by Vanessa Alvarez

Look Beyond Cloud Labels: Prepare for Hybrid Journey

Apr 20, 2010
Data Center

Your organization must look beyond the public vs. private cloud debate and focus on your unique business needs.

Today’s enterprises have many challenges they must overcome, while at the same time, remaining competitive. With the macroeconomic crisis still plaguing many enterprises today, it’s imperative that every resource be utilized to its fullest extent. Cost centers are being evaluated and fat is, ultimately, being cut out. Organizations are looking to run efficiently and effectively.

Cloud computing allows for this to happen. This model not only allows for technological efficiencies within data centers/networks, but also human resource efficiencies, as the roles of IT professionals evolve to become strategic to the business. Human efficiencies occur on the business side as well, as roles such as procurement change to become more flexible and consist of different requirements and responsibilities.

I’ve written numerous times on how cloud computing is not only a technological change, but also an organizational change. As the model evolves, enterprises will fully realize the value and benefits of cloud computing.

Today, the competitive advantage that cloud computing can provide for enterprises is undeniable, despite many technological components still being nascent. However, there are many ways in which cloud computing can be deployed, and so it has been categorized into labels: private, public, hybrid, and virtual private cloud. Although many other monikers have been used, these are in fact, the literary descriptions for each model available today. Despite the nuance challenges of each definition, they are for the most part, accurate in what they depict.

The Public vs. Private Debate

Recent evidence and surveys suggest that enterprises are more interested in deploying and utilizing private clouds first. Naturally, it would seem like the most logical first step to take. After all, the mere term “private” suggests that it’s secure. If organizations are looking to dip their toes into cloud computing as part of a long term strategy, then why not begin with private cloud? Enterprises can leverage the existing infrastructure environment and begin in a phased approach.

However, each one of these models can be leveraged, at the same time or at different periods, depending on the needs of the particular task at hand. There are many enterprises today that have already begun using public cloud for task oriented projects within their organizations. Uses cases exist today that leverage public cloud benefits, enhancing a company’s own IT resources. The reasons for organizations using public cloud are many, but a common reason is the fact that accessing IT resources from the public cloud is easy. It really does require only a credit card, and your business requirements. No IT involvement, no bottleneck bureaucratic process.

With all the hype around private clouds, it’s necessary for enterprises to look beyond the monikers and assess what their organizations’ needs are. Either one of these models can become costly if not utilized appropriately, completely negating the value proposition of efficiencies. As with any new IT or business project, costs can spiral before a goal is even realized and end up leaving a bad taste.

Although it may seem tempting to leverage cloud for everything, there may be applications, functions or workloads that are just not designed to take advantage of cloud, and may in fact, end up being costly to run. There may be some projects that are better run in within your own IT environment (private cloud), whether because the work requires high performance, or has security requirements that are not provided in a public cloud. Other projects may not have such stringent requirements and could be run in a public cloud, leveraging the cost efficiencies.

Utilizing a combination of both public and private cloud models, and having the ability to port data, applications, workloads etc. between these, is truly maximizing the value and benefits of cloud computing. It’s not a question about utilizing one or the other, but about how each model can be leveraged.

Making the right assessments with regards to business requirements will be key; IT and business organizations must come together to understand and establish what the needs of the enterprise are. It will then be necessary to communicate these to vendors and service providers and ensure that the right combinations of resources are being utilized to deliver these business requirements.

This is not an overnight project, but a long term evolutionary journey that enterprises need to make, along with their vendors and service providers as partners in the journey.

Vanessa Alvarez is an Industry Analyst with Frost & Sullivan focusing on monitoring and analyzing emerging trends, technologies and market dynamics in the area of enterprise infrastructure in North America. Follow her on Twitter @VanessaAlvarez1.

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