I recently wrote about the need for IT organizations to embrace SaaS to maintain relevance and help drive business value. This quarter, I’ve set my sights on IaaS. In my forthcoming report, “IaaS Adoption Trends In Asia Pacific”, I explain in detail why my advice remains the same.
Internal IT resistance to expanding IaaS usage based on security, data management, and availability/performance concerns are certainly valid. But project-driven, opportunistic IaaS usage will continue to grow across the region as business decision-makers rationally seek out public cloud-based services that meet needs not met by internal IT.
IT decision-makers failing to consider all service-provisioning options will see their credibility wane and their control usurped by the inevitable emergence of shadow IT, driven by clear business demand. On the positive side, as usage expands internally, I’ve already seen Asia Pacific organizations begin viewing IaaS as a mechanism to fuel innovation based on easy access to cloud-based compute resources. Put another way, IaaS supply is beginning to fuel increased demand.
Some key recommendations for encouraging IaaS-related innovation while minimizing risks:
View automated management capabilities as a primary evaluation criteria, but don’t forget broader governance requirements. Capabilities exposed via administration portals and APIs are crucial to wider adoption as they simplify key tasks like spinning up new servers and managing capacity, reporting on usage, managing data replication and potentially data tiering, and integrating with on-premises systems. But organizations that fail to consider governance, control, and coordination — starting from evaluation/purchasing and implementation and extending to access, integration, and operations management at runtime — risk limiting the overall value of cloud initiatives and creating longer-term management issues.
Don’t let concerns over elasticity of pricing hinder IaaS adoption. Many of the organizations I’ve discussed this topic with over the last several months cited internal concerns over variability of pricing as an early challenge to expanded IaaS adoption. However, in all cases, this concern was quickly rendered moot by far lower spending on IT resources/capacity. I expect sourcing and vendor management and procurement teams to quickly gain comfort with variable pricing. In fact, pricing based on combinations of fixed and variable consumption models will likely become common, potentially further disrupting traditional procurement processes.
Begin planning now to embrace hybrid approaches to IaaS usage . . . For many organizations, IaaS usage will start as a reactive response to existing business or IT demand. But once multiple IaaS-driven projects are in place, IT’s role will likely center on improving coordination across various groups, many of whom may be leveraging different cloud approaches and/or providers. The exception may be among very large organizations and potentially government agencies, where enterprise-level governance and control is likely to start earlier. Organizations seeking improved control should start by identifying the most likely and/or valuable use cases. This will help IT position itself as enablers versus barriers and also increase IT’s credibility in educating business decision-makerse on when/where various approaches should be used.
. . . but don’t expect to migrate all existing applications. As my colleague James Staten pointed out in his report, Don’t Move Your Apps To The Cloud, organizations will not be able to simply move existing applications and workloads to the cloud and expect them to work well. Instead, application development teams should expect to rearchitect much of organizations’ existing application portfolio as the inherently “scale-out” nature of public cloud-based IaaS can be suboptimal — meaning very slow — for running applications designed for single server scale-up-type implementation scenarios.
The benefits of IaaS in reducing infrastructure costs and allowing organizations to quickly ramp up business capabilities far outweigh the risks. As opportunistic IaaS usage gives way to more strategic initiatives over the next two or three years, the potential positive impact on both IT, and broader business strategies, will rise.
Michael Barnes is Vice President, Research Director at Forrester Research, serving Applications Development and Delivery professionals. For more insights, please follow @Forrester and @mb_analyst.
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