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Cloud vs. Control

BY PATRICK PUSHOR

It's little more than innate human nature to strive to control the environment around us. From macro-level examples, including the very democratic foundation of our governments, to things we do every day, our desire to control is evident in all aspects of our lives. Have you ever lined up in the automated check-out line at the grocery store even though a "manned" (gasp!) cashier was available? You're not alone.

Why, then, is it any surprise that cloud computing - a paradigm that necessarily involves a demarcation of control and trust - is facing challenges in terms of enterprise adoption?

IT departments are used to operating autonomously with respect to infrastructure-related projects and overall datacenter design. Vendors have fine-tuned their offerings to support the integration of third-party systems via multi-vendor standards in response to customer demand for a wider choice of options in a solution set. Providing this basis of choice has become a key force in the marketing and adoption of technology to the enterprise.

The adoption of public cloud computing by enterprise IT requires that a certain level of control is relinquished, specifically around perimeter security and the level of visibility and operability of infrastructure.  Many tools in the enterprise toolbox are built on the assumption that organizations have a "bare-metal" sort of access to the infrastructure stack.  Business continuity tools that can migrate workloads from one hypervisor to another, for example, require visibility into these platforms that are abstracted from users in a public cloud (Infrastructure as a Service) scenario.

Organizations that have mature and experienced leadership are better suited to manage this decrease in control in exchange for increased business agility. Relinquishing control isn't new to experienced leaders; that is - it is the mark of a confident leader to trust those around them enough to operate independent of constant review and management. Calculated risk management is par for the course for the well-seasoned visionary. The challenge, then, can be propagating that vision down within an organization effectively without creating the perception that management doesn't understand the landscape well enough to make such decisions. If the leadership in your organization is mature and has a good track record - rest assured that a risk-mitigated decision to dabble in the public cloud is a vote of confidence in your direction.

An ecosystem of tools to bring visibility and control to public cloud computing is emerging for the rest of us. Tools to both monitor disparate infrastructure across IaaS vendors and to enforce policy are emerging to attempt to put organizations back in the driver seat.  Workload governance, mobility, and security are key areas of focus for vendors wishing to attract the enterprise customer to the public cloud. Tools that bridge systems that exist in our traditional datacenter, such as LDAP, with public cloud providers are combining the old with the new to provide a gentle nudge for the enterprise to take a leap of faith to the public cloud.

I am always looking for a way to communicate better and cut to the heart of any discussion. So, if you have thoughts on this subject drop me a line at ppushor@appzero.com

Is Windows Server 2003 EOL a mini Y2K event for the enterprise?

By - Greg O'Connor

There are things in life that are just painful -- Doing dishes, paying taxes, going to the dentist, and upgrading software. One of the most painful IT lifecycle events is upgrading from an older version of an operating system (OS) to a newer one. In fact, there are 10s of millions of servers still running Windows Server 2003, hosting applications that run important functions. The problem is that Window Server 2003 is about to lose support from Microsoft (end of life (EOL)) leaving many with a really difficult choice. Upgrade or face escalating risk of security holes being exploited without any patches or support. Holy strawberries Batman, we’re in a jam.

This is a case of bare metal turning to rust. The virtual support rug is being pulled out from underneath the data center. A mini Y2K event for applications stranded on those old, obsolete servers. The challenge is clear. EOL means no more patches and security vulnerabilities increase on a daily basis. For those wishing to keep their machines running, this is a situation that requires action.

Many will dream of jumping from the really old straight to the really new -- the cloud. Nothing like being an IT hero aligning with the business to show how 10 years of inaction was the right choice. If only they knew what applications were running on those rusting, slow, power-hungry physical boxes? Why do applications never die but operating systems have a life span shorter then Twinkies? (Did you know a Twinkie can survive for 47 years if left unopened in a dark cool place, yet only 35 years if opened?  And, hats off to the Pabst Brewing Company for rescuing Twinkies from obliteration!)

Getting back to WS2003 EOL, let’s review our options:

  1. Do nothing

  2. Rewrite the applications

  3. Reinstall the application, reconfigure and migrate the data

  4. Upgrade: Install Windows and keep files, settings and applications
    ​Migrate the application to a new OS


There are no other options except possibly to change companies to one that is only a few years old.

Let’s dig into these high-level options and see how viable there are.

$$$$$ Do Nothing – The “close your eyes, cross your fingers, do nothing” approach is about to blow up. Unfortunately the stay and pray option often gets chosen. 

$$$$   Rewrite – Way too much money, too long to deliver and you have no idea if most of these apps are in enough detail to create good requirements.

$$      Reinstall the application -- then reconfigure and migrate the data. This is a great idea, but odds are that some of the install media and code is missing, and exactly what is currently running and installed is not quite clear. Migrating data and configurations is not easy for these aging bits.

$$$     Upgrade OS – install Windows 2008(R2) and try to keep files, settings and applications unchanged. Something that looks promising on the surface but isn’t viable once you dig deeper. The challenge is the methodology to upgrade the machines, which basically says: “Uninstall critical apps, upgrade the OS and then reinstall the apps.”This is really option #3, plus more. In our last blog Windows Server 2003 EOL #WS2003eol – what you need to know now we challenged people who have done this to connect with us and let us know how it went… Not one response yet.

$       Migrate the application(s) to a new OS –  With AppZero, apps can be migrated to new machines over lunch, to a new OS. Simple, fast, no code changes and leave the old systems behind. Application migration can even move old 32-bit apps to 64-bit OS such as WS2012. If you’re moving to WS2012, you can get there in one step – no need to first upgrade to WS2008.  You can see a demo of Migrating SQL Server from Windows 2000 to Windows 2012 in minutes here.

Try AppZero, you’ll like it as much as a deep-fried Twinkie!



I am always looking for a way to communicate better and cut to the heart of any discussion. So, if you have thoughts on this subject drop me a line at GregO {@} Appzero {dot} com or tweet me at @gregoryjoconnor. Remember to use hashtag #WS2003eol.

Windows Server 2003 EOL #WS2003eol – what you need to know now

By - Greg O'Connor

IT departments hate end of life of products and the resulting headaches. End of life for a product means the support lifeline disappears, security updates stop and IT is left stranded with the compliance team breathing down their neck. Upgrade projects are not a fun sell to the business. “Hey, Ms./Mr. Business, let’s invest a bunch of money and time to get the same place you were before”… Gee, let’s get out the drill bit and do a root canal while we’re at it.

For the Windows 2003 Server family you should know the following:

  • On July 13, 2010 Mainstream Support for Windows Server 2003 family ended.
  • On July 14, 2015 Extended Support for Windows Server 2003 family will end.

**Microsoft’s product support lifecycle information can be found here

If you dive into the details of Mainstream Support and Extended Support you will see that you get nothing once Extended Support ends. Nothing, nada, zilch – you are on your own. No more paid support, no security updates, no product-specific information available in the online Microsoft knowledge base or support site to find answers to technical questions. Check here for the official Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ.

At this phase in a product’s lifecycle, the software company is putting a gun to your head and saying upgrade or die.

No one is going to argue (at least not strongly) in favor of running business applications on an operating system that does not get security updates. Compliance teams will see this as a huge risk and will move heaven and earth to remediate it. In the next 12 months many IT departments around the world will be assembling WS2003 EOL SWAT teams to address this challenge. This will be like a mini Y2K forcing function for most enterprise IT departments.

Recently, we at AppZero were helping an enterprise division evaluate moving to the cloud with one of our SI partners, and the following picture of their regional data center emerged. The population of machines in the data center was slightly over 80% Windows Server and only detailed for Windows population of machines as outlined below:

Percent

Count

 

Description

10%

22

 

2008 Standard edition

9%

21

 

2008 (R2) Standard edition

2%

5

 

2008 (R2 Enterprise edition

61%

140

 

2003 Standard edition

15%

35

 

2003 Enterprise addition x64

2%

5

 

Windows 2000

100%

228

 

Total

It should be noted that this is a division of a Fortune 500 company that has been in business for well over 70 years. Obviously if you work at a company that was founded in the last 10 years you don’t have a machine population anything like this.

The data shows that more than 75% of machines were running on operating systems that are 10 years old or older. These products have outdated diagnostics and management features, and without access to patches are a growing risk. The desire to transform the data center (i.e. move to some type of cloud) and modernize (i.e. dump old environments and run on newer ones) became very clear.

And that’s where AppZero comes in. We can move applications to the cloud and move to a new version of an OS at the same time, and fast.  You can see AppZero in action modernizing enterprise applications in this short video: Migrating SQL Server from Windows 2000 to Windows 2012 in minutes

 

Here are some key questions for your organization to consider as Windows Server 2003 approaches end of life:

  • How many machines in your operations are running Windows 2003?
  • Do you have a plan to remediate the risk of WS2003 EOL?
  • How are you going to upgrade or move to a more modern operating environment?
  • Does moving to the cloud solve this soon-to-be compliance problem?

In the next blog post we will detail options and challenges in upgrading an operating system. Also we’llprovide insight to why Windows Server upgrade occurrences are less likely than being struck by lightning. Anyone who has upgraded more than 1 production Windows Server machine in the past 6 months please connect with me via email or tweet about it using hashtag #WS2003eol.

I am always looking for a way to communicate better and cut to the heart of any discussion. So, if you have thoughts on this subject drop me a line at GregO {@} Appzero {dot} com or tweet me at @gregoryjoconnor. Remember to use hashtag #WS2003eol.

Life in a startup – Getting above the noise

By - Greg O'Connor

Update: When I wrote this post three weeks ago, Appzero had just been selected as one of the 25 Hot Cloud Startups by Startup 50, published by Jeff Vance. The list was published on February 9, 2013 as a prelude to his upcoming story “10 Hot Cloud Startups to Watch” for CIO.com.  Among several factors determining who made the final cut, including viability of product, competitive advantages and management team's pedigree, there was a voting process.  Well, it looks like we did pretty well in the vote, because we made the top 10 list out this week on CIO.com.  In fact, in the article Jeff says we won the vote!

We appreciate the show of support for AppZero and our application migration technology that helped us make the top 10.  There’s going to be a final round of voting on CIO.com to rank the companies on the top 10 list.  Please help us by voting for AppZero here.
 

One of the biggest challenges in a startup is that there are so many things you have to do. In the very beginning, the company must progress from idea to product.  Then the original product idea for some reason does not make grade (not compelling enough, too competitive a market, etc.) and the company has to pivot from the original premise.

The other foundational ingredient needed to create a great company is the team. The team is critical -- they test, scrutinize and kick around the original idea, which more often than not, pivots or morphs into a better one.  Only a tight-knit team can distill the benefits and core value lurking underneath the surface of an immature prototype while dealing with time pressures. Running out of cash, proving the viability of the product, acquiring customers and closing financing are just a few of the time pressures that can tear a team apart.

Once the use cases have been narrowed and external trials begin to yield positive results, the operational focus moves to scaling the business. The “go to market”; Sales 2.0, viral marketing, social media, and generally “the task of becoming known” are the critical steps in the evolution of a startup.  When I was CEO of Sonic Software back in the early 2000s, there were contests for the best Java product. A great deal of our energy went into winning the awards for best Java Messaging System (JMS) and first, best and only Enterprise Service Bus (ESB).

Today at AppZero, we are fortunate enough to have been selected as one of the 25 Hot Cloud Startups by Startup 50, published by Jeff Vance. The list was published on February 9, 2013 as a prelude to his upcoming story “10 Hot Cloud Startups to Watch” for CIO. The top ten vote getters from the list of 25 will make it into that story. 

Please help us make the cut by voting for AppZero here.

AppZero has now gone through the pivot, been scrutinized in long proofs of concepts (POCs) for months at a time, by many of the largest cloud providers (7 out of  the top 10 by my count) and software companies in the world.  The good news is that the product is getting the job done.

Our product does something that is very simple at 10,000 feet. We pick up applications that are in production and move them to another machine. This is cool because migrating existing applications to the cloud is hard.

AppZero can move applications over lunch -- other approaches take days. The newest capability allows you to move applications “Up-level OS versions.”  This is interesting because Windows Server 2003 is coming to end of life (EOL) and will no longer be supported by Microsoft. All of those machines and applications need to be upgraded to WS2008 or WS2012. Modernizing by upgrading your hardware and OS is really painful and IT hates doing it.

These two use cases; moving to the cloud and moving to a new version of an OS can be combined to achieve modernization (OS up level) and transformation (moving to the cloud) all at once – fast.

Most readers will never have heard of AppZero or our ability to move apps to the cloud. If you like the idea, please vote for AppZero to make the Top 10 here at Startup 50. Thanks in advance for your support.

I am always looking for a way to communicate better and cut to the heart of any discussion. So, if you have thoughts on this subject drop me a line at GregO {@} Appzero {dot} com or tweet me at @gregoryjoconnor.

 

 

Check out these 5-minute videos:

Migrating enterprise applications to the cloud:

Rackspace: Moving Wordpress from the Data Center to the Cloud

HP: Moving Wordpress from the Data Center to the Cloud

Joyent: Moving Wordpress from the Data Center to the Cloud

Migrating enterprise applications up level OS versions:

Up-level OS - Move applications from WS2000 to WS2008 (R2) in minutes

Migrating SQL Server from Windows 2000 to Windows 2012 in minutes

 

HP’s Converged Cloud and AppZero –simplifying deployment paths for the enterprise

By - Greg O'Connor

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time with several teams in the HP Cloud Services organization. HP made great strides in 2012 delivering on what they call the “Converged Cloud”.

HP’s Converged Cloud offers the enterprise a spectrum of cloud offerings from a private cloud hosted by the enterprise to a public cloud hosted by HP. There are a few flavors in the middle - virtual private clouds (hosted by HP but “dedicated” to the enterprise tenant), which come managed and unmanaged. As the saying goes different courses for different horses and HP has got the enterprise covered no matter what the future track.

It’s pretty clear that the enterprise is still reluctant to move certain applications into the public cloud. Security, availability, vendor lock-in and enterprise SLAs are a few of the well documented concerns (real or imaginary) that stop the wholesale migration out of the data center to the public account. As the cloud market matures, the desire to get the agility and cost savings for new and legacy applications that run your business grows stronger. CFOs and CEOs are becoming more involved in cloud related business decisions.

At AppZero, we’ve had many discussions with IT leaders who plan to empower business unit mangers to choose whatever cloud they want to run their applications. This represents a marked departure from the developer who chooses a cloud for building an application for test and development purposes. Now business leaders want to choose a cloud vendor that can scale and meet their business objectives and it may not be the cloud where the application lives and breathes forever.

Here is a question that in the IT world is equivalent to asking about gun control: Who should decide which cloud is best for which business application, the application developer or the business manager? (You can now see how controversial the question can be.)

The flexible architecture provided by HP’s Converged Cloud allows the enterprise to deploy and manage applications across the private/public cloud spectrum with a single vendor - HP.
HP Cloud Services is based on OpenStack® technology, which is one of the keys to providing consistency of operations between private and public clouds. OpenStack lays the foundation and is setting the open standards that will help ensure smooth migration between clouds.

Quickly migrating to the cloud or across clouds is where AppZero specializes. AppZero’s Zapp Migrator separates the applications from the operating system they are installed on and moves them to another machine in minutes. Picking up the application and moving only the application seems unusual until you understand the power and flexibility of our application isolation approach.

When migrating applications, there are often many surrounding environmental factors that come into consideration. Migrations have to be able to deal with the following changes:

  1. Physical to Virtual – Believe it or not there are still many applications running on bare metal.
  2. Hypervisors – Most enterprises use VMware which is often not the case in the cloud.
  3. Data Center to Cloud – Many migration tools do not support all clouds.
  4. Time – Moving just the application is 50 to 500 times faster than moving VMs (Migrations done during lunch compared to a day or 2). How long is your maintenance window?
  5. Cloud Type – Just moving the application allows for great flexibility in cloud-type choices (IaaS, Managed Service Provider, PaaS). Moving VMs is only viable for IaaS cloud types.
  6. OS version changes – Many applications in the enterprise are running on WS2003 and most clouds are running WS2008(R2)*. VM migration cannot help here.

*The latest version of AppZero Zapp migration even allows moving applications from WS2000 to WS2008(R2). Here is a great video of moving SQL2000 running on WS2000 to WS2008 (R2) in 5 minutes.

Migrations from old to new, from private to public, quickly and easily are key considerations in fulfilling the Converged Cloud vision. When it comes to adopting Cloud choices, the enterprise should plan on the track changing and be prepared to ride a variety of horses. There will be many approaches, products and designs that attempt to lower the cost and risk of change. At AppZero we believe we have a unique approach to the thorny issues that the enterprise is facing in adopting the cloud.

I am always looking for a way to communicate better and cut to the heart of any discussion. So, if you have thoughts on this subject drop me a line at GregO {@} Appzero {dot} com or tweet me at @gregoryjoconnor.

Moving enterprise apps to the cloud? Check out this 2-minute video.

Vegas, IBM, innovation, cloud, and a good scotch

By - Greg O'Connor

Vegas to Boston, with a nice glass of scotch in my hand, I settled in for yet another red eye flight (I am getting way too old for this).  There was plenty of time to reflect on what had been a jam packed couple of days at the IBM Impact 2012 global conference themed, “Innovate, Transform, Grow.”  Already in high gear, our partnership with IBM was highlighted in a 451 Research report IBM chooses AppZero as application virtualization partner for SmartCloud written by Rachel Chalmers @rachelchalmers.

The 451 report walks readers through IBM’s strategic vision and business drivers, right into the challenges and obstacles of getting Windows applications on to their SmartCloud as seen through the eyes of IBM Distinguished Engineer Mac Devine.  The Director and CTO for IBM’s SmartCloud portfolio, Mac was the one who initiated a partnership between appzero and CohesiveFT to smooth cloud on-boarding as well as enable hybrid and federated SmartCloud deployments. 

The piece concludes with the observation that appzero is, “strategically critical to IBM's ability to extract workloads from its customers' proprietary environments and run them on IBM's own relatively open cloud.”  It was a good way to kick off appzero’s run at Impact in Vegas.

The theme of innovation was underscored by the opening keynote delivered by Steve Jobs biographer, Walter Isaacson. Walter did a masterful job of weaving Steve stories into the 100 year history of ground breaking, mind-bogglingly innovative IBM firsts.  He then launched into an exploration of the attributes great innovators have shared throughout history — Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and of course, Steve Jobs.

Seeing Jobs on stage, in spirit, as the opening keynote for IBM,  talking about innovation made me think of how I would remake Apple’s iconic commercial “Why 1984 Won’t Be Like 1984”. In my version

“Why Cloud Won’t Be Just for New Apps,” with Amazon cast as Big Brother. It would go something like this:

"Today we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Cloud Purification Directives. [IBM's hammer-thrower enters, pursued by a horde of Bezos clone troopers.]

We have created for the first time in all history a developer pure sand box, where each developer may code, secure from all annoying considerations of any business needs.

Our unification of one-button click-to-buy is more powerful than any Pure System or Linux Cloud on earth.

We are one Cloud, with one sandbox, one large EC2 instance, one giant S3 LUN.

Our enemies shall talk themselves out of private or hybrid cloud and we will bury them with their own confusion. [Hammer is thrown at the screen]

We shall prevail!” [Boom!]

Did I mention that I had not really slept in 4 days and might have had a scotch or two before getting on the plane? With or without scotch, we are seeing cloud mature beyond dev/test and new/greenfield apps only – shifting from the early day developer-lead paradigm to a maturing, top-down focus on business needs. 

Meeting with some of the largest technology innovators, we are seeing two interesting trends:

1.)  For born-in-the- enterprise apps, our customers want to migrate just their application to the cloud (private, hybrid or managed).  In effect, they are leaving their “mess” behind, exchanging it for a consistent operational stack at cloud scale.

2.)  For born-on-the-cloud apps, our customers want to take control of the dev sand box and move newly developed applications back in house, or to a provider with a higher SLA – perhaps even a dedicated provider. The developer may well have started off in the Amazon sand box, but where does the business want to conduct business?

These questions, which call for moving enterprise applications, are not well answered by moving machines/VMs/OS/servers. With a nod toward Steve Jobs, I’ll take a note from Apple’s old well known, if grammatically challenged, tagline:

Think different.

And here’s how to start. We have this strange little video that shows our zapp migration tool in action.  zapp extracts an application from AWS and moves it, along with all of its configuration and data to the SmartCloud in under 5 minutes. You can zapp a SQL Server 2008 DB to the cloud in 8 minutes; a Websphere Application Server (WAS) and app in 7. 

Consider that to just install either one of these assets takes 1 hour and many more hours to configure and turn into production apps. App zapping with appzero is 50-500 times faster than any other way to move an app to the cloud. Which lets you do something that can be even tougher than thinking differently…….

Act differently.

I am always looking for a way to communicate better and cut to the heart of any discussion. So, if you have thoughts on this subject drop me a line at GregO {@} Appzero {dot} com or tweet me @gregoryjoconnor or us @appzero_inc.  

 

Register to attend: Technical take: ‘zapp’ Windows server apps to any cloudDoes automating the identification and extraction of Windows server applications for migration to any cloud sound almost too good to be true? Then join appzero CEO Greg O’Connor and CTO Giovanni Boschi as they take a technical view of appzero’s newly released zapp migration. Automate migration of production apps to any cloud…. join us Wednesday, May 23rd @ 1pm EDT. Register now>>

Migrating to the cloud: Managed Providers quest for uniformity

One of my favorite jobs was working in corporate development and looking at companies to acquire back at Progress Software. We had a couple hundred million in the bank, low single digit organic growth, margins expanding from 20% by 2 or 3% per year, and had gotten addicted to buying top line revenue to “juice” our top line. 

Corporate development got to go shopping for acquisitions, meeting with tons of small to medium sized companies to find the next one that met our model and fit our strategy. We called the activity around this shopping “kissing frogs” and “turning over rocks.”  When we found a live one, I would:

  1. vet them
  2. buy them,  and
  3. run like hell – far away from the integration team.

Why run?  Because no matter how diligently one does due diligence, there is always a difference between the “story” (business-as-promised) and the “install” (business-as-practiced). Once the board signed off on the company’s proposition, value, and financials, the hard work of learning how to productively “live together” began – and the age-old difference between selling and installing quickly became apparent.

No matter how hard you squinted, few of the companies we talked with were going to turn into a prince and dramatically change the vector of the company. Realistically, everyone knows that most deals fail to meet expectations. (At Progress we batted about 400.)

Here’s how it works with managed providers on the story-sell-install timeline:

The Story: Dear CIO; as your provider, we can run and manage the operational part of your data center more efficiently than you can. Afterall, we have efficiencies of scale, proven superior best practices, and there will be a “clean” line of demarcation between the app that performs the business function and the pesky infrastructure that makes the apps run. We will modernize your aging data center, move “your mess” and run it for “less.” This arrangement will save you money, free your folks to focus on your ‘core competencies’ of providing what the business needs, and we will provide you with better SLAs because we are experts.

The Sell:  What’s not to love about that story? The strategic rationale is clear (focus on the business) and the financial model is one my mother could understand (it’s cheaper). Oh sure, yeah there was a bit of heart burn about taking way loyal-employee-#25’s  badge and making him an employee of our new partner Mr. Service Provider. But, in the end, it makes great business sense. So, the deal flies through all the committees and gets signed off by the board.

The install:  Here’s where it all starts to go downhill. Where selling and installing meet. How do all those legacy applications get transformed into the brave new world? Answer: They don’t. They get “temporarily” moved -- lock, stock, and barrel with their existing infrastructures – along with the promise that they will be modernized later. Much later. .. because that transformation is labor-intensive, time-consuming, and expensive. In order to run as efficiently as possible, the MSP quest is to have all the apps on a uniform operating stack (hardware, OS, patch level, security, monitoring, back-up, etc). One-offs mean diversity and diversity destroys margins. 

Normally, MSPs are faced with a long, linear, labor-intensive effort to move an application that includes 1) capture, 2) extract, 3) operation-alize and then 4) transform. The linear approach takes a long period of time with no assurance that transformation will ever occur.  There are few tools that automate the process and it’s tedious as well as error-prone.

appzero is making that approach obsolete with a product designed specifically for easy, flexible extraction and transformation of applications. Extraction and transformation occur simultaneously with delivery to operations. The MSP does the transformation concurrently with the extraction. 

Consider this analogy: Before ETL tools existed, companies would dump a DB to a spreadsheet. It would be up to a person to manually de-dup, clean, augment, validate, and then reload into the data warehouse. When ETL came along, it sent this approach back to the Stone Age for all but the tiniest of companies. Today, appzero is the ETL equivalent when it comes to moving applications from data center to MSP, or cloud. Swift and efficient.

The appzeo approach of transforming an application during the move guarantees that the applications are running on an operations stack that is homogenous, uniform and consistent. And there you have your competitive advantage. A clean match between “the story” and the “install” means good-bye to one-off margin-destroying diversity and hello to robust, predictable profit margins.

Join me and IBM cloud CTO Mac Devine – as we do a show and tell webinar.

Cloud migration automation; on-board complex enterprise applications

I am always looking for a way to communicate better and cut to the heart of any discussion. So, if you have thoughts on this subject drop me a line at GregO {@} Appzero {dot} com or tweet me @gregoryjoconnor or @appzero_inc.

 

Register to attend: “Cloud migration: automate on-boarding of complex apps”  Moving production applications to the cloud doesn’t have to take heavy lifting. Join IBM Cloud CTO Mac Devine and AppZero CEO Greg O’Connor as they demonstrate the automation of migrating production applications to any cloud.  Find out how to on-board complex enterprise applications unattended. Join us Thurs, Mar 29th @ 1pm EDT register now>>

MoneyCloud – The art of winning an unknown game*

(……*or yet another blog about Moneyball (YABAM)… ) As usual, I had an agenda in mind when my engineering team and I headed across town to watch “Moneyball.” An excellent movie for companies to watch as a group, the topic and goal is ‘winning.’ The key to winning? Get on base. Getting there doesn’t have to be pretty.

We know the big winners of cloud computing today – Amazon, Rackspace, VMware … Microsoft and the usual suspects lining up to plant their flags. That’s the easy part. The hard part is knowing who will be the winners in the next 2-5 years. 

One thing I know about those new winners is that they will be completely obvious … in retrospect. 

The winners will have been disruptive, yes. But they will have been disruptive in a way that is practical. Disruptive in a way that solves a problem moving to cloud creates. Because greatness is not a product of doing something old in a new way, but of doing something great in a new way. Bonus points for doing it in a way that is also straight-forward.

Case in point: Michael Lewis’ wildly successful 2003 book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game chronicles the payroll-disadvantaged Oakland A’s victorious adoption of pioneering metrics under general manager Billy Beane. Forced by the mother of invention to find a way to turn $41 million in salary into a Goliath slayer of teams spending over $125 million in payroll, Billy Beane made himself first a laughing stock, and then a leader.  Today, teams that play Moneyball are the norm – and the methods/metrics are inarguably obvious… looking back.

As CEO of a company with disruptive-side technology that speeds and automates enterprise adoption of Cloud for production applications, I saw many lessons in the movie.  I wanted to make sure everyone in appzero saw them as well:

  • You can’t win by doing something old in a new way. You have to play differently and more effectively than the well-funded, established giants be they the New York Yankees or VMware.
  • Being different is no day at the ball park. Main Street will not get it and will trash your idea … until the wins become obvious.
  • While it is new, “new” gets (mis)understood in terms of traditional.
  • Tenacity– knowing your core beliefs and sticking to them is not optional. You cannot quit and fold if you are 10 games behind in May.
  • Leaders of the company have to constantly communicate the goal and reinforce it with supporting activities. “Get on base” means “get on base.” Don’t steal, ever.
  • Going all in is the only way. The whole team has to be all in as well.
  • Fire anyone on your team who is a non-believer. Period.
  • Trading away talent (Pena) or losing it (Giambi, Damon, Isringhausen) is not fatal.
  • Overnight success doesn’t happen overnight. It is gut level and stressful. Your family will see this pressure on you no matter how hard you try to hide it, so …. 
  • …. make time for the wins that last a lifetime.
  • Free food has a good return on team motivation.

When the credits have rolled, the metaphors and emotions distill to a simple line of reasoning: 1) The goal is to win, 2) Winning means getting more runs than the other guy which starts at the beginning … 3) Get on base.

For startups, the get-on-base equivalent goal is to get customers. Not to be over looked is the requirement to do so in a capital efficient way that scales customer acquisition at little or no cost. Today’s incumbent winners – the ones who triumphed in the last great platform shift– are now competitively disadvantaged in the cloud economy. Saddled with an expensive legacy sales force, pitching million dollar deals, they are up against a cloud business model of self-service, a credit card, and instant gratification. My money is on a stat that combines quick turn-around, low cost, and scalable customer adoption. That stat will correlate very closely to success, failure, and return on equity.

When it comes to creating enterprise value, appzero does something different, and does it differently: We make complex enterprise applications moveable – in part because we encapsulate them for travel without the burden of a VM or OS. It makes so much sense to send an application-centric tool to do the application-centric job of moving applications.  Yet, we are frequently in conversations that are dominated by the incumbent notion that an application must travel on a VM with an OS in tow. The good news is that the largest organizations in our industry are now actively engaged with us in what Michael Lewis calls *the ruthless drive for efficiency that capitalism demands*.

I am always looking for a way to communicate better and cut to the heart of any discussion. So, if you have thoughts on this subject drop me a line at GregO {@} Appzero {dot} com or tweet me @gregoryjoconnor or us @appzero_inc.

 

Register to attend: “Cloud migration automation; on-board complex enterprise applications” Join AppZero CEO Greg O’Connor and CTO Giovanni Boschi as they demonstrate a tool that automates the migration of production applications to any cloud. Find out how to on-board complex enterprise applications unattended. The intended audience for this webinar is anyone interested in, or responsible for moving enterprise applications to or from datacenters and clouds.  It will be of particular interest to Managed Service Providers looking to increase their MRR by giving their customers a solution that easily migrates applications to their cloud. Join us on Thursday, March 29th @ 1pm EST  register now>> 

Naming the app that moves the apps: contest confidential

What do you call a tool for moving complex enterprise applications to the cloud? That’s what we wanted to know. So we ran a contest, kicking it off at Cloud Expo. (AppZero announces contest to name tool that automates the movement of Windows applications to and from any clouds

First, we had to simply and clearly describe the tool which we did as follows: 

  • AppZero's migration tool automatically moves enterprise applications to, from, and amongst clouds without engineering or lock-in. 

Next, we had to put the technology in its market context:

  • “As enterprises embrace the cloud for production applications, application mobility and portability stand as either inhibitors or enablers of [adoption].  AppZero is absolutely in the lead with this automation breakthrough.  Let’s find a name that captures the reality as well as the excitement.”

We’d already seen that people have a hard time understanding that the tool works like this:

  1. This tool is designed to move applications that have been installed and running, perhaps years ago, with or without any documentation.
  2. It automatically moves the application from the source machine to a different target machine. 
  3. The tool moves only the application of interest.  It does not move any of the other applications that may also be on the source machine. (… thus making it a perfect extraction and migration tool for Managed Services/Cloud Providers ….)

And we were off to the races. Within a week we had a hundred or so entries; by contest’s end we had just over 200. Quality? All over the map. But surprisingly, there were many sound and thoughtful ideas. We asked, not only for a name, but for the reasoning behind it. Here’s a sampling, (along with my thoughts). Hint: the winner is in this list. See if you can pick out the name we chose.

The "App"-licants

  • AppMagic -- because if you can pull this off, it’s magic (We agree – join our beta and give it a try)
  • AppMove -- because it best represents what the tool does (as did appMover, and all motion variants)
  • Appeeler -- It peels apps from the host :) (‘appeeling’ as this one is, we chose another)
  • Apptime -- You save time using this tool. It might bring to memory nap time which is what you will have plenty of if you used the tool (agility= moving an app during lunch time, not days)
  • AppSnap -- Move apps in a snap to (and from) the cloud (and it rhymes)

The Cloud Crowd

  • Cloudwalker -- The app will go from cloud to cloud (light sabre optional)
  • Cloud Hop -- You move from cloud to cloud (… or back to the data center)
  • Cloud Care -- Takes care of uploading to the cloud (well, you do have to point and click)
  • CloudMerge -- Simple and powerful… brings all clouds together in a simple way (the apps can run unchanged on any cloud, but we don’t actually change the clouds)

The Lone Wolves

  • App2Cloud -- It's a simple name that fits in with AppZero concept and tells the user what it is & does ( clever -- both app and cloud)
  • Win2cloud -- From Windows to Cloud (Linux beta is coming soon to a cloud near you)
  • zApp -- I think that zApp is a very descriptive name for branding and to stand apart from Microsoft and VMware (zapp – the app is in the cloud … to zapp = make enterprise apps moveable)
  • Frank -- Frank is a solid name, memorable, catchy and I’d love to hear people talking about "using frank" (What does it say about the folks at AppZero that this entry was on everyone’s short list?)
  • SOMO – A soccer mom knows each of her charges; when, where and what they need to bring to perform right (Amen sistah -- I’m married to one)
  • APOWSADA "Ah-POW-Sad-Ah" -- Just made the acronym: Automated Packaging Of Windows Server And Desktop Applications (because the world is just a few acronyms short of perfection….loved the phoenetic guide to pronunciation)
  • WindFlow -- Apps flow easily from the data center to the cloud - just like a summer wind (the concept is right on, but I think we’ll save this one for the AppZero/Kardashianperfume project)

All kidding aside, I have always been a big fan of creative crowd sourcing and this experience was no exception. The contest was a lot of fun and very helpful. It also gave me a window into understanding how the real world views our product. I like the view. And I appreciate the interest. Thanks to each one of you who took the time to help us out.

The winning name and commercial release are just around the bend, so stay tuned. Till then, we are actively listening to any ideas, suggestions, or use cases. We are still looking for Beta testers to vet, refine and try this tool (Beta test drive here). To see this tool in action, you can watch a video of moving a somewhat simple Wordpress application from the Amazon AWS cloud to the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise (SCE).

I am always looking for a way to communicate better and cut to the heart of any discussion. So, if you have thoughts on this subject drop me a line at GregO {@} Appzero {dot} com or tweet me @gregoryjoconnor or us @appzero_inc.  

ISVs caught in the chasm: between heaven and earth -- SaaS and on-premises

Software as a Service (SaaS) is the darling of today’s real world, enterprise-impacting cloud computing use cases.  Industry analysts and research firms are tripping over each other extolling mega-CAGR for SaaS, with the 451 Group going so far as attributing 75% of PaaS spending for use cases that are attached to SaaS deployments. 

In its 2011 research report “Cloud Computing Takes Off,” Morgan Stanley is bullish on the future of PaaS stating, “The low capex requirements, robust cloud enablement and rapidly improving developer toolsets are significantly lowering the barriers to entry for new application development [emphasis mine] – both in terms of cost and time to market. 

Great.  So the future is bright for new application development heading to the cloud. What about ISVs who have existing applications? Driven to the margin-eroding SaaS model, ISVs frequently find that their largest customers are not willing to surrender the on-premises option. 

The SaaS/on-premises tension sets up a complex series of challenges for the ISV including questions of business models, maintenance of multiple product versions, and updating of software to name a few issues. With apologies to last century’s poet Robert Frost, smart money may rest on the ultimate victory of SaaS, but there are miles to go before on-premises sleeps. 

There is – and will continue to be -- a lot of business in existing applications and the on-premises model.

In future blogs I’ll explore ways ISVs can use AppZero to navigate this changing market. But, for now, I’m offering a white paper about the universal need to successfully sell your software.  Titled AppZero Use Case for Software Vendors: Sales Cycle , this paper introduces the ways AppZero can strip the labor required to configure and implement your PoCs and demos – whether on site or in the cloud. Resulting business gains include:

  • Slash configuration and installation time to zero, decreasing the cost of sales, improving PoC quality, maximizing SE resources, and increasing win rate with associated revenue
  • Easily deliver complex systems fully and accurately pre-configured
  • Improve customer experience and perception of quality and competence
  • Focus high-skilled technical service professionals on high-value services rather than on low-margin, repetitive, labor-intensive work that can be automated
  • Reduce time to value for customers and speed time to revenue

The intended audience for this paper is anyone responsible for generating software sales revenue, supporting a software sales cycle, or implementing software for a customer.  Independent software vendor (ISV) sales, professional services, and sales engineers will be particularly interested in how AppZero software can directly impact the sales cycle, while IT professionals will find advantages in the time saved throughout the product lifecycle.

I am always looking for a way to communicate better and cut to the heart of any discussion. So, if you have thoughts on this subject drop me a line at GregO {@} Appzero {dot} com or tweet me at @gregoryjoconnor

Moving enterprise apps to the cloud? Check out this 2-minute video.

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