5 Ways Enterprise IT Can Embrace the Cloud

IT leaders agree that cloud computing represents the future of enterprise IT, but few IT organizations are taking steps to emulate the big cloud players like Amazon and Google. Here are five ways IT leaders can embrace and put into play some of the best cloud practices.

By Stephanie Overby
Wed, January 09, 2013

CIO — You've implemented COBIT and ITIL. Your data centers are virtualized. You're taking every "cloud" call you get from your vendors.

On the face of it, the average enterprise IT organization has little in common with cloud computing's biggest players like Amazon and Google--what with their multiplying data centers, thousands of servers and exabytes of storage.

But what the industry's leading cloud providers do--provide scalable computing power cheaply and quickly--and how they do it actually holds a number of valuable lessons for the average corporate IT organization.

"While major public cloud providers have a scale that few, if any, enterprises, will ever gravitate towards, much of what they do is eminently applicable to the enterprise," says Raymond Paquet, managing vice president, Gartner Research. "Why reinvent the wheel when it's already been invented?"

"Everyone wants to be fast, but you won't get that from ITIL or COBIT."

--Raymond Paquet, Gartner Research.

And while most IT leaders agree that cloud computing represents the future of enterprise IT, few IT organizations actually emulate the leaders in the market. In fact, they often make the exact opposite choices that their cloud providers would. The biggest reason, says Paquet, is IT vendors are successfully selling products, processes and services to enterprise IT that a cloud provider would never think of buying.

But there are five simple ways IT leaders can embrace some of the best practices of the cloud, says Paquet. And taking these steps can bring down corporate infrastructure costs as much as 25 percent, Paquet says.

1. Hold my sales calls. "One of the problems is that the major technology providers--the vendors in the marketplace--are selling enterprises things that they say are 'cloud' but are not at all being used in the public cloud," says Paquet. Storage arrays? Blade servers? Unix boxes? Mainframes? No. No. No. And no. "Public cloud provider try to not even buy software," says Paquet.

[Related: How to Choose Your Cloud Service Provider]

2. Dig into DevOps. There's nothing corporate IT likes more than a best practice framework, whether it's the process-focused COBIT or service level-oriented ITIL. After all, who can't benefit from a little operational rigor. The big cloud providers, that's who. They're focused on DevOps software development methods.

"Everyone wants to be fast, but you won't get that from ITIL or COBIT," says Paquet. "[Cloud providers] are into rapid and agile development and they have to match that operationally, which is not easy to do."

While corporate IT is spending more on infrastructure than development, cloud providers are racing ahead. "A server on an array does not generate business value. It's the software that runs on it," says Paquet. Not every enterprise environment, application, or business process needs to be rapid, add Paquet, but for systems that can transform or grow the business, it's worth investigating.

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