Like any new business technology, the early development of cloud services can be a little confusing -- as some descriptions are still open to interpretation. However, the dialog is helpful, because it enables us to focus on the true business value of data center resources.
According to Forrester Research, cloud computing platforms are more than shared multi-tenant infrastructures on the public Internet. There are three infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud deployment options available; each has unique characteristics and economics.
Forrester’s three cloud service scenarios follow:
Which cloud service scenario is a best-fit for your business needs? Well, that depends upon a number of related factors -- such as your organizational bias for direct control, sensitivity to risk, and overall usage requirements for a cloud computing platform.
Public Cloud Scenario
Public clouds are easily accessible, multi-tenant virtualized infrastructures that are managed via a self-service portal. They deliver superior economies of scale to customers, as the infrastructure costs are spread among all users, giving each individual client an attractive low-cost, pay-per-use model.
They are managed and supported by the cloud provider and are typically homogeneous, meaning all customers share the same pool of infrastructure with limited configuration, security protections, and availability variances.
Internal Cloud Scenario
Internal clouds have similar characteristics of a public cloud, but hosted within your own data center. They leverage more of your standard processes and protections, but tend to be limited in size and scale. Your IT organization must incur the full capital and operational costs for the physical resources.
They are best for applications where you want complete control and configurability of the infrastructure and security. This most often applies to applications that manage sensitive information that is subject to strict compliance standards.
Hosted Cloud Scenario
Hosted clouds are hybrids -- a multi-tenant cloud atop rented resources, but dedicated to a single client. They help you avoid the capital and operational expense of an internal cloud, growing and shrinking the size of the cloud as needed by simply renting more resources (often added via a pay-per-use model) but providing more custom SLAs.
They give you more flexibility, where you can adjust the security as needed, specify the infrastructure elements to be used, the SLA to be applied, and set other constraints not available on a shared public cloud.
Plus, the cloud is managed by a Service Provider -- rather than your IT team. However, the economics of hosted clouds are more like managed hosting than public clouds -- since the servers that make up the cloud are typically fully dedicated to you.
Evolutionary Pathway to Cloud Services
Forrester concludes that cloud services are infrastructure deployment options that help businesses better match the needs of the application with computing resources. It’s the integration between these infrastructures that delivers the greatest value.
The goal is to speed IT service delivery, while reducing costs. Therefore, consider all options. Ask your service provider to explain their offerings, and if they can provide a pathway to virtual private cloud services -- between your data center and their cloud infrastructure.
Do you have your head in the clouds? Well, if so, then you're surely not alone. In breaking news, eWeek reports that Cisco Systems is pulling together key pieces of its data center and networking portfolios to create a blueprint for building a cloud computing infrastructure for service providers.
Is this yet another business technology hype-cycle, or is there something truly remarkable occurring that builds upon the escalating widespread adoption of IT managed service and hosting service offerings?
Cisco's Simon Aspinall provides the context for the launch of the Unified Service Delivery solution, as he shares an analogy that explains why innovation sometimes requires starting the design process from a totally different point of view.
The cloud computing phenomenon is generating a lot of interest worldwide because of its potential to offer services on-demand -- at lower cost than current options, and with significantly less complexity, greater scalability, and wider reach.
Motivation for Cloud Services Adoption
A study by the University of California, Berkeley entitled "Above the Clouds: A Berkeley View of Cloud Computing" looked at cloud computing from the end-user perspective. It focused on three features that are major advancements for you, the business and IT decision maker:
- The illusion of infinite computer resources available on demand that eliminate the need for you to plan far ahead for provisioning.
- No need for an up-front commitment by your business, allowing you to start small and increase your use of cloud services as needed.
- The pay-as-you-go model that allows you to buy just what they need, and what you can budget, either on a short-term or ongoing basis.
Cloud Service Call to Action
The on-demand nature of cloud computing is also a productivity boon to both the enterprise CEO and the CIO, allowing them to quickly react to changing market conditions and opportunities. Are you ready to out-task your next IT or enterprise networking related project?
If you need to gain a deeper understanding of how this emerging space of new business technology is developing, then consider the "Working in the Cloud" Industry Round-Up Report series from THINKstrategies.
Business technology has gone through several major changes over the decades. Each transformation brought new ways to perform work -- it also allowed some organizations to leapfrog over their less-agile competition.
"Today's CEO concerns provide an advanced look at what will become CIO priorities in six to 18 months," said Jorge Lopez, vice president at Gartner, Inc. The focus for the IT agenda in the face of economic uncertainty and risk is flexibility, and renewed business agility.
According to Gartner's assessment, CIOs need to ensure that their IT operations are ready for the ongoing challenges and shifts that are sure to emerge.
Defined as the ability to achieve financial and strategic plans, effectiveness gives enterprises the flexibility to meet challenge with change. So, how will CIOs improve effectiveness to meet new economic and operational challenges?
Business Imperative for Cloud-based Services
IT leaders are increasingly being asked to move all non-strategic IT functions to the cloud; to develop IT core competencies and skills to manage virtual resources; and to embrace new applications that capitalize on cloud computing, collaboration, mobility and social media.
Worldwide cloud services revenue will reach $56.3 billion in 2009, a 21.3 percent increase from 2008, according to the latest study by Gartner. The market is expected to reach $150.1 billion in 2013.
Much of the cloud computing news centers on systems infrastructure as a service (IaaS). In 2008, these services accounted for only 5.5 percent of the overall cloud services market and are forecast to reach 6 percent in 2009.
"Cloud-based infrastructure services are expected to see significant adoption through 2013," said Ben Pring, vice president at Gartner. "This segment probably has the largest range of possible outcomes, depending on how aggressively cloud computing is embraced."
Cloud application services, evolving from software as a service (SaaS) offerings, were almost twice as large as the market for systems infrastructure and will continue to show strong growth.
Lower Cost Drives Cloud Services Growth
Over the next five years an increasing array of application functionality will become available as IT managed cloud services -- to supplement those current cloud applications.
"The IT market trends for the next couple of years remain highly uncertain. While short-term growth is expected to be inhibited, the potentially lower cost of cloud services is attractive to customers and will drive growth for these offerings," said Mr. Pring.
Given that backdrop, what new demand are you experiencing for cloud-based services? Are you reaching out to service providers, to learn more about their evolving on-demand service offerings?