Cloud computing is growing. After polling three-quarters of the Global 500 companies, Gartner recently predicted that spending on the cloud is expected to rise to US$109 billion this year, up from US$91 billion last year. For CIOs in Asia Pacific, the hybrid cloud model is a particularly attractive approach given that it can bring together the best of private and public clouds.
Like any technology, much of cloud computing's value will come from an organisation's ability to identify the best approach for its requirements. IDC recently revealed some 'realities' of cloud computing, based on customers' use of the cloud trifecta - public, private and hybrid - as reported at the June 2012 IDG/IDC Cloud Leadership Forum.
Among these cloud truths, it is believed that public clouds, and clouds that feed on-premise IT systems receive the closest scrutiny regarding security, availability and manageability. This scrutiny is likely to intensify as a larger percentage of all IT workloads are re-deployed into the cloud and hosted by outside providers across multiple geographies.
The promise of cost savings continues to be one big driver of cloud adoption, but a speaker from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) cautioned that "organisations need to try out public cloud services to determine, for themselves, the service level agreement (SLAs) on offer - and to determine whether they are adequate for a specific workload", said Jean S. Bozman in the July article "As Cloud Computing Matures, Customers Focus on Security, Availability, and Management".
"It's better to learn as you go, and keep walking," said JPL's Soderstrom, "rather than looking for the perfect cloud solution when first deploying a given application on the public cloud."
Cloud building blocks
But cloud computing isn't just, or even primarily, about tactical cost cutting. It's about putting in place a faster and more flexible IT infrastructure in support of an organisation's business.
That makes building a cloud a highly strategic IT decision, perhaps the most important single decision CIOs will make in this decade. But not all approaches are created equal. Of the three basic models for building a cloud, one maximises the value of that cloud and the business benefit derived from it.
The first approach attempts to translate the "greenfield" methodology used by service providers into an enterprise environment. This is alluringly, but also naively, simple. For the vast majority of organisations, IT assets tarred with the pejorative "legacy" are also critical and core to the business so it's not possible to just start over from scratch.
The second approach builds a cloud from a small part of existing infrastructure, such as an existing virtualisation platform. The result? Rather than breaking down and cutting across silos with your cloud, you've created a new silo.
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