Cloud Computing and the New Normal

As the "new normal" of the post-recession economy stretches before us, cloud computing services are become more widely considered and adopted by large mainstream enterprises. Many organizations just last year refused to accept the premise and are now enthusiastic advocates looking forward to a new future of computing flexibility and choice.

By Chris Weitz, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Mon, November 08, 2010

Network World — As the "new normal" of the post-recession economy stretches before us, cloud computing services are become more widely considered and adopted by large mainstream enterprises.  Many organizations just last year refused to accept the premise and are now enthusiastic advocates looking forward to a new future of computing flexibility and choice. 

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And with a new class of complex enterprise buyers entering the market, a higher standard of performance and reliability is being applied to the purveyors of cloud services.   Yet to no one's surprise, the increased exposure of today's commercial cloud services to the rigors of top-tier enterprise requirements is exposing the immaturity of cloud computing, and the way forward seems more like a long haul than a quick sprint.

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Like every major technology emerging before it, the excitement of cloud computing has been dampened by the inevitable realization that real progress will require significant effort and careful steps forward.  There is indeed no magic bullet or free lunch.  But the need to identify better ways to deliver IT services requires a serious look at increasingly strategic uses of cloud services.

The architectures used by true cloud computing platforms -- rapid scalability, flexibility, resource pooling and usage-based pricing -- are significantly different from what are now deemed "classic" IT computing models. With these differences come the opportunity for significant gains in asset efficiency, capital utilization and business responsiveness.   

The price of progress, however, is more uncertainty, with an associated loss of control. The old rules of operations seemingly do not apply, and the new rules have not been established. The previously predictable and steadfast world of enterprise IT is now an unexplored territory of new and evolving services. The rate of change is higher than has been experienced in many decades. Many IT veterans are skittish of unproven technology, but feel they have no choice but to move forward, regardless of unknowns. The prerogatives of the "new normal" require a rebalancing of risk and rewards for enterprise IT, and a relearning of operational tactics to maintain the business.

The journey to cloud normality

As the most sophisticated enterprises take a serious look at cloud technologies, the technical shortcomings are more difficult to overlook.   The list of "enterprise class" features supplied by the major cloud service providers is growing, but still lags the expectations and requirements of the high end of the market. Certain advanced features, which are assumed to be part of the enterprise checklist, may not be part of the current crop of cloud services. Capabilities cited as high on the "must haves" include:

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