I’m getting an interesting question more often every week: “How do I become more cloud-like – what are cloud providers doing that I can emulate?” Several people at our Web Innovation Summit in L.A. this week have asked me the same question.
The answer is important – for more than seven years, Gartner has been talking about a vision for IT infrastructure and operations that we called “real-time infrastructure.” The concept is simple but powerful – infrastructure should become services-oriented – policies come in, services that meet requirements come out. RTI uses virtualization and automation technologies to ensure provisioning, optimization and availability are handled at low cost, with high agility and appropriate quality of service.
Gartner developed this before IBM’s On Demand, HP’s Adaptive Infrastructure, Microsoft’s Dynamic IT, VMware’s Virtual Infrastructure. On Demand failed because IBM focused almost exclusively top-down – business process change, leveraging their (then new) business consulting force. HP also focused much more on Adaptive Enterprise, and not enough on the underlying Adaptive Infrastructure. Microsoft and especially VMware have been more successful, building RTI from the ground up.
Not surprisingly, Microsoft and VMware are now starting to extend their visions to cloud computing. Cloud computing is a natural extension of RTI concepts – services-oriented, abstracted from users, utility-like, results-oriented, efficient and dynamic, etc.
Gartner’s Infrastructure and Operations Maturity Model defines our view of the roadmap to a real-time infrastructure. We believe this also defines a roadmap to become cloud-like. Virtualization in its many forms is a major part of this evolution.
And, in fact, modernizing an infrastructure to behave more like an internal “cloud” also makes IT a more effective cloud computing user – as cloud offerings mature. Changing the internal mindset to be services-oriented (like sharing equipment with other business units, for heaven’s sake!), the funding model to be usage-based, the management and usage model to be dynamic and flexible – these are all critical enablers to using external cloud services.
And just being able to define service levels themselves – the behavior expected of a service – is critical. If you can’t define that, you can be sure that the first time you decide to use cloud services you will miss the mark.