Sam Schoelen, CITO/CSO, Continental
Ever since I have taken the plunge into the world of cloud technologies one theme has been obvious; all the solutions and decisions that were so difficult to maneuver through have now become as easy as checking a box. For years I have been rolling out very complicated technology solutions, working with high-level security, networking, systems, and redundant solutions, these same solutions today can be accomplished with a check-box and rolled out in minutes.
Reminiscing back to the first time I built a mail server or SQL server and the redundancy associated with them I remember the cost and complications I encountered. As I recall, it was extremely time consuming and included very expensive hardware, replication/cluster software, consulting hours and expensive software and was not easy to do! In fact, it was an extremely complicated solution. It was architected, installed and configured over a lengthy amount of time and was prone to failure. I would continuously have to test the configurations and oftentimes my tests were “handed to me”! In other words the entire install was a catastrophe and I would be scrambling in search of a solution because Plan “A” would not go as intended. Also, the price tag associated with these roll-outs would always exceed the forecasted budget.
Now, when I roll out RDS (AWS database solutions) I see a lot of options. Some of them are “Do you want this to be redundant?”, “Do you want this to be encrypted?”, “Do you want this to be managed?” Each one of these solutions used to be, individually very expensive, now these complicated solutions are as easy as just clicking “Yes” in that ever-so-easy to apply “checkbox”. And the price tag that comes with these features are a fraction of what they use to be.
I built one of the first hosting datacenter for web.com and it needed to build as a fully redundant datacenter in every way. It was done through multiple servers, load balancers, internet links, UPS, databases, etc... Now, in contrast I recently used the PaaS solution that Azure has to host a website, now if I want a fully redundant solution for my website I can just load it directly onto the Azure PaaS web solution. Simply by checking off a few boxes the process alleviates multiple layers of configuration issues. As we all know, there are hosting solutions that have been around for years that would do something similar to this, but they were time consuming and extremely tedious. Today it is taken to a new layer of systems including databases, operating systems, ERP, CRM, and other similar solutions. A developer no longer has to worry about any of this, he can concentrate on what his core job is and do it better and faster.
Developments such as these do not come as a revelation within our industry as technology advancements have always been part of the culture, they come fast and they cultivate new and more efficient ways of doing things. Now they are taking on the software and hardware giants, eliminating the need for their existence, and doing a very fine job of it! Every week there are announcements from cloud providers showing new and more advanced solutions that now exist with total ease of use. For example; I read that Netflix has released their software to replicate systems into either AWS, Azure or Google and they are giving it away for free, not particularly good news for companies that rely on selling this type of software. As well as, AWS just released a database replication software that can cost as little as $3 per TB to replicate a database into their cloud. There are companies that spend a lot of time to develop this software and sell it for profit, so why would companies be buying this software if they can do it with the core vendors (AWS, Azure, Google) or just use an open source software to do this? The answer is simple “they wouldn’t”.
The entire insurgence into the cloud should be making many of the software giant’s very nervous and will force many of them to stay innovative by developing faster and more cost effective solutions or to the alternative extreme, close their doors for good. Companies need to keep innovation at the top, they need to be able to recognize what their customers need and create this either better than, faster than, or more creative than the cloud vendors can. If these corporate giants keep their eye on the future and are able to build solutions that coexist and strive to remain on the cutting edge, they may be able to not only survive in today’s cloud driven market but can continue to do so with solid growth patterns. In today’s commerce, taking a year to get a solution out the door is no longer an option, companies must be able to take a product from theory to customer with speed and efficiency to keep up.
My intent in this message is not to hit the panic button, but to draw attention to the constant changes within technology and to help folks stay on top of their game. You have to move fast and smart. If you chose to ignore the industry trends then you may easily make a slip and end up as a non-relevant entity.