Despite businesses and organisations increasingly switch to a cloud-based model, the actual level of knowledge associated with the cloud can actually be pretty slim. Many companies want to put the cloud into practice in a productive way, but lack the experience and understanding to do so effectively.
Additionally, although cloud computing is now developing very rapidly, and already becoming widely adopted, organisations still have completely different notions regarding what the term ‘cloud’ actually refers to.
There are still several different schools of thought on what the term “cloud” really means given that the term cloud computing is currently being applied to a wide range of services. Aside from that, the cloud is also being delivered in a variety of different ways, and also being delivered at many different layers; for example, infrastructure, application platform, software, and business process.
Finally, the implementation of the cloud can be carried out in a number of different ways as well. The hybrid cloud is currently becoming particularly popular, but public and private clouds are also still widely utilised, as well as on-premise and off-premise setups.
While not fully understanding the technology might not seem to be particularly important, in reality failing to understand and pay heed to the numerous variations of the cloud can in fact be a risky business. The cloud does not have a single value proposition for all types of services or enterprises, and can be implemented in a variety of diametrically opposed strategies.
Three separate motivations are currently emerging with regard to embracing cloud computing. And these three motivations will dominate the niche for the foreseeable future. In order to understand the way that the cloud works and its benefits, it is important to be aware of these three reasons for adopting cloud technology.
The first of these three rationales will be naturally of interest to all businesses. The cloud potentially offers economic savings. With the battle to keep a business bottom line as profitable as possible in this competitive global marketplace, cloud computing offers a great deal of potential.
In cloud only strategies, this particular motivation is very much prominent. And, of course, with the right cloud operation and setup it is an absolutely correct belief. But it is also worth bearing in mind that cloud computing is not inherently cheaper if poorly implemented. Many services can be effectively outsourced to the cloud in order to save money, but if the wrong services are outsourced then the whole process will be counter-productive.
Highly standardised commodity services that have varied demand for infrastructure over time tend to be the best services to outsource to the cloud. If you’re looking to retrofit existing applications then you should bear in mind that this can be prohibitively expensive. Cloud computing will save money, but only if you use it for the correct applications and services.
The second key motivation for the cloud is that it offers the opportunity to completely renovate enterprise information technology. Underpinning this notion is the idea that the cloud is the perfect form of computing, and that enterprise IT should alter its workings in order to make a broad brush adoption of the cloud. In accordance with this, enterprise IT organisations are often inclined to alter their entire infrastructure into a private cloud.
This is fine in principle, but it is certainly worth bearing in mind that not all IT applications suit this style of IT service design and delivery. The advantage of the cloud is its speed of deployment and scalability, yet not all IT services benefit from these useful characteristics. Some applications and services benefit from differentiation and customisation, so just dumping everything into a private cloud can be pointless, or even detrimental to a business.
Private clouds can drive efficiency and can raise standards within a business, but they must be applied to the right services in the correct fashion.
Finally, the cloud offers an exciting opportunity to innovate and experiment. The principal behind this is often particularly held by start-ups, which see this powerful new technology as an all-encompassing weapon in their quest for world domination.
Certainly the cloud does offer a powerful platform for IT, and there is absolutely no doubt that it is an exciting and innovative technology. Additionally, the low barrier to entry of cloud computing can make it an extremely viable option for even the smallest businesses. However, the challenge for enterprises is to enable innovation and experimentation, but to also retain a workable path from pilots to production with regard to the cloud and its operational industrialisation.
While cloud computing is something that businesses should be embracing, it is wrong to make the assumption that the cloud delivers the same sort of value for all enterprises and services. A cloud computing strategy should encompass a combination of these three approaches, and utilise a variety of strategies. Effectively, in line with the notion that the hybrid cloud is becoming increasingly prominent, IT departments need to adopt what is being referred to as a hybrid IT strategy with their cloud deployment.