The hype curve for cloud computing is at an all-time high, for pretty good reasons. The convergence of Internet technologies, virtualisation and large-scale data centres has created a powerful new way to deliver information technology (IT) services, with many organisations already putting clouds to work. According to IDC, by 2013, customer spending on IT cloud services will more than double to US$44.2 billion from 2009 . The promise of increased efficiency and agility of enterprise-class applications and services is intriguing, but enterprise customers are struggling with how cloud services can safely add realistic business value.
Because cloud computing can have such a profound impact on a companys IT model not to mention its business model technology, business leaders need to have a framework for discussing cloud and understand the broader impact cloud computing could have on their organisations. Its not just about the challenge of determining the right cloud vendors and implementation strategies. Its also about data management policies, security, risk, compliance and even tax strategies, and these are only a handful of the areas that can be significantly impacted by cloud adoption.
Why are organisations hesitant to make the shift? One of the main concerns is the different IT architecture that cloud vendors have from organisations existing architecture. This makes it a challenge for organisations to migrate parts of their IT infrastructures onto the cloud, as they often have to be rewritten or built from scratch. This is time-consuming, places a heavy drain on existing resources, and also potentially causes service disruptions. At the same time, there are security issues to consider. Clouds are after all shared spaces and some organisations are naturally wary of their data privacy and protection.
Making the transition
The question to ask is how do you transition your existing environment, either in part or whole, to the cloud? It is a critical question to answer, and the migration has to be a reliable and efficient process that does not interrupt the business. Some organisations have opted for a hybrid model. Ideally, the hybrid approach allows the organisations to take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness that a public cloud computing environment offers without exposing mission-critical applications and data to third-party vulnerabilities. With the hybrid approach, organisations will have to work closely with their vendors to create a virtual image that can be easily configured with their existing infrastructure. This requires the in-house IT team to have the expertise and capabilities to create such a virtualised environment, which may pose a challenge to organisations with smaller IT support teams.
With different vendors having different architectures, which not only vary from vendor to vendor but from vendor to client, matching infrastructure becomes a difficult and tedious process. Organisations are seeking convenience and a unified platform. As such, they are reluctant to spend significant amount of time, money and resources on transporting their IT infrastructure to an external or virtual source, especially without much short-term benefits and the potential for large-scale disruption of their IT services.
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