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Podcast Episode

Voices in Cloud – Episode 3: A Conversation with Jason Bloomberg of Intellyx

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In this episode of Voices in Cloud, host David Linthicum speaks with Jason Bloomberg about the evolution of public, private and hybrid cloud.

Today's leading minds talk Cloud with host David Linthicum


Jason Bloomberg is a leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, and globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology and digital transformation. He is ranked #5 on Onalytica’s list of top Digital Transformation influencers for 2018 and #15 on Jax’s list of top DevOps influencers for 2017, the only person to appear on both lists.

As founder and president of Agile Digital Transformation analyst firm Intellyx, he advises, writes, and speaks on a diverse set of topics, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, devops, big data/analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain/bitcoin/cryptocurrency, no-code/low-code platforms and tools, organizational transformation, internet of things, enterprise architecture, SD-WAN/SDX, mainframes, hybrid IT, and legacy transformation, among other topics.


Dave Linthicum: Hey guys welcome to the GigaOm Voices in The Cloud podcast. It's the one place where you will hear from industry thought leaders providing ‘no nonsense’ advice on how to succeed with cloud computing, IoT edge computing and cognitive computing. I'm Dave Linthicum, bestselling author, speaker, executive and B-list geek. And joining me today is my special guest and great good friend Jason Bloomberg. Jason is a leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, a globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology and digital transformation. He's ranked number five, on - how do you spell this Jason - Onalytica?

Jason Bloomberg: I guess, yeah.

...the list of top digital transformation influencers of 2018, number 15 on Jack's list of top devops influencers 2017 and the only person appearing on both lists. He is the founder President and Principal Analyst at agile digital transformation firm IntellyX. At IntellyX he advises, writes and speaks on a diverse set  of topics including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, dev ops, big data analytics, cyber security, blockchain, Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, new code, low code, platforms... I'm not going to go through all the list in legacy transformation and other topics.

So to catch the listeners up, I think last time we talked it was on the CTP Cloud Technology's Doppler podcast, so what's been going on since then? You've been prolific in Forbes. It's almost like a cartoon strip, the number of articles you get out on there.

Yeah it's great to be here. I do continue to write five articles a month for Forbes and I’m President of IntellyX, an analyst firm and we're up to three analysts now, so everything is going well and crazy busy as usual. Weekends are really just workdays with no phone calls.

Yeah, that's how I play... weekends are catch up time. It's the time you get all the content done, things like that.


So looking at your article that you published in Forbes back on February 2nd 2019, "Have Private Clouds finally found their place in the Enterprise?" Fill me in on this. I thought this was a fascinating article.  Summarize it for us and our readers and let's kinda have a discussion around this.

Well you know we've been talking about private clouds for a number of years now and I actually refer to the NIST definition from the last decade where they sort of clarify the public/private/hybrid cloud distinctions. In public clouds everybody sort of knows where we are with those and [with] hybrid clouds we sort of have a sense of what's going on there, but private clouds have sort of gone... they're sort of like the ugly stepchild.

In the early days, private cloud was just sort of vendor doublespeak. It was not really particularly private or cloud. It's just ‘we're gonna have virtualization in our data center, we're gonna call it private cloud or maybe we're going to take a public cloud and we're going to carve off some little net network partition and we're going to call it private cloud.’ So there's a lot of funny business, and hand waving about what private cloud was. That was in the early days and there's really been a lot of changes now, and if anything, private clouds are coming into their own as part of this modern hybrid IT vision and that's really what's changed. So we didn't have this modern IT vision when cloud computing hit the scene a dozen years ago.

So I'm seeing a public cloud kind of getting ‘cloud-washed’ and all sorts of things and so it's really never kind of the traditional, private cloud such as Openstack and [Apache] CloudStack and things like that.

But now that big world of hybrid IT which is a new buzzword that's being bandied about out there. Private clouds are in essence anything that exists within a data center and I'm not sure that's right. I think that we're leveraging private clouds as analogs of public cloud, and in fact they're able to do self-provisioning, they're able to do auto scaling, they're able to do all these kind of cool features. Are we losing or diluting the value of what a private cloud was, even though we never really saw it in the concept?

Well I would say it's sort of the other way around. Now that we are fine tuning what we want from the private part of the story, and fine tuning what we want from the cloud part of the story, we're able to sort of have a better idea how private clouds fit into this overall ecosystem. So you just listed some of the core cloud based capabilities: elasticity, resilience, scalability and the automated self provisioning as well. All of these are capabilities that we look for from any cloud whether it's public or private.

And so those are becoming capabilities that are now understood as being desirable across the entire IT landscape, but even within on premises IT, which is typically virtualized or even legacy non-virtualized on premises IT. We're looking to hopefully get some of those cloud benefits as well. And this is really now an extension of the notion of ‘cloud native’ where cloud native originally meant to be ‘oh we're gonna build software for the cloud.’ Right?

So you had Spotify and Facebook and these guys were cloud native companies and their software was cloud native. But the enterprise perspective -- it's really about taking these cloud capabilities, these architectural principles and saying that these are the way we want to do IT generally. It's not just in public clouds, it's anywhere, and so now we're saying, “well we could do it in public cloud, we could do it in private cloud, we could do it on premises, either virtualized or legacy environments.” And that's the broader hyper IT story.

Now private clouds are saying “well we want to bring this cloud goodness, but we need it to be private in the sense that maybe we have those sovereignty or security compliance issues that require us potentially to maintain our data on premises or keep this behind our firewall or these other specific definitions now that will qualify as private, but it's less about where the underlying hardware is physically located, it's more really a question of a matter of policy.” So it's how we configure our hybrid IT environment that we can say as a matter of a logical distinction, “well this is our private cloud, but it may or may not be in a public cloud, maybe on premises and maybe somewhere else.” It could be a posted co-location facility, -- it doesn't really matter, whichever of those is appropriate for the problems at hand. So it's becoming now more of a configuration choice as opposed to implementation, a physical implementation decision.

I like those insights. And this is quoting you from the article: "One of the primary drivers of this hybrid IT strategy is the realization that public clouds don't meet every enterprise need and that cloud first or cloud migration strategy may not be at all about public cloud offering." So that's kind of smart because ultimately we're seeing kind of a pragmatic view of all this technology and I think we have a tendency to kind of think in binary ways.

And so suddenly we started moving to cloud and I think every enterprise felt there was a party going on and they weren't invited. And then suddenly when they needed to do it, they tried to migrate everything that existed in their data centers into the cloud. And that's typically almost never going to be right. I mean they're going to get to a saturation point where it's in un-economically viable to migrate anywhere between 30% to 40% of the applications that I see within enterprises; and also the data federation issues in the data security issues become paramount.

What do I say to healthcare clients, where the API or PII restrictions in certain European countries where they're not allowed to put the information on a public cloud that is able to do things inter-country? We've been probably over simplifying the way in which we're looking at this. is that... the gist of this?

Well that binary [question], ‘Is it on premises or is it in the public cloud? We gotta move it into the public cloud.’ That is just not a realistic way of thinking about the world from the enterprise perspective. There are many different variations and many different concerns. And as the technology and as the various offerings matured, the vendors and the service providers have stepped up to the plate and come up with this new range of capabilities. Then the open source efforts as well have sort of driven a lot of value in the marketplace as well.

So now there's a lot of choices for the enterprise, whether it's for a data sovereignty issue that you're talking about or simply for a cost issue. I mean this is an important point. I think Dave you've written about this over the years, as well is that the public cloud isn't necessarily the low cost option. It often is at the lower end as you're just ramping up, but at a certain point, that cloud bill is just going to go way, way up and at a certain point. you may as well just buy the damn servers and it's going to save you money.

But there's a breakeven point and it's different for every situation. So with a private cloud, -- well, you can buy the servers if that's what you want your private cloud to be, or it could be co-located or it could be a virtual private cloud in a public cloud. So there's all these different options now. On one hand it's more complicated; on the other hand, as long as you know what you're doing, you can get the combination of capabilities that meet your needs.

So what would your advice be to an enterprise CIO right now it's looking at public cloud and is considering hybrid IT?So basically what would you say that they need to do to in essence, make sure that they're hosting the workloads and the data in the right places? What's the balancing act that you consider?

Well it's great that you mentioned workloads because that's really the key to understanding how all of this fits together. When we talk about hybrid IT we're talking about your public cloud or private cloud, private cloud could be on premises, it could be a hosted co-location facility. We could also be talking about virtualization on premises or you can now do VMware in Amazon. So there's all these different combinations and then you also have your your legacy environments as well, and all of that can be hybrid IT, I mean the modern mainframe is hybrid IT now. It's just you know everything is part of the story.

But the real story is not about the environment, it's not about the deployment options. It's about the workloads. It's about having workloads such as centricity. So you have a management approach to your IT that focuses on the workloads and what the requirements are for the workloads. Because remember the workloads are where the applications live and the applications are what are you putting in front of your customers.

So that's where the rubber hits the road, is the customer experience and the customer experience is supported by the applications. And how does the infrastructure, the underlying cloud choices support your applications? It's via the workload centricity. So you want the underlying environments to be configurable as a matter of policy, depending upon the needs of the workload. So if you need to move a workload or if you need to provision workloads in different places for different purposes or have a workload that...

Workloads are an abstraction in and of themselves. They may be an application, may be a data part of it, or you could be a multi-tier workload. You may have your data in one location and the application when it's somewhere else if that's appropriate, -- either could be specialized workloads like high performance workloads that have specialized requirements there's a whole range of different options, but if you have this workload centricity you're essentially connecting the dots between all of this underlying infrastructure technology and the customer experience, which is at the heart of digital transformation.

Focusing on the customer and how you provide value to the customer [is] a way to get out of this siloed thinking 'well we're a private cloud over here, we're on premises over there, mainframe guys are in that room over there, we never talk to them.' It's a way of getting away from that siloed way of thinking and thinking ‘Let's think about what our customers need’ and it may be a cross cutting set of technology capabilities. And we want to build the appropriate abstractions to support that, and this is all part of this broader story of workload centric thinking.

Do you think ultimately this is a planning problem? We're not really thinking through this or even dealing with the architecture of it. Looking at the requirements as they back into the technology, we're in essence pushing forward and operating [in] reactive mode and use my magazine mode, if you ever read magazines anymore, in terms of chasing some of the shiny objects out there, and that's probably going to do some of these enterprises harm.

Yeah you could call it a planning problem or you could call it an architecture problem. I guess in a sense, it's an architecture problem -- understanding how to build the appropriate levels of abstraction to support the various business requirements, -- that's essentially an architectural challenge. The planning challenge is in how do we get there, right? How do we go from where we are now, which is always messed up, right? The current state of affairs in enterprise is always being screwed up. And how do we get to this vision of greater agility, greater flexibility and leveraging technology assets as appropriate to meet the needs of customers long term? And that now becomes this gradual process of maturation and of moving toward this modern view of IT, which you can call that a planning problem as well as architecture problem.

So ultimately this is something that we need to consider in terms of how we're dealing with the strategic layer of this and I think that's been missing from I think migration to the cloud going forward. There's a misappropriation of applications, mis-selection of applications and certainly mis-selections of workloads. Even looking at what needs to be refactored in cloud native systems and things like that. This is just going to be an ongoing problem going forward. I guess it’s going to keep the consultants happy. So I hope the enterprise is going to pay attention to what's going on here.

You know Dave, you've been beating this drum in your writing and in your podcasts for over a decade now, so if only people would listen.

Yeah. Your lips to God's ears. No one ever listens to me. I agree with me I found out. So you wrote another article in Forbes that I thought was really interesting. "You Think you're Cloud Native Only if you're doing This" -- pretty catchy. So summarize this for us, I think it's a fascinating article.

Well I mentioned a moment ago how we think about the notion of ‘cloud native’ that it's not really about building, writing, software in the cloud. That's obviously a part of it. It's really about taking these core set of cloud best practices: the elasticity, scalability, resilience, automated self-service provisioning (and there's a few others as well, but those are sort of the core group) and saying “Well these are IT best practices generally speaking, right? How can we bring the cloud computing goodness to everything we're doing in IT, whether it's the mainframe, whether it's other legacy environments?

I’m not necessarily calling the mainframe legacy, but you know legacy environments or the mainframe or virtualization on premises environment or all of these cloud options we really want to leverage, we want everything to be resilient, we want everything to be scalable, we want everything to be elastic. That's just now the core set of best practice. So when we say “cloud native” what we're really saying is that we want to do everything following these core set of rules, and when you break those down into the specifics, there's a number of best practices that you can follow in terms of what does it mean to build applications, what does it mean to build a software lifecycle. And it becomes a dev ops centric approach as opposed to a waterfall approach because that is part of what it means to be cloud native.

And so it's now essentially the way that we can achieve these benefits of hybrid IT broadly speaking is by leveraging cloud native best practice across all of IT, and I think that's an important story for a number of reasons. One you want to get away from this black and white thinking where it's like ‘cloud or on premise’ as some sort of a black and white. We want to get away from that. We want to understand that the notion of the cloud itself is really nothing more than a set of practices that can apply to different technologies in different contexts, that's part of the story of private cloud. And if we get to that point, then we say, “How do we make sure that we meet our business needs? And then that connects the dots now back to that workloads.

So I think this is a very profound quote from the article: "The reality there are many moving parts to cloud architecture and just a service oriented architecture built upon end tier architecture and virtualization based cloud architecture did the same in turn. So too will cloud native architecture leverage the approaches that came before while breaking new ground." That's pretty cool.

I think that one of the things that I am finding, -- whether it's a tool provider or even dealing with the enterprises that are moving things in the cloud, they're not necessarily looking at history and what worked well with certain aspects to service oriented architecture, certain aspects of structured computing even, and different architectural patterns that we used over the years. And this is really a matter of looking at the history and basically augmenting them and putting new modern modern takes on it.

That's my theory is that in IT we never invent anything new, -- everything's kind of invented on top of the work of other people.  Even when I wrote the AI book, and you wrote the books as well and ultimately we're building new architecture a new way to looking on something on previous work, previous patterns that have already been established, typically not by one person but by thousands of people, and we're not necessarily doing that as well as we should. We're kind of reinventing the wheel and maybe we need more context of how architecture kind of evolved.

Yeah in a way. I mean you could sort of take a pessimistic perspective saying that we're reinventing the wheel and us old guys, -- we've seen it all, and the young folks don't know what they're doing because they didn't live through client server and service running architecture. But I'd rather take a more optimistic view that what's happening is that all of these various trends are individually maturing and we're understanding better how to fit these together.

I recently went to KubeCom, the Kubernetes conference at the end of last year, and was really quite impressed at how many different stories have moved along. So we were talking about service running architecture and obviously SOA  is one of sort of the foundations of microservices architecture, but there's fundamental differences and micro services architecture is essential to containers, but of course containers are just the latest version of virtualization. You could say well it's just repeating history, but if you look more closely, it's like we were actually learning lessons.

We were actually understanding, well, virtualization took us so far, containers take us that much further, SOA took us only so far, micros services take us that much further and you know the story keeps going on. The early generation of cloud computing took us so far but now this notion of hybrid IT is taking us further and these things are starting to fit together very nicely. We are understanding better how to build the appropriate abstractions so as to achieve the things we want to do. We had SOA with web services, web services turned out to be way more trouble than they were worth, along came REST, [it] took years for people to figure out how to get REST to work properly. Well now we sort of we've crossed that bridge. We know how REST is supposed to work and we know how to solve the problems of the earlier API approaches web services and tightly coupled APIs of the past, and so now all that is part of the story, but you don't want to pick any of these and say it's what it's all about. It's not the API economy or the container economy or it's all about server lists or all about blockchain is not all about any one thing, right? It's about the fact that we were figuring all of this stuff out and it all fits together as appropriate, and there's still a lot more work to be done, but I would say that we're really making good progress.

Yeah. I think we are as well. So what do you think the future will be for containers in this world, is it just enabling technology, just like anything else? You think it's gonna be core to a loT of the hybrid IT developing going forward, or are you arguing from the strategic to the tactical? I think a lot of listeners are interested in that.

Well one of the interesting things about containers is that you can think of them in and of themselves as a great thing and they just you know do all this cool stuff. They could be deployed much faster and they support ephemeral approaches to computing, and they have special context with stateless processing and all that, all of these things. But if you take a step back and say, “Wait a minute, there's more going on than just containers. We have serverless computing” is sort of at one extreme. We have containers, we still have virtualization, traditional virtualization, what VMWare has been doing all these years still going strong.

Then if you look at say “What's going on with the modern mainframe (that is also sort of part of the spectrum) and so which is best?” Which is best? Modern mainframe computing or virtualization or containers or serverless? Well it depends upon the problems you're trying to solve. It's not that any one of those is better, but they all sort of fit on a spectrum. You can think of serverless as like one extreme and you know mainframe is on the other extreme, but it all fits together and it's a set of capabilities that now address different problems.

So if you think about containers, yes they're really good at certain things. If you want to build applications that are inherently dynamic and you want to leverage ephemeral application functionality for your CICD pipelines, then well that's great but that doesn't apply to all your software. Some of your software you just want it to run the same way every single day. You know you want to do your core transaction processing the same way you've done it for the last 20 years. Well that might be run on a mainframe because that's what it's designed for and that's what it's still best at. So that's part of this maturation process is the understanding that it's all about the right tool for the job. It's not about saying that any particular technology or any particular approach is the best thing.It all depends upon the problems you're trying to solve.

I couldn't have said it better myself Jason, and that's why you're one of the better writers, authors, speakers out there on this topic, and I hope people start listening more to you.

Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

So please pick up a copy of my book Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence available on Amazon and other places books are sold; also make sure to follow me on Twitter @DavidLinthicum as well as LinkedIn where I have several cloud computing courses on LinkedIn Learning. So Jason, where can we find you on the web and go ahead and pitch your company.

Yeah well IntellyX.com and my Twitter handle is @theEbizwizard, shows how much of a gray hair I am, still has ‘Ebiz’ in it, but it was all about a business back in the day. So it still is all the same stuff.

Well anyway please follow Jason. He's got some great content out there and keep up with him because you'll learn a lot. So until next time, best of luck with the cloud meeting projects. We'll talk to you again in about seven days. You guys take good care. Bye.

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