Control your cloud destiny

By Kent Christensen
11/1/2011

The drumbeat around enterprise cloud computing continues to get louder. More and more organizations want to have a conversation about how cloud can impact their businesses. Some because they need a defensible position on cloud for c-level bosses. Others because they want to be proactive and apply the benefits of cloud computing to drive their organizations' business models.

The industry doesn't make this subject easy to navigate. What traditional storage, network, servers, software, Internet-based business process services, or shared infrastructure services providers do not offer their products or services as cloud centric? While all of these suppliers may provide components of your ultimate cloud infrastructure, none will likely offer the complete solution.

cloudMost organizations will likely end up with a hybrid solution that includes internal services (private cloud), external software services (SaaS) and some component of external infrastructure (public cloud). However, organizations still need to drive the requirements to address user needs, security, service levels, costs, and most importantly, control. That's the fundamental question: Who will control this complex hybrid cloud?

Most organizations want to maintain control. The fact is that whoever maintains control determines costs versus service levels. A simple example is the interaction between an organization's private cloud infrastructure and public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings. An IaaS provider will offer a way to port applications to its infrastructure and manage those applications – effectively pulling and managing the applications. A true hybrid cloud infrastructure model might enable the organization to manage the SLAs for the applications and leverage external IaaS when it makes sense from a cost/performance prospective, effectively pushing applications to a provider when the public infrastructure provides services more efficiently than existing internal infrastructure.

By having an organization control the interaction between internal and external infrastructures, they ultimately control the cost benefit analysis on each transaction.  It's similar to using web travel services versus determining up front to always use a specific airline for travel needs. For cloud the key to controlling the interaction between internal and external infrastructures lies in the orchestration and management layer. Expect to hear a lot about the options in the next 12-24 months.

Adopting a cloud model of IT services is a decision than can provide significant benefits to the business. It also creates a number of significant organizational changes and decisions. Many analysts agree with Datalink that one of the most fundamental is the decision to own your cloud strategy and apply technologies and services that address your needs.