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December 17, 2010
Vol.32 Issue 26|
Page(s) 12 in print issue
Cloud Computing Trends To Watch
It's Shaping Up To Be A Private, Virtual & Hybrid Marketplace
Cloud computing may seem overhyped, but there’s a good reason: It represents a new way to run IT, and that new way is very enticing. The new computing paradigm shifts IT costs from capital expenses to operational expenses, which rise and fall with usage. That shift enables a new type of flexibility, and the time it takes for a business idea to be delivered by IT drops dramatically. We’ve already witnessed cloud computing moving in a general direction, but what can we expect in the year ahead? Here are some of the upcoming cloud computing trends and technologies that are likely to shape the data center in the next 12 months.
Tim Lozier, marketing manager with EtQ Management Consultants (www.etq.com), believes cloud computing is gathering so much attention for good reason. “I think that, given how much hardware environments cost to maintain, the ability to put your solution in the cloud eliminates the headache of maintaining, upgrading, and monitoring an environment,” Lozier says. “There are no concerns about hitting bandwidth or memory limits, and the cloud is able to fluctuate along with the amount of data that is hitting it. Plus, with the relatively low costs associated with cloud environments, solution providers can offer more features and functionality without worrying about backing up against the servers’ capabilities.”
While cloud computing represents a shift in technology, it does the same for the IT mindset. Michael Sheehan, technology evangelist for GoGrid (www.gogrid.com), says that because IT services are delivered as operating expenditures, they are delivered on demand and in real time or near real time. “This allows for complex infrastructures to be created quickly and easily and be scaled up or down based on demand, usage, or other controls,” he says. “The realized cost and technology efficiencies that the cloud provides are making it a more viable alternative to self-hosting, company-owned data centers with racking and stacking servers that may sit around with minimal usage.” He says companies are able to save money on their IT spend, deploying only what they need, when they need it.
What To Expect
• A key trend to follow is the evolution of the role of the IT department into an orchestrator of services, evaluator of choices, and optimizer of how business services are being delivered.
• IT departments are being told to integrate and consolidate systems to streamline processes within the organization and will likely seek cloud solutions that will perform a number of duties.
• Enterprise departments will adopt more cloud computing technologies as they respond to cloud efficiencies. Expect to see more private clouds, virtual private clouds, and hybrid solutions coming to market.
According to Jay Fry, vice president of marketing for cloud computing at CA Technologies (www.ca.com), the concept that will likely have the greatest impact on the data center over the next few years is the shift from thinking of IT as a factory to a supply chain. “A myriad of cloud services are becoming available,” Fry says. “At the same time, IT is working to make its own internal systems more responsive and competitive. But business users have realized they can get a lot of their IT needs taken care of by going around IT completely and buying these outside services.” However, that’s a short-term fix, Fry says. That’s because the rigor around security, management, compliance, and other topics that IT tries to maintain are still needed.
“So, the key trend is the evolution of the role of IT,” Fry continues. “For smaller companies, it could shrink quite a bit. But in all cases, the role needs to morph into an orchestrator of services, evaluator of choices, and someone who has the capability to optimize how the business services are being delivered. That’s a big job, obviously, and a big shift.” He says as a result, it’s also likely that IT pros will depend more and more on communities of cloud computing experts as trusted advisors and sources of the most useful information.
Many IT departments are being told to integrate and consolidate systems to streamline processes within the organization. Lozier says as this integration and consolidation trend grows, IT professionals are looking for options that will consolidate multiple systems. He explains, “Whether it is operating in the cloud or solutions that can consolidate key business functions, IT professionals are using more virtual environments to reduce their IT infrastructure overhead, looking for systems capable of executing multiple business functions, and systems that can integrate with their [existing systems from big-name vendors].”
Although the past few years were focused on simply defining what cloud computing is, Sheehan says now there are companies that are providing proven and true benefits from a technology and IT perspective. “There is still confusion by the general public as to what ‘the cloud’ is, and mainstream media is not helping with this, lumping anything that is stored on a server somewhere as ‘in the cloud,’ for example,” Sheehan says. “However, technical media and press now better understand the distinction between ‘cloud’ and ‘cloud computing,’ and the resulting services coming out and businesses serving these solutions are much more fine-tuned than in the past.”
Sheehan says he believes there will be more adoption by the enterprise from a cloud computing perspective as departments and business units within these organizations move toward this newly realized efficiency. “We should see more private clouds, virtual private clouds, and hybrid solutions coming to market, as well as a few strategic acquisitions in the marketplace,” he says.
Lozier says that at the end of the day, one of the key things that is more attractive about the cloud is that where once SaaS offerings were multitenant, the cloud now offers a single-tenant instance of the solution for the same cost. “So, rather than sharing an environment with multiple companies, cloud computing has enabled vendors to offer a single, personal enterprise environment for about the same cost,” he says, adding that this eliminates any bandwidth, security, or data retrieval concerns for the customer and has been a huge selling point for enterprise software.
But change doesn’t come without worries, says Fry, who explains that standard concerns such as security, compliance, and even organizational issues must be dealt with in new ways. “Large IT departments can become orchestrators of a supply chain of IT services, some services coming from inside their data centers and some coming from outside the company’s four walls,” Fry says. “Smaller companies may choose to forgo big investments in IT resources (infrastructure and expertise) or a data center altogether.”
by Chris A. MacKinnon
Top Trend: Private Clouds |
With the amount of Internet bandwidth and access available today, it’s now feasible for companies to shift from buying and running expensive, dedicated computers, networks, and storage themselves to renting some or all of their computing needs “as a service” over the Internet instead. Jay Fry, vice president of marketing for cloud computing at CA Technologies (www.ca.com), says that with cloud computing, you only pay for what you use, and you can add or subtract what you need on a minute-by-minute basis. “Larger organizations are also starting to apply these same concepts to their internal IT resources, creating private clouds that are much better at matching the resources that are needed to deliver on a given business need,” Fry says.