Many enterprise IT professionals regard cloud computing as being an inferior form of outsourcing. This reflects the fact that most cloud-based services are still not up to enterprise standards and cannot be monitored and controlled by IT managers.
owever, business units that are frustrated by the speed of corporate IT to adapt to their needs view the concept as an attractive option.
Cloud computing has all the hallmarks of being a disruptive innovation that all IT professionals should take note of.
As one early adopter put it: “The resistance to cloud computing is much more political and bureaucratic than technical. When you go to a cloud you lose track of who controls what and who is currently on what resources. We’re still working through the political issues. We’ve only succeeded with a small group of divisions, but it is demonstrating the value.”
Rather than ignore cloud computing and hope it goes away, consider the following:
Start experimenting with the cloud using non-critical applications. Some clouds can also be used to provide overflow capacity.
Be prepared for business departments to start dabbling with it. Even if IT cannot justify using clouds, your business units will. Cloud computing is a compelling business proposition — infrastructure that can be provisioned with a credit card, with low barriers to entry and low barriers to exit. Rather than block efforts, learn from them.
Let the cloud vendors know what you want. These firms want your business and are looking for your guidance on what it takes to win it. Once you have some experience with their services, let them know if there are any changes they need to introduce to better meet your needs. And shop around, as we are already seeing differences in the cloud offerings. “Expect to see lots of different clouds that compete,” says Harald Prokop, senior vice president of engineering at Akamai. “If you have massive needs for processor, storage, or geographic dispersion, there will be a cloud model for that.”
Use cloud infrastructure internally. Learn from what the cloud vendors are doing to improve the utilisation and reusability of your internal infrastructure. Hardware and server workload abstraction is key and can be achieved with virtualisation software. Blade servers from vendors such as HP and IBM enable dynamic workload movement via new virtual I/O capabilities, and several vendors, including 3Tera, Cassatt and DataSynapse, offer middleware that can provide this capability across blade and traditional infrastructure — virtual or physical.
Build your own cloud. If you have vast datacentre resources, and application deployment is a core competency of your business, using cloud architectures can help make your IT department more responsive to business needs. IBM’s Project Blue Cloud initiative could help you in this, among others. If you are in the business of providing infrastructure services to external customers, run, don’t walk, to try this out.
Is cloud computing ready for the enterprise? Not yet, but it is maturing fast. The concept is wildly popular with startups as it fits the way small businesses like to buy things, and has the potential to completely upend IT as we know it. IT professionals can try to ignore it, but doing so would be a mistake as cloud computing is looking like a classic disruptive technology.