Forrester Outlines How IT Organizations Will Control the Cloud

Developers love the cloud because it makes their jobs easier. Rather than fight this trend, and risk obsolescence, Infrastructure and Operations should accept it. A recent Forrester Research report offers five hints for controlling the cloud without stifling developer innovation.

By Bernard Golden
Thu, December 13, 2012

CIO — An intriguing report from Forrester Research, Cloud Keys an Era Of New IT Responsiveness and Efficiency, outlines how IT organizations will adopt and control cloud computing going forward. It presents a number of recommendations that every IT shop should take to heart.

The report breaks down into two areas:

  1. What's going on with applications and software engineers
  2. How IT infrastructure and operations should respond so that the overall business gets what it needs from cloud computing.

While there is some sobering news—that application developers love cloud computing and have no plans to go back—there are also some practical solutions for Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) departments.

Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Cloud

The capabilities of cloud computing are now the benchmark for what software engineers expect. Public cloud computing—which, in this context, essentially means Amazon Web Services—enable rapid resource access, high productivity and inexpensive development. Developers will avoid or evade anything that doesn't deliver that. In particular, this means many IT organization's plans to implement a private cloud need to be evaluated (or re-evaluated) in light of whether they meet the competition.

Forrester analyst James Staten can be quite scathing about the hobbled virtualization environments that some IT organizations seek to pass off as a private cloud. The salient point is that developers now have expectations of how things can be, and they're unlikely to be satisfied with something less capable. Another recent Forrester survey found developers largely indifferent to private cloud implementation efforts. Their attitude could be summed up as, "If it helps me do my job, I'll use it, but if it doesn't, I'll just stick to the cloud environment I'm already using."

How-To: 10 Ways to Ease Public Cloud Security Concerns

Coercive efforts to force developers to use the "official" cloud are, of course, unlikely to be productive. Dont think of this as shadow IT going off on its own, either. Developers are being sanctioned in the use of cloud computing by the sponsors of the applications they're developing: the business units.

Is the Solution IaaS, PaaS—or Something Else?

One interesting finding in the report is what kind of development frameworks software engineers are looking for. The current, vanilla Infrastructure as a service offerings of virtual machines, storage and network connectivity don't just hinder high productivity. They also force developers to manage "plumbing" instead of devoting more focus to application functionality.

The "solution" proffered to address the too-simple, high-effort IaaS environments has been Platform as a Service. The logic is that a programming framework offers common services that free developers from details and rely on the framework to perform necessary tasks such as persistent data storage, identity management and the like.

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