Sunday, November 16, 2014

Amazon's re:invent - A cloud roadmap for the Enterprise

I was at the AWS re:invent this week in sunny Las Vegas. It was an opportunity to observe and learn from experiences of other large enterprises starting on their cloud journey. A few observations that I plan to share with fellow Enterprise Architects and IS executives.

Putting together a show for a large gathering of nearly 13500+ participants is by itself a testament to the seriousness of the cloud strategy. As expected, the Amazon team put together an A-game to demonstrate their cloud roadmaps, but what was more impressive was the large contingent of product vendors and System Integrator partners joining to showcase their capabilities.

The keynote sessions were designed to drive home the point that "The cloud is the new normal," and that AWS is a significant player here. Large customers РCoke America, MLB Advanced Media, Cond̩ Nast were out there to highlight their seriousness in the cloud journey.
Some of the deep-dive sessions highlighted the following
  • Amazon’s AWS is a large, serious public cloud platform that can enable Virtual private clouds (VPC) for enterprises looking to minimize/eliminate their hosted data center footprint.
  • Vendor ecosystem is maturing and working hard to keep up with updates on AWS offerings.
    • For instance many SI partners have ‘cloud service management’ portals and frameworks to address configuration and license key management and service catalogs – services that AWS also announced at re:invent.
  • Prepare adequately while planning a larger scale migration of a portfolio of applications.
    • Lift-and-shift may be a misnomer – legacy applications will have to be lifted-considerably-refactored before ‘shifted’ to the cloud.
  • Virtual private cloud (VPC) holds promise for enterprises looking to “shut” or minimize IS application footprint in their data centers.
    • Configuration, setup and ongoing maintenance of VPC from one’s data center is a complex and highly technical endeavor.
  • Large enterprises may not have the luxury of learning on the job.
    • Design and integrating a VPC with one’s hosted data center is not a walk in the park.
    • Rather than DIY panning to the cloud, selecting the right SI partner is a key to enable the cloud journey.
Also unsaid in the sessions
  • AWS is not the only game in town: the other software giant from Seattle has a serious proposition too.
    • As of 2014, Most large enterprises are ‘wetting their toes in the cloud’ and few are willing or able to bet the farm on a single vendor’s cloud
  • CIO’s Organizations aspire to “shut their datacenters” and move to the cloud
    • Many case studies highlighted the aspiration but only the new-startup’s highlighted operations without traditional data centers. Perhaps the reality of legacy weighs too heavily?
  • Large enterprises may opt for hybrid model
    • The future for large enterprises may well be an ecosystem of VPC’s on AWS and other cloud providers, in addition to their on-premise data centers for critical workloads
  • Architects and engineers at large enterprises need to prepare for the alphabet soup.
    • In addition to existing products, AWS announced a slew of new technologies at the conference - EC2 container, AWS Lambda, Aurora DB, Code deploy, Key management, Config etc. Other cloud vendors have other acronyms for their technologies.
    • Other vendors have other naming, branding and versioning. And it is not just keeping up with branding but versioning and capabilities
  • Cloud is yet another component, albeit a significant component, in the IS technology management mix.
    • For instance, moving 100 ‘legacy’ corporate applications to a VPC on AWS will not minimize the inherent design complexity.
    • The move may reduce cost of infrastructure hosting but not necessarily the cost and complexity of ongoing maintenance and support.
Although these notes are from the AWS re:invent this week, I am sure the other cloud guys down the road in Seattle throw an equally exiting conference to showcase their partner ecosystem, replete with vendor presentations and parties.

(stating the obvious: while thankful to my employer for the trip, and to an SI partner for a ‘free’ event pass, these views are mine alone and not an endorsement of my employer’s cloud strategy) repost from linkedin

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Book review: Rogue Elephant: Harnessing the Power of India’s Unruly Democracy by Simon Denyer

Book Review

My Book review of "Rogue Elephant: Harnessing the Power of India’s Unruly Democracy" by Simon Denyer. Cross posted from

Rogue Elephant is an interesting analysis of some aspects of India's democracy. The author, who has spent the past decade or so reporting on India draws from his notes while highlighting observations.

The book begins and concludes with an analysis of the infamous gang-rape in Delhi that shocked the conscience of the nation. The author devotes several chapters to money and corruption with a brief review of the political players including Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. Simon was rightly betting on one of them ascending to the role of India's Prime Minister. This ensures the book continues to be relevant in 2014 when published.

As with any political narrative, the views of the author and his biases are bound to creep in. This book is no exception. The author focuses on politics in the book while skimming economic reality of life and society. In reality both are intertwined and an analysis of one should include the other. Information Technology and Business Process outsourcing and globalization of Indian manufacturing get only a passing mention. Even the Telecommunication revolution that helped India leapfrog from obsolete land-lines to the information age gets only a passing mention. Instead, Simon focuses on corruption of telcom spectrum handouts. The fact that politicians skimmed billions from the deals is not debatable. However, the benefits of wireless revolution, getting rural Indians access to basic communication and on to information age is downplayed in the narrative.

Understanding the intricacies of India's democracy is hard, even for Indians living through the changes and more so for Non Resident Indians like self, who keep abreast of happenings digitally. Simon's readable book is sure to add to the knowledge base, and will be especially useful for those looking for a “political history” of India in the past decade.