Is Cloud Computing Ready for Prime Time?
By John Dixon, Consulting Architect, LogicsOne
A few weeks ago, I took part in another engaging tweetchat on Cloud Computing. The topic: is cloud computing ready for enterprise adoption? You can find the transcript here.
As usual with tweetchats hosted by CloudCommons, five questions are presented a few days in advance of the event. This time around, the questions were:
- Is Public Cloud mature enough for enterprise adoption?
- Should Public Cloud be a part of every business’s IT strategy?
- How big of a barrier are legacy applications and hardware to public cloud adoption?
- What’s the best way to deal with cloud security?
- What’s the best way to get started with public cloud?
As far as Question #1, the position of most people in the chat session this time was that Public Cloud is mature enough for certain applications in enterprises today. The technology certainly exists to run applications “in the cloud” but regulations and policies may not be ready to handle an application’s cloud deployment. Another interesting observation from the tweetchat was that most enterprises are indeed running applications “in the cloud” right now. GreenPages considers applications such as Concur and Salesforce.com as running “in the cloud.” And of course, many organizations large and small run these applications successfully. I’d also consider ADP as a cloud application. And of course, many organizations make use of ADP for payroll processing.
Are enterprises mature enough for cloud computing?
Much of the discussion during question #1 turned the question on end – the technology is there, but enterprises are not ready to deploy applications there. GreenPages’ position is that, even if we assume that cloud computing is not yet ready for prime time, then it certainly will be soon. Organizations should prepare for this eventuality by gaining a deep understanding of the IT services they provide, and how much a particular IT service costs. When one or more of your IT services can be substituted for one that runs (reliably and inexpensively) in the cloud, will your company be able to make the right decision to take advantage of that condition? Also, another interesting observation: some public cloud offerings may be enterprise-ready, but not all public cloud vendors are enterprise-grade. We agree.
Should every business have a public cloud strategy?
Most of the discussion here pointed to a “yes” answer. Or that an organization’s strategy will eventually, by default, include consideration for public cloud. We think of cloud computing as a sourcing strategy in and of itself – especially when thinking of IaaS and PaaS. Even now, IaaS vendors are essentially providers of commodity IT services. Most commonly, IaaS vendors can provide you with an operating system instance: Windows or Linux. For IaaS, the degree of abstraction is very high, as an operating system instance can be deployed on a wide range of systems – physical, virtual, paravirtual, etc. The consumer of these services doesn’t mind where the OS instance is running, as long as it is performing to the agreed SLA. Think of Amazon Web Services here. Depending on the application that I’m deploying, there is little difference whether I’m using infrastructure that is running physically in Northern Virginia or in Southern California. At GreenPages, we think that this degree of abstraction will move in to the enterprise as corporate IT departments evolve to behave more like service providers… and probably evolve in to brokers of IT services – supported by a public cloud strategy.
Security and legacy applications
Two questions revolved around legacy applications and security as barriers to adoption. Every organization has a particular application that will not be considered for cloud computing. The arguments are similar for the reasons why we never (or, are just beginning to) virtualize legacy applications. Sometimes, virtualizing specialized hardware is, well, really hard and just not worth the effort.
What’s the best way to get started with public cloud?
“Just go out and use Amazon,” was a common response to this question, both in this particular tweetchat and in other discussions. Indeed, trying Amazon for some development activities is not a bad way to evaluate the features of public cloud. In our view, the best way to get started with cloud is to begin managing your datacenter as if it were a cloud environment, with some tool that can manage traditional and cloud environments the same way. Even legacy applications. Even applications with specialized hardware. Virtual, physical, paravirtual, etc. Begin to monitor and measure your applications in a consistent manner. This way, when an application is deployed to a cloud provider, your organization can continue to monitor, measure, and manage that application using the same method. For those of us who are risk-averse, this is the easiest way to get started with cloud! How is this done? We think you’ll see that Cloud Management as a Service (CMaaS) is the best way.
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