“Cloud is the future of IT”—Shane Stakem, IT Leader, IaaS Platforms, GE
Dealing with unpredictable workloads is an inescapable part of the IT professional's working life. What happens when you add to that a requirement for massive scalability?
Scale and speed: inside GE's cloud transformation
In a new interview in Ericsson Business Review, Shane Stakem explains that rapid shifts in cloud technology and its management require a prime focus on the fast implementation of cloud solutions, with long-term organizational strategy working on top of that.
"I come from a startup background, where pretty much the only timescale is 'as fast as possible,'" he says. "It’s been quite surprising—and really exciting—to see GE taking the same approach."
This is often easier said than done. And naturally, there are real challenges associated with transitioning from legacy infrastructure, taking into account the sheer number of physical servers GE must deal with. Stakem said that it's imperative to understand which applications are the most challenging to support, highlighting those that overlap with the Internet of Things (IoT); industries such as aviation and energy are likely to dominate.
Cost, reliability, and scalability
From healthcare to financial services, executives in every industry are constantly evaluating how and where cloud can make a difference to their organization, whether through cost reductions, improved reliability, or increased scalability.
This is why GE is adopting a vigorous approach to the transformation of their IT and development stack, rather than taking a more conservative line.
"Our cloud supports business in every part of the world, every minute of the day," Stakem says. "That’s challenging even with the resources we have. Just because you’re rolling out in North America, you can’t put Australia on hold for a year. Customers don’t like hearing those sorts of things—and CIOs certainly don’t."
GE's focus is on speed
But how can a 124-year-old multi-industry organization providing uninterrupted services worldwide succeed with this scale of cloud transformation? For GE, the answer is to focus on reaching unprecedented speed, while sustaining process and security compliance. Stakem claims that some of their cloud initiatives were achieved end to end within four months, instead of the standard 12-month to 18-month time frame.
He also emphasized that within a targeted time frame, a cloud provider’s technology stack and virtualization components can change, along with the cloud provider itself. Therefore, "The trick is to go fast without the wheels falling off," he says.
The scale at which GE operates globally is unique, and with new cloud technologies emerging continually, it will be interesting to see how GE accelerates their cloud transformation.
GE has bet on a “real-life game of Risk.” Going forward, their strategy will be dynamically aligned based on a holistic view of cloud technology together with the required IT implementations.
Background photo by Deirdre Straughan.