What To Consider When Considering the Cloud

Is 2015 the year you’re going to move your business to the cloud? There are things to consider before making the move.

Rafat Shaheen, Senior IT Strategist, Enterprise Cloud Solutions, has written a white paper on the topic for SearchSoftwareQuality.com. It is sponsored by Rackspace.

He says, “More than ever before, Enterprise IT must be a strategic partner to the business. By focusing more on innovation and less on operations, the IT organization can help the enterprise achieve a new level of competitive advantage. This re-focusing of priorities changes the way most organizations think about how IT services are delivered and consumed.”

Shaheen adds, “Once considered a fad, cloud is proving to be a well-traveled path to achieve more efficiency, agility, and innovation—without the burdens of hardware procurement, lengthy deployment timelines, and ongoing management hassles. Today, cloud is a viable business model delivering real benefits for real-world use cases. In fact, 86% of companies use more than one cloud service.”

That last statistic comes from a 2012 Cloudability survey of more than 3,200 customers in more than 80 different countries. The survey found the average number of cloud services is 4.2 per company. It is also two times more likely that a company will have more than one cloud account.

These are the 10 considerations Shaheen lays out.

  • Policy-Based Computing: System administrators and decision makers need intuitive tools to manage the guide- lines and policies that control behavior and interactions on cloud-driven systems. Policy- based computing — the software paradigm for building cloud resource management tools — eases IT management by simplifying the control of remote systems.
  • Cloud-Aware Applications: In the cloud, there are two important characteristics that can enhance application performance. First, compute resources are inherently abundant and disposable. Second, delivery of services over the Internet entails multiple dependencies.
  • Specialized Clouds: A specialized cloud can give the healthcare entity and the HR firm a turnkey cloud outfitted with elements that are customized to the specific needs of that industry, workload, or business process.
  • Fully Distributed Data Center: The fully distributed data center model uses cloud resources to deliver services regard- less of source or location. A hybrid cloud is the most practical delivery model, involving service provisioning from a combination of on-premise, external cloud providers, and other distributed locations.
  • Moving Off Big Iron: Imagine a world without the big iron servers in the data center. It’s just around the corner. Many applications being migrated to the cloud are architected to utilize open source technologies. These technologies leverage smaller systems that can scale both horizontally and massively.
  • Mandate for DevOps: The term DevOps implies a combination of software development and operations. It describes a practice that streamlines the software delivery process and improves the cycle time from inception to deployment with an emphasis on feedback for better quality software. This practice strikes a balance between the need to change (to deliver new features and functions by the software development team) and the fear of change (addressing system stability by the operations team).
  • Rise of Big Data: By using cloud storage and management tools to increase the usability of data by just 10%, a median Fortune 1000 company could reap over $2 billion a year in added revenue. That according to Gartner’s “Forecast: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 2010–2016, 2Q12 Update”
  • True Cloud Federation: The closed proprietary platforms in some clouds make it difficult, if not impossible, to move an application deployed on Cloud A to Cloud B. To address those challenges and reduce the chance of platform lock-in, emerging industry standards and open platforms in the cloud (like openStack®) enable total cloud interoperability.
  • The Growth of SaaS: The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) space, one of the key consumption models for cloud, is positioned to become the primary method of distributing and utilizing software. The top growth areas in SaaS through 2016 are office suites, digital content creation, and business intelligence tools.
  • Mission Critical in the Cloud: As cloud technologies evolve and businesses get more comfortable with security and governance, more top tier applications and workloads are expected to find a home in the cloud. Enterprises are being forced to rethink the organizational value of high-maintenance elements like databases, email, and collaboration in light of the resource savings, reli- ability, and expert support delivered in the cloud.
Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping, About.com, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.