Monday, January 07, 2013

State Street: Cloud isn't just a technology exercise

Over at Forbes, Joe McKendrick did a nice interview with Chris Perretta, the CIO of State Street, about the cloud computing initiatives going on there.

There's not a lot of detail about the technical aspects. What's there though are some nice insights into how State Street thinks about cloud computing and how they're using it to transform their business. A couple of excerpts:

We use cloud as a shorthand; it really is a complete view of the application delivery mechanism, the application frameworks that we use, and our ability to share real core components of our technology environment.  A large chunk of what we do we write, and are realizing a lot of savings, efficiencies and capabilities in sharing new development frameworks across our enterprise, built into our cloud infrastructure. We can really move our development activities a lot faster than we have in the past.  We’re also turbo charging our efforts to provide much more data insights for our customers, opposed to just top-level processing than we have done for them in the past.

A couple of things jump out for me. The first is that cloud isn't about plopping down some piece of technology. Rather, it's really about transforming enterprise IT. Common sense, perhaps, but I still find there's often too much focus on point products in cloud discussions. The second is the discussion around accelerating development. Everything I see suggests that, far from turning software into some kind of standardized utility, cloud computing seems to be ushering in what Gartner's Eric Knipp has called "a golden age of enterprise application development." (I discussed this trend in more detail last December.)

I think we’ll see the day where our cloud will be accessible to our clients — in fact, it is today. We’re building features here where customers actually load their data, and we keep data on their behalf. They can manipulate that data, they can join it, they can look at it in different ways, they can in essence write applications.

I'm not sure you could read a much more emphatic example of why you can't gain security just through defending the network perimeter. There is no inside and outside. Or, really, everyone's inside. Sharing happens pervasively. That's not to say there's no difference between a private cloud and a public cloud; indeed, State Street made a deliberate decision to build own cloud rather than using public cloud resources. But even if you've got a private cloud, you need to focus on things like multi-tenant security—which Red Hat's Matt Hicks has spoken and written about extensively.

I suggest reading the whole interview. It's not long but good stuff. State Street was a 2012 Red Hat Innovation Award winner for "OUTSTANDING OPEN SOURCE ARCHITECTURE: Recognition of a combination of Red Hat's platform, middleware, cloud and/or storage solutions to create innovative architectures based on Red Hat solutions."

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