December 17, 2010

A Christmas Cloud

It was Donner who first thought of the idea, but it could have been almost anyone in a leadership position in Santa’s reindeer team. They had just agreed that their annual task of manufacturing and delivering toys to all the children on earth in just one day was becoming more difficult and challenging with each passing year.

Significantly, 365 days were no longer adequate for preparation, manufacture and distribution when relying on the outdated, inefficient computer systems at the secret data centre at the North Pole headquarters – which seemed constantly in need of memory and server upgrades.

“Heaven knows, we’re not getting any younger,” Donner stressed at this early- season strategy and planning session. “Neither are the Elves or Santa himself. We need to employ new technology to help us before we are overwhelmed.”

“The most obvious technology,” suggested Rudolf, quickly stealing Donner’s thunder, “is Cloud Computing. It’s a new approach to IT in which technology is made available to businesses as a service. You pay for what you need – like water or electricity.”

“So, that’s settled than,” beamed Vixen. “Shall I tell Santa we need to introduce Cloud Computing technology ASAP?”

“No wait,” interjected Comet, leaping from his chair. “Let’s give Santa some facts about Cloud Computing first and explain how it will help him – and us – to be more productive and efficient. That’ll help persuade him to ask Mrs Claus to open her purse strings…. you know she won’t spend any money on IT unless there’s a substantial return on investment.”

“Better still, lets’ show him how it will make Christmas happier for all the children,” said Dancer.

“Think about all the millions of gift request we get each year via snail mail. Wouldn’t it be great if we could interface our system with all the social networking sites around the world, for example.”

“Why don’t we give Santa a few examples of how the technology is working for the rest of the world? This will give him confidence to make the necessary changes,” stressed Cupid, who had been silent up to that point. “We need to bring Santa’s operation and big business together and show him what they have in common.

“Good plan,” smiled Rudolf, silently pleased that ‘his’ idea had gathered momentum. “Let’s tell him about the on-line shopping Clouds – like the one runs.”

Donner was quick to add: “If we’re looking for examples to impress Santa, let’s tell him how Christmas cards can be designed, personalised, printed and sent to their destinations online. And presents purchased online can be dispatched to their recipients at the stroke of a touch screen.”

“Yes, in today’s world, with Cloud Computing, nearly anything is possible,” added Cupid. “You just need to imagine it.”

They were all lost in private thoughts when suddenly, out of the blue, Blitzen said, in a concerned voice, “What about security?”

“What about it?” asked Rudolf.

“Well, I’ve heard Cloud Computing services often bypass the physical, logical and personnel security controls of traditional in-house systems like ours. We don’t want our ‘naughty or nice’ list to end up on WikiLeaks, do we?”

Rudolf nodded sagely. “Securing corporate information is very important these days. But despite the uncertainties, overall security provided by Cloud computing hosts and their associates is often as good as, if not better, than the security barriers common to most traditional computer systems – like ours.”

“OK. Let’s go and see Santa,” interjected Vixen, moving towards the door, anxious to get the ball rolling.

“Before we rush into things, there’s one last question we need to resolve,” mused Donner. “You know Santa will ask our advice when it comes to selecting a Cloud Computing vendor.”

“There is a vendor capable of building world-class Cloud Computing solutions that save time, money and resources – at the same time providing security designed to cope with our world of fast-paced change,” said the knowledgeable Rudolf.

“That’s all very well, but up here at the North Pole, we’ll need a vendor who’ll understand our issues and provide practical solutions to our unique challenges in a cost-effective way,” noted Donner.

“All you have to do is go on-line to find the answer,” explained Rudolf. “You don’t have to take my word for it. For example, at The Enterasys Network you’ll find a slew of industry specialists ready to provide you with accurate perspectives on the changing landscape of the IT industry, not to mention Cloud solutions and virtualised data centres.”

“Come on….let’s go and log on to the Internet on our way to see Santa, and I’ll show you all what I mean,” ordered Rudolf officiously. “We’re not getting any younger.”

About The Contributor:
Martin MayRegional Director, Africa

Martin came to South Africa in 1992, relocated by Cabletron Systems to begin operations in Africa. May has driven Extreme Networks forward in Africa and is a leading advisor in the areas of infrastructure security utilizing technologies such as NAC, IDS/IPS and network-based security.

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