It\u2019s 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 \u201cright\u201d solution is.\u00a0\nOut in the real world of enterprise IT, however, organizations are adopting cloud computing with enthusiasm, which was displayed in full force at London\u2019s Cloud World Forum in June. One of the strengths of this conference is how it\u2019s 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.\u00a0\n[Related: The real cloud computing revolution]\u00a0\nAt this year\u2019s 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.\u00a0\nJLR: reorienting IT toward growth\u00a0\nJLR is, to a certain extent, proof that beloved brands can\u2019t 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 efficienc\u00a0 ies 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:\n JLR \nJaguar Land Rover's growth has been impressive since being sold off by Ford Motor Company.\n\nAs 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.\u00a0\nIt wasn\u2019t all good news at JLR, though. As Headlam explained, JLR\u2019s 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 \u2013 if not fatal \u2013 shortcoming, as cars become the ultimate mobile platform, always-connected devices generating scads of data. (JLR\u2019s own research into reading driver\u2019s brainwaves is only one example of how forward-thinking the automobile industry can be.) Clearly something had to be done.\u00a0\n[Related: IT is not the bogeyman it used to be]\u00a0\nToday, JLR IT is significantly improved, although Headlam acknowledged it remains a work in progress. How did it make this improvement? Headlam pointed to the following:\u00a0\n\nA move to standardized infrastructure. Previously, JLR infrastructure and software packages were a jumble of one-of-everything. Now it\u2019s focusing on using external clouds to run applications where possible, thereby enabling JLR to focus on applications.\nGreater adoption of agile practices to accelerate application development and deployment timeframes.\n\nWidespread use of open source componentry to build new applications and IT tooling. One of the primary drivers for this adoption is the far lower cost of open source, critical in a small player in the highly competitive auto industry.\n JLR \nJLR\u2019s conceptual architecture shows both improvements and growth opportunities within its stack.\n\nHeadland presented JLR\u2019s conceptual architecture (see slide above), but noted that while the company had achieved great agility at the \u201cConsume\u201d layer, it still suffered from legacy capabilities lower down the stack. Nevertheless, JLR has realized significant benefits from moving toward its IT vision. Today, instead of the previous 90 percent, only 25 percent of IT personnel are devoted to maintaining the legacy environment. The rest can focus on transformation and next-generation applications.\u00a0\nOrdnance Survey: meeting the digital challenge\u00a0\nOrdnance Survey (OS) is well-known to U.K. hikers from its maps, which are extremely detailed and form the basis for tramping around the hundreds of miles of British footpaths.\n OS \nOrdinance Survey is known in the U.K. for its detailed topographical maps aimed at the hiking community.\n\nHowever, OS is responsible for far more than making it easy for hikers to find their way around the English countryside. Its work is involved with climate and weather, public works, satellite mapping information and more. In other words, just as JLR is transitioning from a physical to a physical-plus-digital products company, so too is OS. And, just like JLR, its IT processes were rooted in a time in which the digital component of its product offering was far smaller and less time-critical. The fact that its products are now digital means there are many more business opportunities based on repurposing the data, or combining its data with another entity\u2019s to create a new offering. The clear implication: OS needs to move faster and create applications more rapidly.\u00a0\nOS architect\/consultant Simon Parkes\u2019 presentation focused a lot on the nuts-and-bolts of migrating from trouble ticket-driven manual processes to automated DevOps systems. Upon tracking the flow of work from developers through to production, Parkes\u2019 team identified all the places that work occurred and how long each step took. As you\u2019d expect, this effort identified several bottlenecks.\n\n\t\n\nThe first bottleneck was that developers would often experience poor productivity because infrastructure (servers, etc.) took too long to provision. OS solved that by moving some infrastructure people into the development groups where they could focus their efforts on responding to requests more quickly.\u00a0\nThe second bottleneck was that code took a long time to go from a developer\u2019s hands through to building, deploying, configuring and managing. So OS built an automated toolchain, which had the effect of compressing the time spent in the application development portion of a project, visualized on the following slide:\n OS \nOS' automated toolchain compressed the time projects spent in the application development phase.\n\nThe OS DevOps effort is still evolving, as Parkes admitted. Accelerating final deployment by operations is still being addressed, which is a common challenge in DevOps efforts in that the highly controlled (typically manual) processes required to put code into production can be difficult to automate.\u00a0\nMore interesting was another challenge Parkes highlighted, which is the need for business processes to become Agile. The Agile methodology recommends including a \u201cbusiness representative\u201d in the daily standups; when application decisions have to be made with business implications, the representative can give immediate feedback, thereby allowing the project to continue moving forward.\u00a0\nBut that\u2019s a bit too neat an answer to a challenging situation. Many business decisions cannot be made by snap judgments, because they require consultation within the business unit and potentially with other important groups like marketing, sales, end user support, legal, etc. Undoubtedly this challenge is only going to get larger as IT becomes a more important part of company offerings. Moreover, this latter factor requires business representatives to really understand technology in order to evaluate how an application decision can affect the resulting product and customer experience. Parkes didn\u2019t offer a solution for this \u2013 but assuming that having a business representative attend the daily standups solves it is too simplistic for where the industry is heading.\u00a0\nTransforming enterprise IT for its future\u00a0\nBoth Headland and Parkes\u2019 presentations were excellent moment-in-time snapshots of IT organizations in the midst of significant change \u2013 transforming from slow-moving back-office support functions to front-line organizations whose output is a critical part of the organization\u2019s business offerings. A distillation of both their presentations reveals:\u00a0\n\nThe digital revolution is real. Both Headland and Parkes described organizations caught up in the digital revolution. It\u2019s hard to recognize just how rapidly the very nature of automobiles and driving is changing, but the pace of change in the industry is mind-boggling. In 2004 DARPA held an autonomous vehicle challenge in a remote desert location; not a single vehicle could finish the course. Today, 11 years later, Google has self-driving cars on the streets of Mountain View, Calif. And, of course, cars themselves are rapidly turning into computing devices. One might say they\u2019re becoming the ultimate mobile device. OS is caught up in the mapping revolution, where geographic data is leveraged to improve crop yields, demographic insights, and business offerings. The fact is, every company is confronted with the digital revolution and the only question is how to respond.\u00a0\n\n[Related: 5 key questions Google needs to answer about its driverless cars]\u00a0\n\nIT is mired in old processes. Headland and Parkes both described the enormous challenge of meeting the digital revolution with organizations rooted in another time and reality. In the past, IT\u2019s glacial processes and siloed organizations were relatively unimportant, given that it grew up with a primary task of automating back office functions to reduce administrative headcount. Today, however, IT infuses every company\u2019s offerings, and the IT organization must provide innovation and agility. Moving IT from yesterday\u2019s reality to today\u2019s pressing needs is critical \u2013 and difficult.\u00a0\n\n\nReal progress is possible. Despite the undoubted struggle confronting legacy processes carries, there is hope. Both JLR and OS are on their way to faster, more responsive IT organizations that can support the needs of the overall business. Unfortunately, there\u2019s no magic answer. Both organizations are reengineering their existing processes, which inevitably requires organizational change and disruption. Naturally, this is difficult, as change is always uncomfortable; nevertheless, it\u2019s necessary to achieve the required results.\u00a0\n\n\nDevOps is the path forward. DevOps is a hot topic in enterprise IT circles and has almost become annoying in how frequently proffered it is as a solution for every IT ill. Predictably, there is a growing backlash against the term, with some claiming that it\u2019s oversold and others stating that they\u2019ve always done it, but just called it something else. Nevertheless, no matter what it\u2019s called or where it came from, DevOps is necessary for IT to meet its true destiny: the centerpiece of all future business offerings. At its heart, DevOps is about streamlining internal IT processes, automating policy, and removing unnecessary manual intervention \u2013 all things fundamental to the agility crucial to today\u2019s turbulent economy.\u00a0\n\nIt\u2019s fascinating to return to Cloud World Forum and get a snapshot of enterprise IT progress in an age of cloud. From this year\u2019s evidence, cloud computing has moved from an object of interest to a core part of today\u2019s IT strategy. It\u2019s pretty clear this progress will continue and even accelerate as more businesses come to recognize that the combination of technology, agility and scale are core to meeting the business challenges of tomorrow.