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The uneven future: 2 telling views of cloud adoption

Bernard Golden | July 22, 2014
Contrary to what case studies tell you, most IT departments aren't quite ready to support cloud infrastructure. The more you think about it, the easier it is to understand why.

As another datapoint, the report states that public IaaS/PaaS is being used to replace on-premises infrastructure as well as create what Forrester refers to as "complementary applications." These extend on-premises applications to provide more functionality, as when new cloud-based applications extend existing systems of record to enable richer engagement with customers or partners.

However, as to the overall future of IT infrastructure, the Forrester report presents a very different picture. Looking out five years, one sees that, according to Forrester's estimates, the vast majority of total server and storage spend won't be put into service in cloud environments. Of 2020's $230 billion total investment, Forrester sees only 19 percent serving as cloud infrastructure. I interpret this to mean that 81 percent will be spent on supporting traditional IT infrastructure on-premises data centers with manually managed environments running static application topologies.

Overall, the message of Forrester's report is mixed. Public cloud computing is experiencing rapid growth (hypergrowth, even), but that growth represents but a small percentage of overall computing, even five years into the future. Bottom line: The future of IT infrastructure looks a lot like the past, with a smidgen of public cloud computing overlaid on it.

Why the Cloud You Want Isn't the Cloud You Deserve

Second, there's Matt Asay's discussion (title above) of a presentation given by former Gartner analyst and Red Hat general manager Alessandro Perilli at the recent Red Hat Summit.

According to Asay, Perilli notes that many people expect an on-premises cloud to provide the same capabilities as a public cloud: Simple access, consumption-based cost, easy elasticity and low-overhead governance. Instead, they find that most on-premises cloud environments are complex, expensive, costly, heavily governed (presumably, this means highly manual, trouble ticket-based management) and capacity constrained.

But according to Asay, Perilli says this shouldn't be a surprise. The vision that on-premises clouds can easily be implemented is one foisted by vendors onto IT organizations. Instead of being surprised or frustrated by the limited capability of an on-premises cloud, recognize the following:

  • It's early in most IT organization's cloud implementation efforts. These efforts should be measured against on-premises existing infrastructure capabilities, not best-of-breed public providers.
  • Providing "real" cloud capabilities (simple, cheap, low-overhead governance) requires significant restructuring and process re-engineering. That's hard. Expecting too much too soon is unrealistic, given the constraints under which most IT organizations operate.
  • Instead of expecting "real" cloud capabilities today, IT should focus on a long-term improvement process, starting with something achievable say, a test/development cloud that addresses software engineer desires for agile development and methodically proceed over the next few years to layer on additional "real" functionality.

Warped Thoughts on Future of IT, Cloud Shouldn't Be Surprising


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