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Businesses Cloud

GE CTO On Moving 9,000 Apps To the Public Cloud 123

StewBeans writes: The Wall Street Journal recently published a special report on the staggering growth of the hybrid cloud, citing research from multiple sources, including survey results from Gartner indicating that 75% of large enterprises planned to take advantage of the hybrid cloud by end of this year. The article said that, "CIOs are demanding a way to combine the best of the cloud with their own localized data centers. Few companies or organizations are willing or able to move all of their IT to the public cloud." GE is apparently one of those few companies, because the CTO of Cloud for GE recently wrote that they are moving the vast bulk of their 9,000 applications into the public cloud. In the article, he explains how they came to this counterintuitive decision, their strategy for moving so many apps to the cloud, and why he's more optimistic about the public cloud versus hybrid or private.
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GE CTO On Moving 9,000 Apps To the Public Cloud

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  • by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @09:12PM (#50852283)

    survey results from Gartner indicating that 75% of large enterprises planned to take advantage of the hybrid cloud by end of this year

    Gartner reports that enterprises they surveyed "have plans". Just roll your eyes and walk away.

    • survey results from Gartner indicating that 75% of large enterprises planned to take advantage of the hybrid cloud by end of this year

      Gartner reports that enterprises they surveyed "have plans". Just roll your eyes and walk away.

      Run far away from anything to do with Gartner...

  • by NFN_NLN ( 633283 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @09:13PM (#50852289)

    They're large enough and have enough of a cloud presence that they carry weight. Smaller companies moving to the cloud aren't going to get level of service they're expecting. Unless they pay for it of course, and then they'll find out running it in house would have been cheaper.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Even when you are large you sometimes get shit service. I could rattle off how much our service is making and how much we pay per month on SLA. Crap service. We are rewinding it all back into inhouse.

      • If you're big enough, you can negotiate SLA's with financial penalties for failing them.

    • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @10:10PM (#50852609) Journal

      Unless they pay for it of course, and then they'll find out running it in house would have been cheaper.

      In-house is almost always cheaper if you just look at server costs. But if you move enough stuff to the cloud you can get rid of a large chunk of your IT staff - it's a form of outsourcing. When that's true, you can come out way ahead. This is quite appealing to large companies that do all their IT grunt work through contractors anyhow - it's just a move from one group with contractual SLAs on service to another.

      The cloud is also more appealing for services where each tier is a highly-available, load-balanced, stateless sea of servers. That sort of thing really benefits from the trivial and immediate server replacement you have from the cloud providers. (Something's wrong with Server-447? Just drop it and provision a new one, 5 minutes max.) But for simpler services that advantage is lost in the noise of manual software deployment/config/etc to stand up a new box.

      • by Trepidity ( 597 )

        Reducing staff is the intent, but so far I'm not sure it's being realized. At least for the handful of companies where I have some view into how they're using AWS, they have an awful lot of people who look like IT staff, but have been rebranded from "sysadmin" to "devops". Some are even doing pretty similar things as before, like building and maintaining OS and application images, keeping up on security issues, writing big piles of scripts to automate deployment, etc. The forms are new (Ansible scripts, VHD

        • At least for the handful of companies where I have some view into how they're using AWS, they have an awful lot of people who look like IT staff, but have been rebranded from "sysadmin" to "devops".

          That's a good point

      • by jon3k ( 691256 )
        People also forget about networking and storage, along with the associated support staff. If you operate a very small staff already, you likely won't be able to get rid of anyone. But if you've got a mid to large staff, you can definitely make considerable cuts. But ..

        (Something's wrong with Server-447? Just drop it and provision a new one, 5 minutes max.)

        We had this before the cloud became popular, and still do. Who isn't running a (nearly) fully virtualized environment these days?

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          Everything's virtual, sure, but hosts fail, have disk problems, eventually age out, etc. It's a pain. I've done it both ways, and I really like having one less category of things to care about. Plus, if you ever need 300 added servers today, and tomorrow, but then the peak will pass, the cloud is nice for that.

          • by swb ( 14022 )

            IMHO, hosts seldom fail. PSUs fail (rarely), but who doesn't do redundant PSUs? HDDs fail, but all but the tiniest sites have centralized storage with double-parity RAID and two hot spares, so the failure is contained and ameliorated with no interaction past a 20 minute online ticket for a replacement hard disk.

            Aging out of hardware is a problem virtualization and centralized storage solved. You rack up a new host, install your software, patch, add to cluster, migrate VMs off the old host, done. I do th

          • by jon3k ( 691256 )
            Sure, you have to manage the hardware. We're talking about comparing a particular feature of the two deployment models. Of course, if you manage hardware you need humans to manage the hardware. But if we're talking about dealing with the failure of an individual guest or host, I don't see much of a difference between "the cloud" and a highly virtualized datacenter.

            As far as dealing with spikes in demand, you really have to think that there are two very different environments. There are internal IT d
            • by lgw ( 121541 )

              As far as dealing with spikes in demand, you really have to think that there are two very different environments. There are internal IT departments where demand spikes like that don't exist, and there are public facing operations (ie big web operations) where the cloud makes a lot more sense. I deal with the former, not the latter.

              There's a lot of truth to this idea, IMO. Right tools for the job. Moving your Exchange server to the cloud (or Office whatsit where MS does it all) is a very different kind of question than a web service. Moving either your DB or the servers that need it to the cloud, but not both, is consultant-level stupid.

              There are other cases too of course. For a software company, using the cloud to do all of your QA makes a lot of sense - I've been at several place that spend years developing cloudlike system to ma

      • That sort of thing really benefits from the trivial and immediate server replacement you have from the cloud providers. (Something's wrong with Server-447? Just drop it and provision a new one, 5 minutes max.) But for simpler services that advantage is lost in the noise of manual software deployment/config/etc to stand up a new box.

        That works really well for a simple web server, but in the real world of corporate applications, nothing could be further from the truth. First, apps must ships files between databases and themselves. In a private datacenter, that's over ethernet. In the cloud, it is often over disparate VPN connection, and worse of all, over your internet connection. How many companies willing to get a 10Gb ethernet pipe? Not many. So they get dedicated leased lines to AWS et al, otherwise their transaction times are

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          First, apps must ships files between databases and themselves. In a private datacenter, that's over ethernet. In the cloud, it is often over disparate VPN connection, and worse of all, over your internet connection. How many companies willing to get a 10Gb ethernet pipe?

          All my data is next to my servers these days, in the cloud, works well for me. Different tools for different jobs, perhaps?

          Now if you are using any shared storage, all bets are off.

          I remember the days of fibre channel. Seems like so long ago. What an expensive pain in the ass that was, the bad of days of trying to scale vertically instead of horizontally.

          plus cloud provider lock in (just try getting your database out of AWS and see what hidden costs there really are)

          True enough, but it's no picnic moving off of Oracle either. It's always going to suck if a key vendor goes bad (but what are the odds anyone will ever go as bad as Oracle?).

  • I love browsing private cloud data. I hope they upload more of it to check out.

    *any hacker anywhere

  • Makes sense (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 02, 2015 @09:23PM (#50852345)

    That way it will be easier to ship all of our IT responsibilities to India or China and not need any Americans involved. That entire cost center will be cut by 75%. What's not to like?

    What's that? Corporate espionage?

    Nah, they'll be paid well for their standard of living so they won't break the chain of trust. And besides there will be an iron clad contract in place, our lawyers will crush them in court if they do any monkey business.

    Such a worrywart! C'mon over here young man and pour me another brandy!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I used to work at GE, and I assure you that is essentially how this decision gets made. Gigantic bureaucratic mess of a corporation. The only employer in my professional career I was actively happy to leave. They were always quick to explain that their enormous legal department will quash any resistance, whether internal or external.

    • What's that? Corporate espionage?

      You mean GE actually has tech the Chinese would consider worth stealing?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Any company that has 9,000 apps is bloated and broken. GE is a financial services firm, so they make money by doing nothing, which keeps them bloated and broken and very profitable. No one should even bother to listen to them.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I thought GE made trains...
      • They also make wind turbines, jet engines, home appliances, medical equipment, and a whole lot more.

      • I thought they made the Fukushima nuclear reactors.

        And the engines for the Boeing 777

        And ultrasound machines

        And tugboat engines ...
        the list goes on.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      GE is a financial services firm,

      Last I heard they are getting rid of the financial services.

    • Spoken like someone who's never had a job in IT.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      GE's financial services (most of them, at least) have been spun off into Synchrony Financial and are now an independent company.

      • by afidel ( 530433 )

        Yup, the financial services wing has been under-performing the manufacturing part of the company since 2007 and because of GE's size they were going to be labelled a systemic risk by the Fed which would have brought a huge amount of auditing and capital requirements that would have further dragged on the company.

  • by crackspackle ( 759472 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @09:43PM (#50852461)

    Lance Weaver is the Chief Technology Officer for Cloud at GE Corporate. ... Lance holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Truman State University.

    "This interconnection oriented architecture means we contract with colocation facilities where we can place our inspection tools and GE services into dense meeting areas of the multi-cloud environment. These are places where you find many cloud providers under one roof and we can place our services, inspection and data sets within them to obtain cloud agnostic, high speed adjacency."

    "Another factor in making our journey to public cloud successful is our self-service (or what I call opt-in) approach, which allows business units to choose the services they wish to consume. People will naturally gravitate to high value, frictionless services"

    "Running inside a public cloud environment, you're able to consume unlimited capacity as needed. Today, we scale up and down thousands of times in a day while we handle peak loads or run experiments."

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      "This interconnection oriented architecture means we contract with colocation facilities where we can place our inspection tools and GE services into dense meeting areas of the multi-cloud environment. These are places where you find many cloud providers under one roof and we can place our services, inspection and data sets within them to obtain cloud agnostic, high speed adjacency."

      While spoken like a true executive, I don't think he's being idiotic besides tone and language.

      If they are structuring workloads to be cloud agnostic -- which only seems smart, then locating data centers where multiple providers are tenants is a pretty decent strategy. They guarantee maximum intra-provider bandwidth and low latency, allowing them to shift workloads between providers or build multi-provider clusters that might not work if you're spanning datacenters.

      All of this seems reasonable, as does Wal

    • I've come to appreciate corporate speak. I find it hugely amusing.

      That's really how it works.
      They read some new trend.
      They create a program on it.
      They fund that program.

      That's how things get done at these companies.

      I've been complaining for years about our build system and how much manual work goes into deploying a build, but no one wanted to change anything.

      Suddenly we get funding for *The Cloud*.
      Next thing you know, in order to get onto the cloud, we need to fix everything that needed fixing all that time

  • MBA alert (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "We support approximately 9,000 applications at GE, and our enterprise IT efforts right now are focused on moving the vast bulk of them into public cloud. This may sound like a counter-intuitive strategy, but here is why it’s a great fit for GE."

    MBA's bless 'em.

    "In our environment, like many others, we ran the bulk of our applications on-premise in private cloud and highly-virtualized environments. Yet we were still dealing with the challenges of demand spikes without sufficient capacity. We had the d

    • "So you didn't add capacity internally, you bought it externally, and thus lost the biggest advantage of using your own servers: control and security."

      Taken from another poster above... "Lance Weaver is the Chief Technology Officer for Cloud at GE Corporate. ... Lance holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Truman State University."

      So he probably knows nothing about computers but he probably knows about the real cost and value of "control and security" better than you.

      "There is no such t

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        This cloud thing really isn't new. From a VPS, to email, to simple web hosting - it's in the cloud. The name has just changed. It's like renting time on the mainframe and connecting via a dumb terminal, all over again. Some methods have changed, sure... Essentially? It's much the same. That which is old is new again.

        • by dave420 ( 699308 )

          It really isn't. We are talking about cloud infrastructure, not a little VPS or email. If you rented time on a mainframe and then decided you need 16 more mainframes in the next half hour, would that be possible in the old days? Unless you had a very peculiar (or expensive) provider, that wouldn't be possible. Cloud infrastructure scales remarkably well, for anyone who wishes to use it, and can scale up and down very quickly, depending on requirements.

          Squinting until it all looks the same so you can mak

          • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

            " If you rented time on a mainframe and then decided you need 16 more mainframes in the next half hour, would that be possible in the old days?"

            Yes. VMs started on mainframes. Learn some computer history.

          • by rayd75 ( 258138 )

            In the old days, prior to ubiquitous hardware virtualization, you would have paid for more CPU time or more sessions. The key point being that your provider would have placed your workload on a shared system with greater capacity than necessary. How could they justify this excess capacity? Easy! By charging you dearly for access to it when you needed it on short notice. Hmmm... Sure sounds familiar.

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            VMs aren't really all that new. They're just more popular. Yes, it's speedier. Most everything is. Not much squinting required, I don't think.

      • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

        "So he probably knows nothing about computers but he probably knows about the real cost and value of "control and security" better than you."

        Unfortunately for your idea and much to the dispair of accountants everywhere - knowing the cost and value of something is rarely enough. I might know the cost and value of every part in my cars engine but that doesn't mean I know the best servicing procedure or that I can fix it when it suddenly dies in the middle of nowhere at night in the pissing rain.

        Clearly this m

        • "Do you have an MBA by any chance?"

          Yes, I do have an MBA, but I only enrolled after more than 20 years of real technical background (and I mean real, not just knowing the buzzwords and managing people who have the technical knowledge), so I can see both sides of the pond.

          I see your point and you are probably right, but this doesn't mean this guy doesn't bring his own luggage which happens to be good knowledge and expertise for the position; it's only that it is not *all* the required knowledge and expertise

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      If you have a package to ship across the country, do you drive it there yourself, or do you give it to UPS? If you want to be connected to the internet, do you run your own fibers, etc, or contract with an ISP? If you want a server, do you build your own fab and make your own chips, or do you buy servers or components from someone else?

      All businesses rely on other businesses for critical things. They are called suppliers, and the way you do business with them is through a new invention called the contra

  • by bobthesungeek76036 ( 2697689 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @09:45PM (#50852471)
    I spent all last week hearing about the damn cloud and Oracle OpenWorld. And the company that I work for has their heads in the cloud now. It will be interesting how all the datacenters in the world are consolidated into these cloud providers. They are just making sweet targets for terrorists around the world...
    • And the company that I work for has their heads in the cloud now. It will be interesting how all the datacenters in the world are consolidated into these cloud providers. They are just making sweet targets for terrorists around the world...

      Hello friend, hopefully they don't share the same air conditioning controller.

  • You would think that a company like GE would be big enough to be able to have their own private cloud infrastructure.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @10:03PM (#50852565)
    Ever since outsourcing became a bad word in IT departments, the phrase "moving to the cloud" seems to have replaced it.

    .
    I guess it is better public relations for corporations to lay off IT workers when apps are "moved to the cloud" than when the "datacenter is being outsourced".

  • My personal opinion as a customer, GE is currently awful at supporting their SW. They require extremely specific builds under "FDA regulations" that only limit vendors from patching rather than customers (I.E. they certified SQL Server 2005, it is 2015 and you want to run SQL 20012? Nope, we don't support that even though the legislation says customers are allowed to update base systems). If a GE cloud goes live we can expect to be deploying HIPAA compliant applications on SQL 2012 in 2019 based on curre

    • by Seng ( 697556 )

      Agreed... Centricty... Cough Cough. Today's software on yesterday's vulnerable platforms!

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Monday November 02, 2015 @10:10PM (#50852613)

    I'm a proponent of the cloud when it makes sense, and think that companies should implement a private cloud for their own internal applications. I'm not so sure about a company putting everything out on the public cloud, nor whether the migration will complete. The article says they're 350 apps in, with 1000 targeted for the end of the year. In enterprise IT, an "app" can be anything from the crown jewels to Bob in Accounting's hosted Access database or Excel macros. I'm assuming they're starting with the Access database. :-)

    The thing I don't like about the public cloud is the real possibility for permanent vendor lock-in, IBM mainframe style. Prices are low now, but when all the competitors are driven out and the cloud bubble bursts, Amazon and Microsoft are going to slowly turn the prices up. Assuming the cloud provider isn't a security basket case, secure environments can be designed. But, this is GE we're talking about. I guarantee they're wallowing in outsourced-IT mediocrity and managing a massive bloated system. GE was the archetype for the 60s-style conglomerate, so I'm sure they have huge amounts of duplication. They probably have 30 SAP implementations and 20 Oracle ERP systems from the various divisions, acquisitions, etc.

    It'll be interesting to see what happens. Just don't forget, big company CIOs, that the public cloud is being subsidized by the latest round of VC funded web startups and phone apps. When that bubble bursts, expect vendors to make their money back in other ways...

    • > companies should implement a private cloud for their own internal applications

      So, a new word for the client-server architecture that's been around since the first terminal accessed the first mainframe?

      • So, a new word for the client-server architecture that's been around since the first terminal accessed the first mainframe?

        Well, no. Clouds are cluster-based and you can spin up resources as you need them. This is normally significant because of billing but it has other benefits as well. If a machine craters, new instances just come up on new machines. If machines are not used, they can put themselves to sleep; if you need more capacity, you can wake some machines up. So it's not the same as mainframe computing, and not even precisely the same as the traditional client-server model.

        • Ahh. So cloud = virtualized server with on-demand redundancy.

          OK. I get so sick of new buzzwords for old things, I tend to tune them out. It's nice to know this one actually has a useful difference behind it.

    • The thing I don't like about the public cloud is the real possibility for permanent vendor lock-in, IBM mainframe style.

      What many people don't realize is that this is why OpenStack is so popular. As cloud providers "standardize" on the OpenStack platform and APIs (except for AWS, which doesn't do it because they are the 900 lb gorilla in the market), they become interchangeable by nature. The common denominator for compatibility is how your provisioning and migration engine interfaces with the cloud provider. And if you're based on the OpenStack API, then you can basically migrate or provision your workloads on any provid

      • What you do not seem to realize is that there doesn't have to be a vendor lock-in. All machines should be under config management and orchestration if the environment is large enough (ie more than one box). All you need to do to leave a vendor is: 1. Stand up new, mirror infrastructure at vendor B (using tools mentioned above) 2. Replicate/copy data 3. QA/sanity check (although well put together CM will do that for you) 4. Say good-bye to vendor A. On the other hand, if you choose to set up all of your C
  • I work for a company that has to support several CRAPTASTIC GE medical apps. They can't keep the software running in a very limited Windows environment where the clients run on very specific support versions of Internet Explorer. They're planning on moving apps to the cloud where the clients might end up running on anything from Chrome to IE11? LAUGHING OUT LOUD. Not a snowball's chance in hell!

  • The ability for our business to access "The Cloud" is determined by Time Warner Cable. So, no.
  • I worked at GE on the same team as the Author a decade ago at the Toaster Division...err Consumer and Industrial.. Back then the company had distinct silos as to business units and it was a major pain just to move sites from one silo to another, we were directed to reIP and rename everything on a annual basis.

    Teams in each division spent months changing IP schemas of whole divisions because of an accounting change. We brought in new companies and spun new companies on a yearly basis. I think we sp
  • "GE recently wrote that they are moving the vast bulk of their 9,000 applications into the public cloud."

    What would any company need with 9,000 applications. Would lead to much inefficiencies and insecurities as there's no was to predict how emergent bugs would lead to security violations.
  • Ooh look, a link to enterprisersproject.com. It's almost enough to make you think there's a shill around.

  • I'm reading between $10K and $50K on cloud per year and you might as well have your own servers, this true?
  • Another sound technical decision, from the company that built the Fukushima nuclear reactors.

  • OK, if I am reading it right these CoLo hubs is GE putting all their eggs into one basket. Are they setting themselves up for a single point of failure?

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