The common best-practices associated with managed cloud service utilization are hard to find, since the early-adopters rarely share their insights. Of course, for all the other people that are still assessing the potential benefits, that guidance is truly invaluable.
Therefore, it's very helpful that Forrester Research was able to interview more than 60 organizations that are currently leveraging Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud-based solutions within their business environment.
Forrester defines public IaaS cloud computing as the delivery of compute (virtualized servers, storage, and networking) on-demand as a shared service. Based on their findings, they say that the evolving usage characteristics fall primarily into three emerging practices.
Test and Development in the Cloud
The most common practice they found among enterprise users of IaaS cloud platforms was to build and validate new apps. Cloud platforms provide relief for in-house test and development teams who face resource constraints. Moving these actions to the cloud relieves a significant IT burden, but only for apps that are suited to the cloud -- those that can fit within the confines of a virtual server.
Deploying Web Applications
The majority of applications deployed on public cloud infrastructures are Web-based apps. Early users of IaaS clouds have found the greatest benefits with Web apps that are short-term oriented and/or unpredictable or volatile traffic patterns. These types of apps can best take advantage of the pay-per-use element of cloud infrastructures to right-size the cost of deployment to the behaviors of the apps.
Another good fit with IaaS cloud platforms is high-performance computing. These often massively parallel programs can be scaled-out to effectively tackle very large problems, and the constraints of HPC are usually the size of compute grid that can be deployed. Enterprises are constantly having to trade off grid size and cost against speed of getting the result. Apparently, IaaS clouds provide relief to this tension.
Next Wave of Manage Cloud Service Apps
According to Forrester, given the above mentioned IaaS best practices, the next wave of cloud services best practices that infrastructure and operations professionals should focus on are as follows:
- Leveraging cloud management applications and services.
- Cloud bursting -- to maximize scaling within the cloud.
- Integrating cloud services with data center services.
- Leveraging cloud-scale services.
So, where should you start? Forrester suggests, make sure you have supportive executives who will view your use of cloud computing as empowering for the business -- not as a threat to infrastructure and operations. Then, start experimenting with the common applications listed.
Clearly, IT and network out-tasking has a place in most organizations. Forrester says that their key findings show that cloud, while truly compelling, shouldn't be viewed as a replacement for the data center. It is, however, a viable alternative approach to consider.