The CIO of General Electric, Jim Fowler, is taking GE into the cloud. In the next three years, he plans to integrate 9,000 applications into a public IaaS. This will cause 30 of their data centers to now condense into just a few. This transition will not be an easy one. GE operates tens and thousands of apps, with over $117 billion in annual revenue. Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Chris Drumgoole, is looking to the community to help ease the process and challenges that GE may face.
Here are some of Drumgoole’s concerns:
GE has many industries – from energy, health care, and finance. All these industries are heavily regulated by protocols written under a contract of client to server. This assumes that a server, hypervisor and physical data center are all under control. In the cloud world, this contract doesn’t apply.
With a cloud, vendors provide all those components as a service to their customers. “The constructs of the regulations haven’t taken into consideration the advances in technology,” he adds. GE’s executive team believes that regardless the cloud is a good strategic decision, though their regulators, internal operators, partners and customers may think the opposite.
As GE’s IT team is introduced to the cloud services, some of the software developers and ops teams were hesitant to use it. “Some of the legacy, single-technology developers struggled with deploying and moving apps when we took away the support envelope of a traditional infrastructure team,” he says, adding that the challenge has largely been overcome, though it required a shift in mindset.
There is also a lot of sensitive data being exposed without proper protections. Many cloud platforms put up gates with people checking processes, this creates audit logs that can amount to overwhelming data dumps. Drumgoole expresses that this just isn’t going to be efficient.
He is also concerned that if they use the cloud all wrong, it can end up being extremely expensive. In order to have any substantial cost savings, they will have to fundamentally change the process of managing infrastructure and applications. “Instead of 10 people involved in a deployment cycle, it’s one, with a Reaper Box making sure they’re doing it right,” he says. “When you take out all of that outsourced contract labor, that’s where the real savings come in.”
“Software makers are taking too long to evolve their platforms to a true SaaS model. Simply hosting the application and charging a monthly fee doe not make it a true cloud app,” Drumgoole contends. He expresses that he would like to see another non U.S-based cloud provider of significant scale in the market to satisfy customers.
Since Drumgoole is learning from the process, he is hoping to make the process much easier in the future for others to feel comfortable taking the leap into the cloud.
How has your experience been with implementing the cloud?