99.

Looks like these UCSs have the old US names on them.  We need to review the names for the UCSs in Rack 0815 and make the corrections.

@Evelyn, please set up meeting to talk about and correct this issue.  We should double check EU2DC too.

Thanks. Bob


Evelyn confirms instantly. Case closed for today.

  • Total #mail: 11
  • Total #mail today: 8

The next day passes by with Georges proactive attempts to get the right HDD into the right server. He’s supported by Olaf who gives regular live reports from the actual situation in the DC (i.e. precisely explaning which HDD is plugged into which server and asking for admittance to x-plug).

On Feb, 15th Geroge writes:

Hans,

Can you let us know who will be baring the costs for sending this HDD over to Praiss, Germany?

cheers G


Hans in all honesty responds not to know this and directs back to Francis “coram publico” assuming, that the cost question will for sure be no issue here as it all is about a very important customer and a very urgent request.

For the first time in our story things become “a bit complicated” here, as George has to ask admittance to book costs for x-plugging a HDD, putting it into an envelope and filing it with UPS. The representative of the respective delivery organization for this customer kicks in and asks whether sales has a budget (and PO) for this effort. George suggests to use a cloud development PO for the sake of simplicity, Hans again suggests – for the sake of even more simplicity – to invoice the department responsible for the social enterprise application directly (as this will be the benefitting party in this whole story anyway).

On Feb 15th, late in the evening (after having patiently watched the emails on the matter so far), Francis writes:

Jesus Christ…

Please invoice our department

In any case this is still our comapny’s money – so what!

Best regards

Francis

… and George kicks off the task of x-plugging and exporting with Dakshi by — — — asking Hans to open a Change Ticket in the Change Management system for this activity!

… which now – for the first time – leaves Hans standing in complete awe and totally leaking to understand his involveness in the case (especially as Hans is a future oriented agile minded technician who disbelieves in the flexibility of traditional change processes based on ITIL; ITIL was great some 10 years ago – Hans believes, that this is the cloud era which asks for more rapid process definitions and especially executions – but that’s a different story …)


This is the last we hear from our story’s heros before the weekend begins …

  • Time elapsed: 11 days
  • Total #mail: 34
  • Total #mail today: 17

On the following Monday, Hans and George spend some time (writtenly and verbously) to clarify how to rightly kick off such an activity and George (who asked for a change ticket just a few days ago) suggests, that the right way would be to engage with the cloud operations team in India directly. … Wait. … Directly with India. … I need to scroll up to the beginning here … Wasn’t that what Francis … did …

On Feb, 18th late in the evening, George writes:

Hi Dakshi,

could you please give me a feedback of the status regarding the transfer of the desired files?

Thanks and Best Regards

George

Dakshi now asks his colleague Abhu to act on the request (giving information on which VMs needed), Abhu asks Prahti to start the export. And Prahti re-queries the right ORG and vApps. Wait. … I need to scroll up again … Didn’t Hans … provide this very same information … directly to … Dakshi; well – it’s only copy-paste anyway and Hans is known to have an everlasting rapidly-searchable email-archive. Info delivered. Now to Prahti.

It’s Monday, Feb 18th.

  • Time elapsed: 14 days
  • Total #mail: 41
  • Total #mail today: 7

* FULLSTOP *


On Feb, 25th, Francis writes:

Hi Hans,

Sorry to disturb you but do you know if the virtual machines hard drive has been sent to our DC? I just had a call with them and apparently they had nothing delivered yet.

Best regards,

Francis

Hans in all honesty responds not to have any new status and Francis redirects his question to George. George in turn asks Dakshi. Dakshi confirms to have started the export but reports, that he had issues with some of the VMs (their export causing high load on the servers, which is why he did (does) not want to continue in order not to disturb productive environments). This leads Francis to ask the blunt question why it wouldn’t be possible to just use latest backups of the very same VMs.

cloud-team.operations@company.com thereafter confirms that backups can be restored to a seperate location and the export can then be started. Wait. … ? … Let’s contemplate briefly on why a restore … … …

On Feb, 26th, Prahti writes:

Hi Francis,

We have exported following machines to the attached hard drive:

  • webserver01
  • dbserver01
  • accesssrv01
  • worker01
  • viewer01
  • loadbalancer01

Prahti


  • Time elapsed: 22 days
  • Total #mail: 49
  • Total #mail today: 2

* FULLSTOP *


On Mar, 15th, Francis writes:

Hello Geroge and Hans,

I just had our DC people on the phone, and they’re still waiting for the VMs. It’s been one month now. Do you have a status on this please?

Best regards,

Francis

George, some hours later, replies:

Hi Hans, Hi Francis,

sorry for the delay, but there was no change ticket in place.

But in this case the colleagues will do an unconventional approach. However, the arrival of the disk at the agreed shipping address is expected during next week only.

Best Regards

Geroge

* FULLSTOP *

On Mar, 27th, Francis writes:

Hi George,

I’ve been contacted by the DC, and they’re still waiting for your shipment to be delivered. Do you have any update on this please?

Best regards,


After this we lose track and the emails trickle away.

  • Time elapsed: 51 days
  • Total #mail: 53
  • Total #mail today: 1

* FULLSTOP *



On June, 6th, Francis writes:

Good afternoon,

Our DC has mounted the machines and it appears you did not provided the right machines. Actually, you sent us virtual machines that belongs to another client and that are not even running WindowsServer.

Beside the fact that it is unacceptable to get the data from another client, the delay introduced by this makes our company at risk with that very important client (government ministry for employment).

For the record, virtual machines needed to be cloned, copied onto a USB drive and sent to our DC are:

  • webserver01
  • dbserver01
  • accesssrv01
  • worker01
  • viewer01
  • loadbalancer01

The client’s DC address is: DC1GER – Markus Verdinger, Sackstrasse 240, 99999 Praiss, Germany

Please, fix ASAP.

Regards,

Rewind to start …


* FULLSTOP *

Questions:

  • Where is the leak of communication?
  • Where is the process leaking clarity?
  • What could have been done by whom to improve the result of this operation/request?
  • Who should consider their job attitude?
  • How would ITIL support such a case?
  • Would this be possible to happen in your company? Why not?
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Security – a never ending Cloud story?

Mr Andrej Krenker wrote in the CloudInsider linkedin group:

Why are people afraid of the dark? It is not because they know that there is monster in it, but because they don’t know what is in it. Whenever I am reading or discussing about adoption of “Cloud” and various statistics about it, I am horrified when I see how big the percentage of people that do not buy or adopt cloud services is, due to the reasons that they call security, privacy, risk, fraud

I liked the post and the discussion launched.

Still I think, the answer is fairly simple:

Security is one of the most difficult (i.e. complicated) topics of all – not only with Cloud but in general – not only since Cloud but before – and not only in terms of technique and technology but also in terms of broad (business) understanding. The (partly) inability of cloud providers to deal with security appropriately makes them incapable of dealing with it transparently. Which in turn leads to leak of understanding security with Cloud consumers – hence to resentment. It’s as simple as that. It needs solid understanding of the potential security threats, transparent mitigation – technically as well as explanatory – and sincere honest trust, once things are clearified and transparent. That’s when the debate will stop.

You may want to follow (and participate in) the full discussion.

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What Private Clouds and Cloud “Youngsters” have (not) in common

What is a Cloud “Youngster”? For the benefit of this post I will use the term for those traditional IT providers moving into offering Cloud services. And I am mainly talking about Enterprise Cloud providers; i.e. those who want to transform themselves from being an Enterprise hosting and outsourcing partner to a (public) Cloud provider for large enterprises.

So, what is this commonness about?

The question raises as Cloud “Youngsters” typically evolve from some elephant-like organizations who’s processes serve the purpose of utmost control of their IT’s consumption. Myriads of personal take proper care of exactly what happens when with which portion of the IT, when used through an application of one of their customers who – in a long enduring engagement process – outsourced their stuff to the IT provider (the “hoster”). And this scenario is actually not that much different from how IT is provided internally to a company’s business lines. Today.

In short: the keyword for how this works is – “slow”.

With the evolution of Cloud the hoster becomes the “Cloud Youngster” taking its experience in providing IT to offer a Cloud to its customers.

Which is good. No question about it. The problem raises when after that decision (“we have a lot of experience in how to do this – let’s provide a cloud“) nothing happens in addition …

E.g.: Check out this teched blog post: “Private Cloud Principles” (http://blogs.technet.com/b/privatecloud/archive/2010/10/12/private-cloud-principles.aspx). It describes in a pretty abstract manner what challenges are faced when the internal provider of IT to a company’s business wants to start providing IT as a Cloud. No, I won’t repeat the post, of course; but I’ll stress a few bullet points:

  • A comsuming entity must perceive compute resources as being infinite even thought they aren’t
  • Mitigating failure through redundancy of components is too resource consuming
  • Reduce human involvement for the sake of agility and predicatbility
  • Incentive a behaviour which drives consumption down whenever possible

Our “Youngster” faces exactly the same challenges as its IT is far from being infinite, whereas its customer’s expectation demands exactly that: infinite resources. Closing this gap without investing into huge DC ramp ups can only be done through the measures described above (and more); and I believe the article gives quite a good guideline for a few paradigms (while it is pleasently economical with Microsoft product references ;)).

Therefore, I’d claim that Cloud “Youngsters” have a lot if not all in common with a company having decided to take the change challenge and transform their internal IT provisioning into a Private Cloud.

What – as I experienced it – they do not have in common, though, is the commitment for change.

Large hosters/outsourcers oftenly tend to believe that the step into being a Cloud provider is done by leveraging their processes, paradigms and provisioning means and just virtualizing their infrastructure. That approach leaks the clear decision for transformation. Tranformation far too often ends in slide ware and not at the end of a proper program to establish fully elastic IT-as-a-Service – for the benefit of Cloud customers.

Taking this decision and really executing upon it is probably the bigest challenge in it all. The ones starting kicking their IT into a Private Cloud have done this decision. Deliberately and consciously.

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Switch Off

This is a completely non-technical statement. Well – nearly.

We’ve all become so mobilely connected – constantly – that we’ve started forgetting how and when to be present in the very moment — without our phones. I had a highlight in unskillfulness of switching off today. Brought me into thinking bout my so far “best of” in mobile phone misuse. All of the following have really happened, as unbelievable as they may seem …

  • Nr. 5: Young couple in (can’t remember where) seemingly very much in love, holding hands – and their mobiles in the respective other      hand and read … on their own … for minutes
  • Nr. 4: Man to the left of me at today’s concert in Vienna’s states opera house picks up his phone and starts talking. He doens’t give a shit on the special situation until I take the phone literally out of his ear with my hands (I didn’t wanna discuss).
  • Nr. 3: Man goes out of the hotel into his car each morning to do phone calls in a row. It turns out that the mobile is a fake kid’s toy (yes, also this one’s really happened)
  • Nr. 2: The girl in front of me at the recent Paul McCartney concert films 2 songs in a row – fully – right in front of my eyes. I had to take her arms down. She seemingly wasn’t really into stopping recording, I guess.
  • And the unprecedented Nr. 1: Bonnie Raitt sings one of her really seriously deep touching love songs. A man, who has right before run to the front of the stage, starts filming the song right in front of the artists’s eyes. Guitarist asks him to stop. He continues. Until Bonnie Raitt nearly has to interrupt the song to demand him to stop. Whole emotion ruined (bet, he didn’t even notice).

The most important App on our phones is the Switch-Off-App. You don’t have that? Better develop it quickly!

(to be continued)

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