My manager once told me that if I could make my kids understand cloud, I could make anyone understand it. But how do you explain cloud technology to an eight-year old? I’ll try by using an analogy that is familiar to everyone. Pizza.
First, let’s put this on the table. Information technology is all about change and the ability to adapt to changing environments. Public cloud helps businesses adapt quickly, but sometimes do-it-your-self IT works very well for a company.
Adopting cloud-like economics changes the delivery of IT to the business and the way the business consumes IT. It is not easy for an IT department to transform from a cost-based model to a cloud-based model. This process takes time and requires both technical and organizational adoptions. Now, let’s compare this process to something everyone will understand: preparing and enjoying pizza.
- You can prepare a pizza at home
- You can pick up a premade, but-not-cooked-yet pizza
- You can have a premade and precooked pizza delivered to your home
- You can decide go out for pizza
You decide which scenario is best for you, but in the end, it’s still about eating and enjoying the pizza.
Stage 1. Pizza Made at Home or Traditional On-Premise IT
Traditional on-premise IT, often referred to as “legacy”, is how we used to do things. Everything is in-house and delivered by the IT department to the business. The IT department is in control and determines how IT services are built, composed and delivered.
In my pizza example, this stage can be compared to making a pizza in-house that you bake yourself. That means you need a complete infrastructure in-house to get this done. The benefit of this method is that you have complete control over the ingredients and preparation of the pizza and you can customize it the way you want it.
Stage 2. Take-and-Bake Pizza or Infrastructure as a Service
Preparing and baking the pizza takes time. What if the supermarket sells the pizza ready to bake? If this ready-to-bake pizza works for you, it saves you from having to make the dough and prepare the pizza. You still need infrastructure like an oven and dining table to finalize and consume the pizza though.
When we translate this model to IT, we talk about Infrastructure as a Service, where the IT solutions are offered as a complete- and ready-to-use package. The vendor offers solutions and you provide servers, storage and networking to deliver the IT services to the business.
Stage 3. Pizza Delivery or Platform as a Service
Let’s take it to the next level. Why not buy the pizza premade, cooked and ready to eat? Just call the pizza place and use your credit card to pay for it. Now you don’t have to make the pizza or manage the oven and gas, and the pizza is delivered to you when you want to consume it. Less infrastructure is needed in-house and you save the time and money that was needed to maintain the oven.
Platform as a Service delivers a similar model in the IT world. You don’t need to worry about hardware anymore. You buy IT services as a complete package including servers, storage and connectivity. This concept enables managed service providers to grow their market and offer services at pay-for-what-you-use rates. IT is no longer a cost center for an organization and long-term investments are no longer needed. This gives you more flexibility to change your IT vendor. Why not order a pizza from the New Yorker instead of the Pizza Hut?
Stage 4. Dining Out or Software as a Service
The final option is that you visit an Italian restaurant of your choice to enjoy your pizza — completely independent of your home. You may pay more for services but it offers you the most flexibility.
Public cloud vendors offer these types of IT services to the business. Everything is off-premise and the business has the flexibility to choose and change providers without the need to invest in hardware.
Lenovo supports all four stages: Lenovo servers that fit perfectly in an on-premise configuration as well as complete converged solutions for managed service providers to build a cloud stack to offer Software as a Service. Lenovo also publishes reference architectures that offer standard building blocks that managed service providers can use as a starting point for their cloud. See Lenovo and VMware vCloud Suite and vRealize Suite with SDDC and Lenovo and Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform.
I hope I explained cloud in a way everyone could understand. If nothing else, you are probably hungry for a pizza. I encourage you to reach out to your Lenovo representative and learn more about Lenovo servers and how Lenovo reference architectures can be a fit for your cloud. After you eat pizza of course!