By Janel Ryan
Cloud is not that newIf you’re like me and have been in the industry for some time (more than some would admit to), then you know cloud really isn’t that new. In the 90s, it was called “Utility Computing” and the topic du jour was your hypervisor and how you maximized operational efficiency and pay as you go….don’t these sound familiar as the often-touted advantages of cloud computing?
Advantages of cloud computing are well understood
The challenge today is not the understanding the advantages of cloud itself. We get that already, it’s the best thing since the iPhone (sorry, Steve), yada yada yada, blah blah blah. Your business challenge is still the same as it was in the 90s, though: how do I affect bottom line growth? How do I scale fast to address unpredictable growth? How do I deal with a transformational event? How do I manage the IT chaos with a static or non-existent budget? Your CEOs worry about growth, you worry about the projects you have that can improve that growth.
So why do we all still care about cloud?
Because the promise of cloud is so…well, promising. We can leverage cloud to get out of the CapEx nightmare – it’s always better to use someone else’s money rather than your own. You don’t have to be as prescriptive about growth targets when planning since you can utilize a service provider’s infrastructure and scale as necessary. And, all of that gives you agility – reach more markets, reach existing markets faster, and be more efficient while you’re doing it. In another words, you can grow.
What’s the catch?
Well, sometimes cloud is a little too good to be true. What about your applications that you can’t put on a public cloud? Those that need security, have performance requirements, need high availability, etc. How about those legacy environments? Can anyone say “mainframe?” Despite rumors to the contrary, mainframe is NOT dead. There are a variety of reasons enterprises aren’t packing up all their applications and moving them wholesale into the public cloud. It might be controversial but, “it’s not all cloud all the time.”
A video describing the potential pitfalls on the road to harnessing the advantages of cloud computing:
So what are people doing?
Well, they’re evaluating their options. It starts with having a fundamental understanding of your business challenge. What are you trying to do? (For those of you who are confused on this see paragraph two above). Businesses face the same fundamental challenges – grow, be profitable, or die.
You need to understand that your IT environment will most likely be a hybrid IT environment. Notice I didn’t say, “Hybrid Cloud.” Most enterprises will have to maintain mixed infrastructures of heterogenous environments. For those that need the translation: at least one of these things is not like the other.
(het·ero·ge·neous. adjective \ˌhe-tə-rə-ˈjē-nē-əs, ˌhe-trə-, -nyəs\: consisting of dissimilar or diverse ingredients or constituents ). Meaning that you will have a lot of old stuff that is stable, that you’ve already paid for, works well, has the security you need AND you’ll have some new stuff like cloud and hosted private cloud that you will need to incorporate. Oh, and they’ll all need to play well together.
The good news is you can have it all
So think about your business challenge and make sure you are asking the right questions when considering cloud – is it the right fit for your application? If not, what is?