Cloud Services Interest Erupts in Groundswell

The anticipated benefits from adopting managed cloud services have reached the executives suites of many corporations. Proactive CEOs and CFOs are pushing their IT leadership team to seek out actionable information and guidance.

There's also a constant stream of service providers announcing new offerings -- and the momentum is becoming a global phenomenon. As a result, Forrester Research has witnessed an expanding number of client inquiries around cloud computing.

The acceleration in market development has been building for some time now. Forrester analysts responded to more than 264 client inquiries about cloud computing between January 2008 and April 1, 2009 from companies of all sizes and industries.

IT Teams are Adopting Cloud Strategies
Once considered a niche business technology where awareness was viewed as optional, Forrester now says that knowledge of cloud computing has become an IT organization necessity. Interest is fueled by expectations of major cost savings, scalable and dynamic environments, on-demand infrastructure, and much smaller maintenance requirements.

In a recent research note, Forrester outlined the most common questions about cloud services.

Twenty-three percent of cloud computing inquiries were about the types of applications that companies were moving into the cloud and how best to leverage cloud service environments. People want to know the spectrum of possibilities -- what apps to put in the cloud?

Some questions are motivated by the need for improved business agility. The promise of better scalability and versatility makes cloud services appealing. Moreover, innovation is often stifled by the investment needed to acquire and deploy new IT infrastructure and associated application environments.

Fifteen percent of the inquiries were on challenges, risks, and the effects of cloud-based services on IT -- such as, what are the typical use cases, and how much enterprise data should live in public clouds?

Clouds are Coexisting in Hybrid Models
Forrester believes questions regarding when to build internal clouds, and the "internal vs. external" debate, will be at the forefront of cloud computing due diligence in the coming months -- which cloud service scenario is a best-fit for our particular needs?

Forrester concluded from their client engagements that cloud computing represents a significant shift in the way IT operates today -- it's not a passing fad, it's a trend that's based upon solid business need for a change in the status quo.

The following are Forrester's recommendations:
  • Know your costs, requirements, and potential areas for cost saving.
  • Businesses with basic requirements can begin to pilot public clouds.
  • Evaluate internal clouds, while also considering a hybrid model.
  • Formulate standards, and a cloud policy to govern procurement.
As the momentum for managed cloud services continue to build in 2009, we'll be on the lookout for additional sources of insight.

Demand for Lean, Green Business Technology

According to a recent market study by Datamonitor, the current global economic recession may also prove to be a significant driver for Green Computing. Their market assessment raises lots of questions -- including, is it better for the world, and overall business profitability, if executives cut-back on their IT investments?

"The global economic recession has spurred a paradigm shift in the way organizations evaluate, budget for and deploy green IT," says Rhonda Ascierto, senior analyst at Datamonitor. "The downturn has also resulted in green IT trends for datacenters, client devices and asset lifecycle management, as well as re-shaped return on investment (ROI) models."

Datamonitor believes green IT that's intended to eliminate the need for capital expenditure -- such as datacenter virtualization, facility design and asset lifecycle management -- has become very important, especially as IT budgets are trimmed.

Lean and Green in 2009
Their research uncovered that lean IT budgets will likely be the norm in 2009, and that organizations will predominately seek green IT solutions because they're cost-effective. This represents a significant market trend, in their opinion.

Green ROI models are becoming compulsory and shorter. In order for green IT vendors to satisfy these new ROI requirements, they're being forced to develop more efficient solutions. However, when it comes to new IT equipment investments, if "less" is more, then "none" can be even better.

Business technology budget constraints force CIOs and IT managers to think beyond legacy approaches to a current problem. As a result, organizations that face critical datacenter limitations are already considering alternatives to building new datacenters or upgrading existing facilities.

Alternatives to IT Capital Investment
Those alternatives include IT leasing, managed services, virtualization software, cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS). Datamonitor believes datacenter resources will increasingly be hosted in a cloud-based environment, which should -- at least theoretically, they say -- fall under the green IT banner.

Clearly, it really doesn't matter what you call your own concerted plan to reduce and contain operating expenses -- in contrast, what matters most is that you take appropriate action now.

Perhaps you're still wondering if the selective out-tasking of business technology is something that your executive team should act upon. If so, you might consider also reading the recent editorial in a mainstream business magazine entitled "The IT Companies Shouldn't Buy" and then ask yourself some of the same fundamental questions about your own business strategy.