Like any business project that relies substantially on information technology, companies considering a new cloud computing use case should undergo the standard two-level validation process: business validation and technology validation.
Cloud computing continues to validate its business worth as evidenced by its growing acceptance and pervasiveness across many industries and applications. Technical validation should encompass not only functional and operational viability of an application in the cloud, but should also include efforts around mitigating the key cloud concerns — security, vendor lock-in, integration with current systems and portability across providers.
I'm attending the Gartner Data Center Summit 2012 and there are many discussions about emerging cloud technologies, replete with comparisons between vendor and provider solutions, as well as functional juxtaposition against the many promises of various open source technologies. With acceptance moving from private and public cloud toward the hybrid, or operationally integrated model, the technical validations of portability and integration become substantially more important than in just a single cloud.
It is vital for companies looking to take more business-critical applications into the cloud, that the ability to validate the aspects of good IT operational governance be available. Cloud APIs and stack, orchestration and management layers all play a role here. These must also be viewed in the context of the desired lifecycle of the application(s) being moved to the cloud.
Be prepared for the fact that open cloud technology standards have largely not been codified yet. Companies will need to select platforms that work for them now and provide the primary benefits reasonably well over the target lifecycle, especially in the areas of integration, orchestration, portability or management.
These principals are fundamentally why Datalink developed and now provides our suite of cloud readiness services. Offerings not only include our advisory services around assessments and proofs-of-concept, but also offer a very rich set of cloud software and hardware instances that are highly flexible and configurable by our customers — provided for the specific purpose of cloud testing and validation. The experience helps steward our customers through the business and technical validation aspects described here. Customers now have a great sandbox for cloud testing and development from which they can benefit greatly in the validation process, as well as in a bit of future-proofing as well.