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Organisations are under enormous pressure to adopt cloud offerings, which can offer significant benefits, but numerous potential hazards can outstrip the initial gains made. Increasingly, the question is asked: ‘Are you ready for the cloud?’ when a more appropriate question is: ‘Is the cloud ready for you?’ asks Matthew Edwards, Chief Technology Officer at bluesource.
For some organisations, a full scale move to the cloud now, will be suitable, for others such a move might never be appropriate. For the overwhelming majority, a considered, phased move to the cloud - with a mixture of hybrid or blended on/off -premise solutions, is likely to prove the best solution.
The challenge for companies is they have to pick their way through the claims and counter claims of the cloud vendor community. They need to be able to differentiate their IT ‘needs’ from their ‘wants’ and then conduct a maturity assessment of the cloud offerings to see if their needs can be met in the short to medium term.
Companies need to ask a cloud provider, what provision is there for recovery from a number of failure scenarios and how secure are they? They must establish the ease of cloud migration, if they will be locked in and if a cloud start-up folds, what happens to its client’s data? Companies also need to have an understanding of the hidden costs of the cloud, as well the potential savings.
In reality, the overwhelming majority of organisations will adapt to a strategy of co-existence where some systems and applications are in the cloud while others remain on-premise. A gradual, phased migration to the cloud will be the path that most organisations choose to follow, and at their own pace.
The many incarnations of cloud mean that there could potentially be different hype cycles for each of the different models available - infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) - and the markets that each cloud model targets, explains Tom Brand, Service Director – cloud solutions for GlassHouse Technologies (UK).
The consumer and SMB end of the market are generally amenable to cloud services, like Hotmail or Google Docs, and are thought to be at the plateau of productivity stage in the hype cycle.
Many start-ups are certainly seeing the benefits of the reduced capex and flexible cloud pricing models. Some SMEs, once thrilled by the prospect of pay-as-you-go IT infrastructure, are staring into the ‘trough of disillusionment’. These are businesses that may have transitioned into the cloud without sufficient planning or research, resulting in a pain point because their expectations are not met.
Enterprises are falling behind consumers and SMEs in their adoption of cloud. This is typically the result of providers being unable to offer services that support the complex business requirements of a larger organisation.
In enterprise, ‘cloud talk’ dominates the media and discussions at the water cooler but in reality there has been little adoption of the IaaS cloud model. Some might say that IaaS will never reach full maturity as businesses may well bypass these solutions, skipping external cloud provider IaaS offerings and going straight to a SaaS model.
The term ‘Cloud Computing’ is just another marketing bandwagon the technology industry is jumping on, it’s a popular buzz word used to describe any service provided via the internet, says Paul Evans, Managing Director at Redstor.
Lots of corporates are already using cloud services such as Salesforce, which is a service that is delivered on a pay as you go basis via the internet or ‘cloud’. End users have been using cloud computing for many years without realising, for example Hotmail and AOL are cloud e-mail services, it was simply referred to as ‘the internet’ or ‘online’ e-mail before.
Some people are still unsure of the difference between Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud; essentially they are the same thing. SaaS is a financial approach to delivering software, rather than paying upfront end users pay on a monthly basis, or ‘pay as you use’ the basis of the cloud. Typically rather than a technology or solution sitting on a corporate network it is delivered via the internet/cloud.
This is how cloud computing has evolved, many organisations have moved their services and offerings into the cloud one step at a time, for example moving e-mail to the cloud or mail scanning which is hosted by a separate organisation or placing certain applications in the cloud for flexibility and instant access. As much as these first steps could be defined as SaaS the simplest and more widely understood term now is ‘cloud’.
End users expect everything to be instantly available and at the touch of a button, for the technology industry to meet these demands it needs to use the internet or ‘cloud’ to offer its services and solutions to a wider audience.
As far as end users are concerned, they have a perfectly good understanding of what cloud computing means to them and despite the hype many are aware of all the jargon.”
There has been much hype around cloud computing, particularly the cost and efficiency savings an on-demand solution can bring to business operations, warns Dave Gilpin, Chief Strategy Officer, SunGard Availability Services.
However, while there is a growing consensus among end users over the potential benefits on offer, there remains a high degree of confusion over the differences between the types of cloud computing models in the marketplace. The two key approaches that have emerged, and which users should make themselves familiar with, are the public cloud and private cloud services.
The public cloud presents multiple customers with storage capacity via a shared server environment and often offers standardised security policies irrespective of the client or sensitivity of data. With the private cloud, all compute resources tend to be dedicated to one business alone. Private access means that data from one business often never shares space with that from another.
In the right hands, this allows the private cloud to function as a highly controlled and customisable environment: elasticity, software and security for instance, are configured to meet the organisation’s precise requirements. In fact, the provider and/or the organisation can be granted access to security and management controls of a private cloud and tailor them according to their own specification.
For enterprises this means that traditional practices of overspending on capacity to prepare for future growth can now be replaced by a secure solution scalable enough to cater for immediate business needs and provide additional resources as necessary.
Ultimately, companies should look to a trustworthy service provider that can offer a bespoke environment for each individual business and its data.”
Comment attributable to: The fact of the matter is that Cloud is not new; in one form or another network service providers have been offering Cloud services for a number of years now, says Phil Male, Chief Strategy Officer at Cable&Wireless Worldwide.
From my experience in the infrastructure and management market, I believe the cloud provides a channel for people that want to buy a service which is delivered by the internet, rather than relying on or having to invest in their own compute resources. The Cloud essentially buys outcomes and results and not assets.
Looking ahead, by economies of scale, the Cloud should be able to offer a good price for services that are reasonably standard. These could include applications, servers, storage and high performance computing. It should also be able to offer an efficient use of energy as better prices are normally associated with efficient processes.
Energy efficiency and Power Usage Effectiveness (PuE) should be better with cloud computing as it should deliver much closer to 100% utilisation than a private compute system.
It should not be affected by daily time cycles (as part of the world goes to sleep, another part wakes up) and standard economic laws tell us that the cheaper it is - the more it will be used and the cheaper it will get. The less efficient operators will fail as they won’t be able to compete on price.
Potentially the biggest set-back will be security. However, price will also be a driver in compelling business to at least look deep into the security issues and satisfy themselves that they are comfortable with the safeguards and precautions that are in place.
Like everyone else in business, CIOs are on constant watch for ways to cut costs and drive up performance. Cash for investment is highly targeted, and market developments have become much harder to predict, says Neil Sutton, Vice President Global Portfolio at BT Global Services.
CIOs need solutions that are much more dynamic – that expand and contract in line with demand. That’s why they’re interested in cloud computing.
But one size does not fit all requirements, and inherently, the values of flexibility, value and predictability are recurring themes. As some have found to their cost, the promise of cloud can often be bought into sharp focus.
Take performance, for example. As you move the systems that supply services further away from users, their experience becomes more dependent on the networks involved. If you’ve bought things online, you’ll know that websites respond quicker to your clicks at some times of the day than others. It all depends on how many other people are online, and what they are doing at the time. The busier the network is, the longer you’ll have to wait. It may sound like a small thing, but it can soon cause big problems. When you’re interacting with customers, just a few seconds difference in response time can make a big difference.
CIO’s other concerns include security and compliance. Confidential data needs to remains just that – confidential. And if data protection laws are to be respected, it needs to be clear where customer records will be held (and can be proved) – cloud suppliers can’t move them from data centre to data centre at will. This, in many ways, is no different to the standards expected of a enterprise managed service or outsourcing arrangement.
CIOs are clearly interested in cloud, but the conversations we have had suggest they are keen to understand the value, where it fits in a delivery architecture, and how it enables them to deliver their business priorities. They like the idea – what they’re looking for is enterprise-class performance, compliance and service.ShareThis
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