Alan Perkins, Specialist IT Consultant at Altium Limited, is a Cloud Computing pioneer who has won awards for Altium’s Cloud Computing initiatives as CIO and was a finalist for IDC’s Asia Pacific CIO of the Year.
Alan started as a Chartered Account and has applied this background to over 20 years experience in systems analysis and design. He has spoken around Australia and internationally about the ways in which Altium has applied Cloud concepts to its business and how companies can benefit from innovating in the Cloud.
Alan’s blog is often referenced in the press and he has recently been referred to in the media as one of three contenders for Australian Cloud Visionary. The Australian recently listed him as one of the top 20 people to watch in 2012.
We spoke with Alan to find out more about his high level strategic thoughts about cloud which he will speak about at CeBIT’s Cloud Conference.
He explained that rather than concentrating on specific cloud services or technical aspects he will:
“Take a different tack with the topic and focus on the mental / paradigm shift required to prepare for the cloud”.
“I believe that cloud is a concept more far reaching than any specific implementation and businesses cannot really transition to the cloud until they fully understand the shift in thinking required to leverage it successfully.”
Alan compared the reaction of many CIO’s to cloud as being similar to:
“19th century industrialists who were offered utility power for the first time. What did they think it could be used for? Their vision was very limited – and so is ours today. I hope to open people’s vision to wider possibilities beyond just thinking of infrastructure provisioning.”
“In fact there is a real danger of being left to the annals of history if one only thinks of cloud as a cheaper or more efficient means of provisioning infrastructure.”
Alan says that one useful aspect of cloud is being able to scale without reaching limits. Unlike an in-house server system there is no need to worry about architecture breaking after hitting for example 1000 or even 100,000 concurrent users. This ability to scale up/down elastically can allow organisations to experiment with scenarios that were logistically difficult in the past for minimal cost and effort.
Lessons from the Frontline as Cloud Pioneer
Alan told us that these are some of the tips he will give in his speaker session at CeBIT:
- Know how to get data out
- Think “What can I do now? Not what can’t I do?”
- Buck still stops with you – if your cloud provider fails your system shouldn’t fail because you setup and stress tested a failover system beforehand.
In terms of trending topics Alan is interested in:
“The increasing adoption of social media principles into our daily thinking and processes, the emergence of the Internet of Things as a means of interconnecting our devices, achieving synergies we cannot yet appreciate”.
“There is so much focus on promoting cloud as IaaS aka “rent a computer”. These people are missing the picture. Sales and marketing teams are bypassing IT departments and vendors looking beyond the obvious benefits and saying ‘what if?”
“I was a very early adopter of cloud concepts, moving all of Altium’s systems into the cloud before it was called cloud. I started as a Chartered Accountant and applied that background to IT. Cloud concepts just made sense. At the moment Altium is in a transition stage and I am not at liberty to talk about the next major steps being taken in our cloud journey.”