Credit: Informa Ltd
It's easy to despair about the cloud computing industry and its seemingly endless navel-gazing. It often seems that the cloud crowd is more interested in internecine warfare than actually helping customers realize the benefits of this emerging platform. The prime example of this tech narcissism is the ongoing industry slugfest regarding private/public/hybrid cloud and what the "right" solution is.
Out in the real world of enterprise IT, however, organizations are adopting cloud computing with enthusiasm, which was displayed in full force at London's Cloud World Forum in June. One of the strengths of this conference is how it's able to entice end users to present case studies of their actual experience; this is a refreshing change from other cloud events that seem to serve primarily as opportunities for vendor marketing departments to pitch their products.
At this year's conference, two presentations captured this zeitgeist particularly well: one by Anthony Headlam, CTO of Jaguar Land Rover (commonly referred to as JLR), and the other by Simon Parkes, architect at the UK Ordnance Survey. Both outlined IT organizations under considerable stress that responded by adopting new products and processes, resulting in significant improvement.
JLR: reorienting IT toward growth
JLR is, to a certain extent, proof that beloved brands can't be killed. Despite many changes of ownership, insufficient investment and, it must be said, the British automotive reputation for poor quality, both Jaguar and Land Rover have steadfast, dogged adherents. Jaguar and Land Rover were separate brands owned by Ford, which merged them to gain efficiencies of scale, before abruptly auctioning the combined entity to Indian automaker Tata Motors during the worst of the financial crisis. However, JLR has had a stunning comeback, as indicated by this chart:
As you can see, JLR has blossomed under independent ownership, doubling the numbers of cars sold and its total workforce, and tripling its revenues and investment.
It wasn't all good news at JLR, though. As Headlam explained, JLR's IT reflected infrastructure and practices of the previous decade; moreover, it suffered from extremely long application development and deployment processes. Finally, 90 percent of IT employees were consumed with merely keeping the lights on, which is a terrible -- if not fatal -- shortcoming, as cars become the ultimate mobile platform, always-connected devices generating scads of data. (JLR's own research into reading driver's brainwaves is only one example of how forward-thinking the automobile industry can be.) Clearly something had to be done.
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