Cloud Services Adoption in Asia-Pacific

It's the time of year when most business technology market research and consulting companies release their predictions for the new year. In its annual outlook for 2010, IDC predicts the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) spending and growth in the Asia-Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ) region will reach $184 billion -- with a 7.7% growth over this year.

IDC predicts most growth will come from India and China, although all countries are expected to experience varying degrees of growth.

"While budgets are still tight, and the buying patterns may have changed irrevocably from what the ICT industry has been accustomed to, the fact remains that there is cautious optimism in the market with some interesting pockets of surprising growth," said Simon Piff, Head of IDC's Asia-Pacific Predictions Committee for 2010.

The net result of the economic slowdown has been an overarching change in how and why companies make new business technology investments.

Proven Technologies Ready for Adoption
IDC foresees projects that generate immediate ROI and tangible improvements in managerial and operational efficiencies will continue to be the ones that garner quick executive buy-in.

The key enabling technologies for 2010 are not necessarily new, as much as they are a more mature and robust implementation of proven solutions that have been available for a while.

Cloud Computing, last year's emerging focus area, will move from being merely a buzzword to a deployment reality -- as service providers address the challenges of providing managed cloud services and organizations realize the flexibility that these solutions can provide.

In fact, cloud services ranks number one on the “Top Ten key IDC predictions that will shape the ICT industry in APEJ in 2010.”

The Maturing of Cloud Services
According to IDC's assessment, service level agreement (SLA) options will improve. They believe that the combination of five-nines performance guarantees -- plus robust business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) capabilities -- will be the compelling new adoption momentum that accelerates cloud service growth.

In 2010, the large organizations that are ready to deploy managed cloud services will do so, demanding the same SLAs with BCDR capabilities.

IDC's annual predictions for ICT includes the latest research results from their 1000+ analysts. This insight was followed by an extensive regional review to weigh in on key industry events, typical user characteristics, vendor strategies and economic measures, that help define the technology trends which would impact and drive the ICT market in the Asia-Pacific region for 2010.

Better Way for SMBs to Collaborate Online

Do you know, is there a better way for businesses to meet online, present projects, and share calendars and ideas anytime, from anywhere? Are you ready to share your experience?

Small- and medium-sized business owners can compete for a chance to win up to $2,000 in a reward card and a free consultation with marketing expert Guy Kawasaki -- by entering The Better Way Challenge.

The challenge, a video contest presented by Verizon and Cisco, is designed to encourage businesses to use new collaborative tools to maintain their competitive edge in a fast-changing environment.

"Innovation and technology will power us out of this recession," said Kawasaki. "The Better Way Challenge enables entrepreneurs to share their victories and defeats, tips and tricks, joys and pains of running a business. Online collaboration and social media can generate business, and these videos will accelerate the learning process for entrepreneurs and business owners."

Entering the Contest is Easy
Just submit a video of less than three minutes that describes "the most challenging part of getting your whole team on the same page."

Contest participants must either be subscribers to the Verizon Collaboration Center, located at the Verizon Small Business Center, or they may sign up for a free 30-day trial. Entrants whose videos are accepted for judging in the contest will also receive additional free six-month subscriptions.

In addition, any business that signs up for the free 30-day trial subscription will automatically be entered into a monthly drawing for a chance to win a Flip Mino HD Camcorder. As many as 90 camcorders will be given away during the six-month promotion.

Profiling Advanced Collaboration in Action
A panel of judges will select three contest finalists, based on the originality and relevance of their videos. The grand-prize winner will receive their free consultation with Kawasaki via Cisco TelePresence.

The second-and third-prize winners will each receive a reward card for $1,000 and one-on-one consultations with industry experts from the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group -- which designs innovative processes and strategic plans for businesses.

All three consultations will be tailored to the specific business needs of the winners and focus on ways in which collaboration and online resources can make their businesses more efficient and competitive.

Monte Beck, Verizon's vice president for small-business product strategy, said, "Small businesses need a lot more than e-mail and Internet access to stay competitive. They need to move fast and utilize tools like the Verizon Collaboration Center that can help them grow their businesses, run them more efficiently and, reduce the cost of doing business."

The Verizon Collaboration Center, powered by Cisco WebEx, offers voice and Web conferencing. It enables users to instantly and effectively collaborate with colleagues, clients and vendors in a virtual environment that is accessible from any web browser.

Business Technology Leader Maturity Framework

As 2009 comes to a close, a recent editorial in CIO magazine sums-up a nagging issue -- "Despite the emergence of improved IT management tools over the past decade, CIOs continue to grapple with the same IT challenges they dealt with five and even 10 years ago. Which can make a CEO wonder: when are we going to get there?"

Forrester Research believes that CIOs have typically run "the tech factory" for their firms -- responding to business needs with solutions and operations from both internal and external sources. These IT leaders have pursued operational maturity to optimize solution delivery.

Forrester says that CIOs won't ever get away from delivering on operational maturity. But as technology becomes pervasive -- more stable, standardized, and available as a business-centric service -- it's inevitable that business executives will take greater direct control over technology investment decisions.

Forrester calls this evolutionary transition the shift from Information Technology (IT) to Business Technology (BT). Let's review the key drivers of this transition once more. It's the essential "there" destination that many CEOs eagerly anticipate for their organization.

Greater Response to Business Demand
Traditional IT establishes prioritization criteria and IT governance processes. Weighed down by growing legacy maintenance, typically a third of IT spending is reserved for new projects. IT therefore creates conflict among business organizations -- who must lobby for those limited IT resources.

Broader Focus on Business Value
IT should help deliver business results, yet it's often consumed by technical issues -- re-educating staff, deciding what to re-architect, and debating whether to build or out-task. Meanwhile, new capabilities are increasingly available through managed cloud services -- and purchased directly by business groups via software-as-a-service.

Significantly Faster Pace of Change
The rate of business change continues to accelerate, forcing CIOs to be reactive -- while attempting to increase agility. The CIO's dilemma: either their business organizations will move ahead without internal IT, or, their business executives will fail to take full advantage of new technologies in time to use them effectively.

Framework for the Required Transformation
To help CIOs understand best practices, Forrester has developed a BT Leadership Maturity framework in the form of a self-assessment. This tool is designed to provide a candid benchmark of how well they are performing -- highlighting specific areas where additional work needs to be done.

Forrester concludes that CIOs who fail to move quickly will find their firm falling behind more agile competition. Those who assess and improve their organization's BT leadership maturity are responding to changing market realities -- as well as reducing the likely chaos that would result from allowing the business to move forward on its own with BT, without the CIO's close involvement.

Many Unprepared for BT Disaster Recovery

Disaster strikes. Your primary place of business is destroyed by a fire tomorrow, are you prepared to recover? According to the historical statistics, fires permanently close 44 percent of the businesses that are affected.

Business continuity planning is the creation and validation of a practiced logistical plan for how an organization will restore interrupted critical functions within a predetermined time after a disaster or extended disruption.

Business Technology survivability is an imperative for many organizations that operate in the global networked economy, yet some are unprepared for a natural disaster. Cisco recently shared the results of an insightful nationwide survey.

Informed, but Otherwise Unprepared
The market study uncovered that while many organizations appreciate the increased employee productivity and other benefits offered by laptop computers, smart phones and virtual private networks, they may be unprepared to enable the majority of their employees to effectively telecommute.

Without the proper networking infrastructures to support remote work by a high percentage of their employees, these organizations will be unable to maintain their operations should their team be blocked from coming into the office for an indefinite period.

The telework preparedness survey, conducted by InsightExpress for Cisco, interviewed 502 information technology decision makers from U.S. businesses of all sizes. The survey questioned IT professionals in the health care, retail, finance, government and education sectors.

Highlights from the study include:
  • 53 percent of the of the IT executives surveyed said that less than half their employees were currently enabled to work remotely; 21 percent said that they have no employees enabled to work remotely.
  • Asked why more employees didn't have access to technology that would enable them to work outside the office, 38 percent said that business requirements did not necessitate it.
  • Only 22 percent of the respondents believe that their current remote-access solutions have positioned their companies for disaster preparedness and business continuity.
  • Just 15 percent of the respondents listed 'pandemic or other disaster preparedness' as a top business driver for providing remote access to employees, and only 5 percent listed it as the primary business driver.
Service Providers Offering Guidance
The results indicate that the majority of companies are not considering the importance of remote-access solutions for potential business interruptions -- focusing more on business technology needs under normal conditions.

In most cases, the cost to implement secure remote access across an entire workforce is a fraction of what the loss of business would be if employees could not work remotely during a crisis. Contact a managed service provider to learn more about the best-fit solution for your particular business needs.

New Normal: Bold IT-Based Business Agility

European business leaders believe their companies are more vulnerable to IT-enabled market disruptions than companies in other parts of the world, according to a new market study by McKinsey & Company.

McKinsey found that 74 percent of European business leaders believed their company was 'very' or 'extremely' exposed to IT-based market disruption. Regardless, only 18 percent of European IT executives believed their companies were 'very effective' at introducing business technology faster and better than their competitors.

According to the McKinsey assessment, European companies need to grasp the opportunity to make bold, transformative moves to ensure their business continues to thrive within the "New Normal" environment of ICT-empowered borderless commerce.

A significant number of businesses have recognized the need to adapt, with 31 percent of European executives saying the development of new products and services in response to changing consumption patterns was a high priority.

'Good Enough' isn't a Winning Strategy
McKinsey believes that the attitude of European business leaders towards IT must shift. Organizations have achieved 'satisfactory' results by attaining some success in improving IT productivity, operational productivity, or innovation.

However, the performance expectation bar is now much higher and "IT must truly excel in all of these dimensions to support a winning company." McKinsey's guidance for European companies includes:
  • Align IT and the business, upgrade business skills of IT leaders and close performance gaps.
  • Improve governance models to facilitate joint decision making and strategic planning between IT and the business.
  • Fundamentally restructure the IT function to dramatically improve productivity.
  • Transform the company's operating model and cost structure with IT-enabled business processes.
  • Enable transformative moves by promoting a mindset that fosters and rewards experimentation with new ideas.
  • Identify opportunities for IT-enabled innovations and be prepared to respond to competitors' disruptive moves.
Outlook: Prepare for More of the Same
McKinsey says companies have begun to recognize that the current recession is not simply another turn of the business cycle but a restructuring of the economic order -- and that they need to look beyond relieving short-term cost pressures.

In summary, the current economic environment should be treated as the benchmark conditions for the foreseeable future. Where's the upside opportunity? Become that 'agent' of change.

McKinsey research has shown that downturns are times when industry leadership often changes. Forty-eight percent of global IT companies and 40 percent of U.S. industrial companies that were leaders before the 2000-01 recession did not retain their leadership positions afterward.

A Managed Service Antidote to Organic IT

The accelerating Organic IT phenomenon is being driven by executive frustration that today's business technology demands are not being fully met by their internal support organization. Some IT teams, however, have taken decisive action to free-up time to become more responsive to their savvy user's requests for new capabilities.

Perhaps that's a key leading indicator why remote managed services have emerged as a rare growth area within this tough economic environment. Clearly, proactively increasing business process agility and cutting operational costs has never been more popular.

As a result, annual spending on remote managed IT services by the North American Small and Medium Business (SMB) sector is expected to increase 3.3 times in the next five years. That represents a compounded annual growth rate of 28 percent, according to the latest market study by AMI-Partners.

Extracting Value from Business Technology
"While SMBs have been steadily increasing their reliance on IT over the last several years, they have always been challenged in managing their growing IT infrastructures. The severe economic conditions of the last one year have forced SMBs to look for more cost effective ways to manage their IT. Remote managed services offered by 3rd parties provide 24/7 availability of critical IT infrastructure -- without increasing the need for internal IT staff," according to Anil Miglani, SVP of IT Infrastructure and Managed Services at AMI.

Apparently, SMBs increasingly use remote IT services to selectively out-task critical areas like security and storage, while others are now extending the use of remote services to manage PCs, servers, networks, communications equipment and various other business technology devices.

Yet, many more businesses could benefit from a managed service solution. "Of the total installed base of 60 million PCs and 8 million servers in North America, only a tiny fraction is currently managed remotely," says Miglani.

Enabled by Cloud-Based Infrastructure
Managed service providers are increasingly offering remote managed services to better serve their customers with fewer resources. While some deliver remote services from their own infrastructures, others have started relying on cloud-based infrastructure solutions.

"By using automated software to remotely monitor and manage their customer's infrastructures, solution providers have increased their productivity while also improving their service levels," according to Melissa Chong, Senior Research Analyst at AMI and chief architect of the study.

The potential growth of this market is also attracting several new types of providers like telecom companies, IT vendors, distributors, retailers and online resellers in the SMB IT services market -- currently dominated by local channel partners.

Given the diverse nature of the SMB market, AMI believes that vendor channel partners will continue to play a critical role, as more IT organizations willingly embrace the out-tasked managed service delivery model now -- rather than react after Shadow IT has taken hold.

The Virtual Computing Environment Coalition

Worldwide spending on data center technology infrastructure and services exceeds $350 billion annually, according to McKinsey and Company estimates, with half of that spent on capital expenses and half on operating expenses.

Further, an estimated 70 percent or more of those costs are expended to maintain existing infrastructures, leaving 30 percent or less for new technology initiatives and applications that can provide breakthrough differentiation for businesses.

It is also estimated that approximately $85 billion, or 20 percent of this total market, can be addressed with data center virtualization and private cloud technology by 2015.

Cisco and EMC, together with VMware, have introduced the Virtual Computing Environment coalition, an unprecedented collaboration of three information technology (IT) industry leaders.

Virtual Computing Environment Coalition Charter
The coalition has been created to accelerate customers' ability to increase business agility through greater IT infrastructure flexibility, and lower IT, energy and real estate costs through pervasive data center virtualization and a transition to private cloud infrastructures.

Cisco, EMC and VMware have worked closely over the past year on a shared vision for the future of enterprise IT infrastructure -- private cloud computing. A private cloud is a virtual IT infrastructure that is securely controlled and operated solely for one organization.

It can be managed either by that organization or a third party, and it can exist on- or off-premise -- or in combination. Private cloud computing offers the controls and security of today's data center with the agility required for business innovation at substantially lower costs.

The Virtual Computing Environment coalition offers organizations of all sizes an accelerated approach to data center transformation with dramatic efficiencies that promise significant reductions in both capital and operating expenses. As a result, organizations will no longer have to choose between best-of-breed technologies and end-to-end vendor accountability.

Ecosystem Collaboration
and Open Innovation
The Virtual Computing Environment coalition already has partners committed to the coalition. This includes representation from the entire partner ecosystem, including systems integrators, value added resellers, service providers, and independent software vendors.

IT Managers Share Their Cloud Experiences

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.

High-Performance Computing
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.
The Beginner's Guide to Cloud Adoption
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.

Culture is Key to Advanced Collaboration

Organizations that deploy the most advanced Internet protocol-based collaboration technologies achieve more than twice the return on their collaboration investment and perform better than their less collaborative peers, according to a thought-provoking Frost & Sullivan market study.

"Meetings Around the World II: Charting the Course of Advanced Collaboration," sponsored by Verizon and Cisco, examines how busy professionals in businesses and government agencies use advanced collaboration tools such as voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), instant messaging or meeting via high definition video or Cisco TelePresence to get their work done.

The study is the first to develop a model for measuring a return on collaboration investment, the Return on Collaboration (ROC) Index. It establishes a progressive impact of deploying advanced Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) technologies on business performance and measures improvements in areas such as research and development, human resources, sales, marketing, investor relations and public relations.

Advanced Collaborators Harness Competitive Advantage
The study also identified emerging business technology adoption trends and attitudes across the globe. Key findings from the study include:
  • Businesses and government agencies deploying increasingly more sophisticated collaboration tools -- such as VoIP soft phones, immersive video and fixed mobile convergence -- saw a corresponding improvement in business results relative to the amount invested.
  • The overall average ROC score was 4.2 -- meaning organizations received an average return of four times their investment in deploying collaboration technologies.
  • The majority of organizations deploying UC&C report they are more successful than their peers compared to those not deploying UC&C (70 percent versus 47 percent).
  • Of organizations deploying UC&C, 40 percent plan to increase spending.
  • VoIP is leading the way for delivery of advanced communications and collaboration applications.
Why Corporate Culture is a Defining Factor
If you're thinking that simply deploying online collaboration tools will deliver results similar to the leaders -- then think again. Your work environment is truly instrumental to success.

How do the Advanced Collaborators attain an ROC score of 6.1? These organizations tend to have "open" entrepreneurial corporate cultures where individuals are accessible, and there's regular cooperation between business units.

"Meetings Around the World II confirms and extends the key findings of the original study and builds on those conclusions. This latest research shows adopting progressively more advanced unified communications and collaboration tools can help organizations achieve a corresponding return on collaboration and improvement across all business functions. This return was most dramatic in the areas of sales, marketing and research and development" says Brian Cotton, vice president for Information and Communications Technologies for Frost & Sullivan.

In-the-Cloud Approach to Cyber Security

Security breaches or other unexpected interruptions can happen anytime to anyone -- whether you are a large enterprise or a small business. Fully maintaining communication network security is a demanding responsibility -- and typically not the best use of your limited IT resources, that would be better applied to delivering incremental new business technology benefits to your organization.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to a do-it-yourself comprehensive security solution. Skilled managed service providers continue to enhance their network security offerings.

AT&T announced the availability of Security Event and Threat Analysis and Security Device Management, two new managed security services available for businesses of all sizes.

Customized to Your Unique Business Needs

The services enable you to engage AT&T security professionals selectively and simply to provide customized security support. Services range from security event analysis and threat management analysis to targeted security device management including firewalls, intrusion detection sensors and VPN servers.

These new services use AT&T’s expertise in security analysis to evaluate, correlate, and report on information from multiple devices and device types, both on your premises and embedded in the AT&T network.

AT&T Managed Service Benefits Include:
  • Prioritizing security events based on threat and risk management methodologies using AT&T and customer-defined standards.
  • Rapid notification when security events are detected and identified as critical by the AT&T Security Network Operations Center.
  • Event mitigation and security analyst counseling during critical security incidents.
  • Global Security Operation Centers and 24X7 T1-T4 Analyst Coverage with portal access through AT&T’s BusinessDirect Portal.
With Security Device Management, AT&T provides complete, customizable monitoring and management of your security hardware and software, with a range of services including managing your organization’s current security capabilities up to assessing, designing and implementing a custom security infrastructure.

Full Suite of Professional Services
These new services are a natural complement to AT&T’s existing Security Consulting services, which include independent assessments of vulnerabilities inherent in customers’ networks, as well as the policy and procedures surrounding them. Security Consulting services include Log Management, Security Policy Management, Vulnerability Analysis, Application Security, Trusted Advisor services and Payment Card Industry Solutions.

AT&T delivers a suite of security and business continuity services to help assess vulnerabilities, protect infrastructure, detect attacks, and respond to suspicious activities and events. The upcoming AT&T Cyber Security Conference is an annual day-long conference offered by the AT&T Chief Security Office.

Managed IT Enhances JetBlue Business Model

New York-based JetBlue Airways created an airline focused on value, service and style. They've proven to be a trailblazer in the U.S. airline industry. They're also a communication technology early-adopter. JetBlue introduced complimentary in-flight e-mail and instant messaging services on their aircraft -- a first among U.S. domestic airlines.

However, their core competency is centered upon air travel. They out-task the rest to service providers, wherever possible.

JetBlue signed a new, six-year strategic agreement with Verizon Business to manage the airline's information technology ( IT) data center and communications network needs, as well as provide security and IT consulting services.

Built on an IP Network Foundation
Verizon Business will design and manage the transition of JetBlue's existing systems to a new global IT network infrastructure. The newly built Internet-protocol-based (IP) voice and data network will support state-of-the-art airport kiosks, wireless Internet access and an advanced reservation system.

"JetBlue has built a reputation of consistently providing excellent customer service," said JetBlue CIO Joe Eng. "The agreement with Verizon Business to strengthen our IT capabilities is further proof that we are taking the steps necessary to evolve our business to meet our customers' changing needs. With this enhanced IT infrastructure, JetBlue will be even better positioned for the future."

The new converged voice and data network will help support JetBlue's vision to deliver enhanced customer service and better collaborative tools for its employee crewmembers.

Verizon Business will connect JetBlue crewmembers, customers and partners to each other and the Internet. The infrastructure will serve as the foundation to deliver new customer and collaboration services -- including audio, net and video conferencing and enhanced contact center applications that will enable JetBlue's reservations agents to better serve customers.

Securing and Protecting Critical Data
Verizon Business will also manage the transition of JetBlue's data centers to Verizon's redundant managed service centers. In addition, they will manage the critical infrastructure components of JetBlue's internal systems including its data centers, voice and data networks and internal service desk -- ensuring continuous availability and improved resiliency and reliability.

Through its managed security practice, Verizon Business will help safeguard critical company data as well as ensure JetBlue meets strict industry requirements for secure credit card transactions online, over the phone and at the airport.

JetBlue currently serves 58 cities with 650 daily flights. In 2009, the carrier ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Low-Cost Carriers in North America" by J.D. Power and Associates.

Five Proven Benefits of Cloud Services

How can your company get started with cloud computing? Well, consider following the market leaders. With a few more months of client experience, Forrester Research recently addressed the major questions that executives have about the adoption of cloud services.

The key benefits that most early adopters report do not start with costs -- but rather with business flexibility. According to those that have deployed it, the benefits of cloud computing, in order of importance, are:

1. Improving time-to-application deployment. Cloud platforms give you the option of developing and deploying new applications on existing infrastructure as quickly as desired. Traditional platforms can take up to three or four months to procure, install, and configure, stalling the application deployment process.

2. Aligning IT budgets with application demand. How many Web applications does your organization deploy without exactly knowing how popular they’ll be or how much capacity you’ll need to accommodate that popularity? Many of the early cloud adopters host customer and public-facing Web applications with cloud providers for this reason. They can pay just for the resources they use, hour by hour.

3. Accommodating peaks in demand for data center capacity. Cloud computing is also good for handling episodic spikes in demand for computing, storage, and network resources. Rather than provision for the expected peak of the holiday shopping season, retailers can push the additional demand into a cloud environment. Big batch jobs also fit this model.

4. Delivering applications without raising the budget. Cloud computing gives you the ability to deliver new applications without having to buy systems, avoiding an investment of your firm’s capital in new equipment. Application development and delivery can all be handled using pay-as-you-go operating expenses.

5. Sharing without putting the data center at risk. Many of the early adopters of cloud computing are looking for an inexpensive and easily accessible way to share information. Medical researchers are an example. Cloud services enable these organizations to host data on public clouds, rather than making their internal data center available to external parties.

Three Questions to Ask a Cloud Service Provider
How do you know if a managed cloud service provider is a good-fit for your business? Forrester concludes that you should ask all providers the following three basic questions:
  • What are your enterprise references and what kinds of applications do those organizations run in your cloud?
  • For which application scenarios does your cloud environment deliver the maximum flexibility and scalability?
  • What security and reliability commitments do you make to your customers?

Revelations from Online Collaboration Adopters

Cisco conducted one of the first comprehensive studies of the factors associated with successful adoption of network-based collaboration solutions. You can use the study results to maximize your return on investment from today's online collaboration tools.

One way is to implement business practices shown to lead to more enthusiastic collaboration. Another is to identify and then actively support the employees who are most likely to benefit.

Twenty First Century Collaboration
Collaboration is a process that brings people and information together to accomplish a common goal. What's new today is that in a connected world, people no longer have to be in the same location, time zone, or culture to collaborate.

Tools such as videoconferencing (or TelePresence) and web sharing enable real-time collaboration across distance. Blogs, wikis, and shared workspaces enable online collaboration across time boundaries.

Cisco conducted the first formal segmentation study of collaboration tool users. Their objective was to understand how workers choose to collaborate, which tools they use, and how they believe those tools positively affect productivity, innovation, and cost savings.

Study participant collaboration habits and attitudes placed them into one of four segments: Collaboration Enthusiasts, Comfortable Collaborators, Reluctant Collaborators, and Collaboration Laggards.

Lessons Learned and Best Practices
The results from the Cisco collaboration segmentation study suggest that organizations experience the greatest productivity benefits from collaboration when they:
  • Recognize that personal attitudes and organizational culture regarding collaboration are as important as collaboration tools.
  • Begin by introducing collaboration tools to people and groups meeting the characteristics of Enthusiasts and Comfortable Collaborators. These people tend to be managers or supervisors, have held their job position for 3 to 10 years, and are already using Web 2.0 tools at home.
  • Encourage executives to model the desired collaboration practices.
  • Reward collaboration by including it in performance reviews, offering rewards for successful outcomes, or both.
  • Implement formal collaboration processes. Provide the tools, IT support, and training needed to foster increased collaboration.
The survey studied 800 people in a wide variety of U.S. medium-sized and enterprise organizations who: spend at least 20 percent of time at work using a network-connected computer; use a mobile phone or handheld device; and participated in two collaborative activities within the past month.

Enabling the Early-Adopters to Thrive
The researchers conducted a segmentation analysis, separating individuals into distinct groups based on a large set of attitudinal and behavioral variables. Previous knowledge of collaboration habits did not include the personal or cultural factors that influence success.

Do you proactively nurture a culture of collaboration in your organization? What obstacles did you have to overcome before your employees could fully utilize the latest online productivity tools?

Infrastructure as a Service, in Action

A West Chester, PA-based company was searching for IT help, to more effectively and securely distribute confidential and proprietary content to its customers. Enter Verizon Business, with its managed cloud service offering.

Modevity, LLC will use Verizon Computing as a Service (CaaS), an on-demand, flexible solution that allows businesses to harness cloud computing to better manage IT resources and deliver performance and security that supports their growth.

Better Alignment of Financial and Human Capital
In addition to these benefits, Modevity expects to see a significant positive impact on the company's bottom line as a result of embracing this managed cloud service offering.

"We are focused on continuing to grow Modevity in a smart way by making key resource decisions in terms of capital and staffing expenditures," said Tom J. Canova, co-founder and chief marketing officer for Modevity.

"Moving to a virtual environment with Verizon Business allows us to consolidate our existing server hardware and software, and eliminates future purchasing and licensing costs in that area. It also allows us to add more staff in key areas -- all while maintaining consistent, reliable service to our customers."

Complete IaaS Platform Solution
Verizon Business is providing Modevity with a comprehensive cloud-computing environment, supplying server hardware, bandwidth, load balancing, firewall network security, backup and managed services to support the Modevity ARALOC Content Rights Management hosted solution.

Modevity can now rely on Verizon's out-tasked secure and available Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering. This frees up Modevity to invest in more strategic product development, research and development, and customer support initiatives.

"With Verizon Business as its partner, Modevity can grow its business strategically while relying on us to seamlessly power its customer applications," said James Geary, vice president of Verizon Business SMB sales. "Our world-class CaaS solution will allow Modevity to drive more value from its computing resources while controlling costs."

A key consideration in the selection of Verizon Business was its flexible delivery model and the ability to pay only for resources consumed. As a SaaS (software as a service) provider for content rights management product solutions, Modevity was keen to work with a partner that had a similar approach, as well as provided the flexibility to grow the infrastructure as its user base and global footprint grew.

According to Canova, "To continue to be successful, we have to keep our customer's software fully functional and reliable 24 x 7. Verizon Business understands this, and in fact, Verizon Business delivers CaaS with the exact same approach we use for our customers. We are confident that in Verizon Business we have selected a cloud-computing leader, and that Verizon Business will serve as a true seamless extension of the Modevity team."

The Secret of Business Growth in 2010

Having had their fill of the economic downside, business leaders are truly ready for the eventual upside. Apparently, U.S. companies are preparing for a global economic recovery to begin in the first half of 2010, according to a new "Road to Growth" market study from AT&T.

Key study findings include the following insights:

Business Agility and ROI Pressures
In today's economic climate, U.S. companies have significantly shortened the time frame over which a Return on Investment (ROI) is delivered.

More than half of U.S. IT executives stated they are under pressure to deliver a return on investment in half the time than their previous efforts. As a result, two-thirds cited that the change has affected their IT budgets, strategies and priorities.

The study found that companies are less willing to invest in longer-term projects -- where the return does not come quickly. One CIO stated that IT projects must give at least a 100% ROI in 12 months -- otherwise, the project is terminated.

Shrinking Costs, While Growing the Upside
No surprise, regarding the top-of-mind challenges. Cost cutting and increasing revenue remain the two primary business goals. To achieve those objectives, survive the recession and move towards growth, business technology strategies are focused on:

Reducing operating costs: 87 percent cited "reducing operating costs" as "extremely or very important." Improve collaboration with customers and partners: 85 percent cited "improved collaboration with customers and partners" as "extremely or very important." Enhancing workforce performance and productivity: 83 percent cited "enhancing workforce performance" as "extremely or very important."

Rise of the Any-Term Business Strategy
The study found that U.S. companies employ multiple strategies to address business goals, and do not distinguish between short-term and long-term strategies. It appears that U.S. companies are reducing the time period for their long-term forecasting until after the recession is over.

Moreover, the role IT plays in helping U.S. companies achieve long-term strategies is very similar to the role IT plays in supporting a company's short-term business strategies.

Ongoing Role of Business Technology
IT investments and priorities are very focused in a couple of key areas. The study found that "business continuity and security solutions" will have the biggest positive impact on business growth as U.S. companies prepare for an economic turnaround.

This is closely followed by "enterprise mobility solutions" and "Web delivery solutions." Areas of IT investment that are expected to have a high to moderate impact on businesses are "unified communications services" and "hosted solutions."

For more information, and a copy of the executive summary, visit the AT&T Road to Growth Study on their website.

How to Unlock the Power of Virtualization

Virtualization uses technology to remove the physical barriers associated with computer servers and applications -- enabling the consolidation or replacement of servers, storage, network and other physical devices.

As a result, your business can better use computing capacity and drive more value from IT resources as well as consolidate data centers and significantly lower energy consumption.

For companies who need guidance on a virtualization project, Verizon Business offers these five tips -- culled from the company's years of experience handling complex IT installations and expertise in implementing and managing virtual environments:
  1. Make sure you're looking at the big picture: A business should first complete a thorough assessment of its current IT environment and computing resources, including a full review of all servers. Once the enterprise has a better understanding of its infrastructure, it is easier to determine which computing resources, such as servers and devices, are candidates for consolidation.
  2. Enlist vendor support: After compiling a list of applications that can be virtualized, it is important to confirm there will be very few, if any, issues with vendor support. Some vendors, especially smaller ones, do not support their software on virtualized platforms.
  3. Evaluate licensing costs: When assessing applications for migration, evaluate the licensing costs associated with them. While consolidating multiple servers and devices into a single virtual machine will lower hardware and facility costs, this does not necessarily apply to software licensing costs. Many vendors still charge based on total available power and the number of physical applications. If that's the case, consider working with vendors that embrace more flexible licensing models.
  4. Avoid common bottlenecks: Carefully assess the memory and storage requirements for applications moving to the virtual environment. Memory and storage can severely limit how many virtual machines a host can support. A common scenario is an environment with consolidated storage and a high number of mobile BlackBerry users, requiring large memory and storage needs. Therefore, assessment, management and proper allocation of applications per virtual machine are key.
  5. Security, security, security: Security should be a top priority; it should be built in from the ground up to ensure the new environment comes with the right safeguards. Enterprises also should pay close attention to relevant industry regulations. For instance, businesses that store, handle or process customer payment information must maintain compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a comprehensive set of requirements for enhancing payment account data security. In that case, PCI DSS compliance would be a key requirement for the new virtual environment.
"Virtualization holds huge promise for the enterprise," said Michael Marcellin, vice president of Verizon global managed solutions. "Its ability to increase efficiency and agility while managing costs is unparalleled. With that potential, however, comes complexity concerning deployment and implementation. Our hope is that enterprises will take this promising technology to heart and embrace our suggestions -- based on our more than 10 years experience managing complex IT infrastructures -- on how best to utilize it."

Verizon Business offers a wealth of IT and hosting solutions to help customers meet their most-pressing IT needs in today's dynamic business environment. As we've previously reported on the Business Technology Roundtable, enterprise and small-business executives are actively adopting the selective out-tasking of applications to these managed cloud services.

Why Early-Adopters Embrace the Cloud

Cloud computing is all about new technology, right? Well, perhaps that depends upon your point of view -- as an application developer, or a business decision maker.

Private Cloud development will grow during the coming year, with 48.9% of developers expecting to deploy applications (via their on-site data center), according to a survey of 500 software developers by Evans Data Corp.

Their survey showed that 29.7% are currently working on applications destined for a private cloud environment, while an additional 19.2% expect to enter development within the next 12 months.

Taking Baby Steps with Cloud Computing
"Software developers are finding many reasons to develop software for the cloud, whether for a private cloud or public cloud," said John Andrews, President and CEO of Evans Data. "Not surprising, while developers want to take advantage of the cloud, our research indicates a strong preference for them to favor a cloud related development environment to simply extend their existing technology know-how."

The survey measured the intentions and adoption patterns of developers. This included Public and Private Cloud development -- types of apps moving first to the Cloud, development dynamics and tools for developing in the Cloud, data centers and virtualization, security, regulations, benefits, and inhibitors.

"Private clouds seem to be appealing for the easier methods of deploying and automating software delivery rather than the elasticity, and different pricing, that drove the initial fervor in public clouds," commented Michael Cote, software industry analyst for Redmonk.

Michael Dortch, acting director of research at Focus, said "Frankly, I'm surprised it's only 48 percent of developers, given that software as a service and other cloud-based elements are the only piece of the current software marketplace showing consistent, significant growth."

The survey results expose the trends. Half of the developers using Amazon public cloud services are adopting them experimentally or for prototyping -- rather than for business critical applications.

Three quarters of developers think that data for applications deployed in the cloud should be backed-up outside the public cloud -- either in traditional on-site storage or in a private cloud.

Fearless Early-Adopters Seek an Advantage
"The buying community is setting themselves up for another cloud spending moment once they decide public clouds are okay and move from private clouds," Cote said. "While security and regulatory concerns are very real, companies would do well to spend time asserting how they might skip some of their computing needs over the public clouds and avoid paying twice for everything."

That said, the primary motivation for business decision makers, that are early-adopters of managed cloud services, can be simply put -- strategic competitive advantage. While their peer group ponders the risks versus rewards, they're already vigorously moving forward.

Next-Generation Managed Security Services

Reports of network attacks and stolen data are commonplace. Consumers routinely undergo the stress of fraudulent charges or compromised credit cards. Computer hacker terms like "botnet" are becoming a part of our everyday vocabulary.

As a result, enterprise security and risk professionals find themselves on a never-ending quest to maintain the integrity of their communication networks, according to the latest study by Forrester Research. Fortunately, managed service providers offer solutions to help relieve the burden.

In its latest initiative to help businesses protect their vital assets from cyber threats and other online attacks, Verizon Business is now offering its next-generation managed security services (MSS) platform, complete with new options.

This enhanced platform is designed to safeguard corporate networks by proactively identifying vulnerabilities and prioritizing threats across the extended enterprise -- resulting in better visibility, enhanced security and reduced risk.

Businesses can now identify the threats that could do the most damage, and then respond quickly. The Verizon Business platform is available immediately to customers throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Risk-Based Approach to Network Security
Going beyond first-generation threat and vulnerability strategies to address underlying risk, Verizon’s new platform enables the management of multiple security platforms, changing business requirements and increased security compliance requirements.

It also enables enterprises that lack in-house security expertise and have limited resources to effectively secure their networks while obtaining a consistent quality of service at an affordable, predictable cost.

"The Verizon Business risk-based approach to network security gives enterprise customers a better understanding of the threats to their businesses so they can plan accordingly," said Amy DeCarlo, principal analyst - Managed IT Services at Current Analysis. "This pragmatic approach, coupled with the global availability of this service platform, makes this a compelling managed security offering for the enterprise."

Benefits of Flexible Service Levels
Verizon customers can choose from one of the following three new service tiers to address individual requirements -- including providing effective security solutions across multiple networks in different parts of the world, each with country-specific requirements.
  • Basic Monitoring: Allows customers to outsource only the monitoring of security devices to while leveraging in-house staffing and retaining management control.
  • Premium Monitoring: Provides continuous monitoring of security devices with analytical support. Security logs and alerts generated by security devices are analyzed and interpreted by security analysts located in one of the company's global security operations centers.
  • Premium Monitoring and Management: Incorporates the Premium Monitoring service, and also proactive management of all devices. This includes installing security patches, managing security policies and restoring devices.

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.

Increased Productivity Due to Telecommuting

In the global networked economy, work is performed everywhere, at any time and any place. That said, what are the operational benefits? Cisco set out to evaluate the social, economic and environmental impacts associated with allowing and actively enabling employees to telecommute.

Cisco announced the findings of its Teleworker Survey, an in-depth study of almost 2,000 company employees. The study, conducted to evaluate the social, economic and environmental impacts associated with telecommuting at Cisco, revealed that a majority of respondents experienced a significant increase in work-life flexibility, productivity and overall satisfaction as a result of their ability to work remotely.

Create a Sound Telecommuting Strategy
As the modern workforce continues to evolve and globalize, more companies are evaluating a telecommuting strategy to save costs and lower carbon emissions as well as to retain top talent.

For these companies, Cisco's survey highlights the gains that a sound telecommuting strategy provides for employees and employers alike.

Cisco is achieving new levels of efficiency and effectiveness by enabling people to work together no matter where they are located. In fact, according to Cisco's Internet Business Services Group, the company's global strategic consulting arm, the company has generated an estimated annual savings of $277 million in productivity by allowing employees to telecommute and telework.

Examples of Connectivity Solution Adoption
In addition, with the steady adoption of enterprise-class remote connectivity solutions like Cisco Virtual Office, the recently announced Cisco OfficeExtend, and virtual collaboration tools like Cisco WebEx, Cisco anticipates that employees and employers will continue to see a rise in the benefits associated with telecommuting.

Highlights from the study include the following:
  • Approximately 69 percent of the employees surveyed cited higher productivity when working remote, and 75 percent of those surveyed said the timeliness of their work improved.
  • By telecommuting, 83 percent of employees said their ability to communicate and collaborate with co-workers was the same as, if not better than, it was when working on-site.
  • 67 percent of survey respondents said their overall work quality improved when telecommuting.
  • An improved quality of life through telecommuting was cited by 80 percent of survey respondents.
  • Telecommuting can also lead to a higher employee retention rate, as more than 91 percent of respondents say telecommuting is somewhat or very important to their overall satisfaction.
How can your business benefit from these key insights? Bring your people and information together to reduce decision times and accelerate innovation. Develop a strategy to enable open, secure, adaptable enterprise collaboration that improves your company's creativity and velocity.

Global Multi-tenant Service Provider Clouds

Multinational companies typically have more complex computing and networking technical support requirements, because their business technology applications can span over numerous locations with very diverse operations.

Business and IT leaders are currently exploring managed cloud service options, and they're comparing all new offerings from qualified service providers with international expertise.

BT, the UK-based provider of communications services, revealed that it will be launching a Virtual Data Centre (VDC) service in the coming months, supporting the needs large business and public sector organizations.

VDC provides a dynamic and virtualized infrastructure platform that enables their customers to consume IT and networking Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) -- it essentially forms the base for future cloud services.

BT says that VDC delivers the benefits of enterprise-class cloud computing to customers at a significant saving -- when compared with a standard hosted infrastructure deployment.

Appeal of Infrastructure as a Service
"Any Infrastructure as a Service offering that can provide a platform where organizations can scale their computing, network, and storage requirements in real-time, according to their needs, will have obvious appeal." said Roy Illsley, Senior Research Analyst at research company Butler Group.

Customers will be able to purchase virtualized components and access them over a pre-provisioned infrastructure. Virtual server, storage, security and networking capabilities will be available, automated and orchestrated through an online portal.

"BT is one of the very first movers in Europe with its Infrastructure as a Service offer and the only global provider that will be deploying this service across a vast network of data centers both in the UK and Europe," said Dustin Kehoe, Principal Analyst, Current Analysis.

"Other differentiators for BT include a strong central platform allowing customers to provision services on the fly and a solid professional services organization to support customers with higher end requirements."

Apparently, BT VDC is just one of a number of new offerings that will be announced by BT Global Services this year, focused on helping business customers achieve a competitive edge.

Demand for Cloud Internetworking
There's an emerging term used to describe hybrid scenarios -- when enterprise applications can seamlessly move between their internal and external clouds, leveraging the elasticity and multi-tenancy that a cloud infrastructure offers.

We'll be hearing more about the notion of a Virtual Private Inter-Cloud.

What's the primary benefit for your business? Cost reduction -- with a "pay as you grow" IT service. You eliminate capital investment and significantly reduce operational expenditure, while still maintaining secure control of your data.

IT Power Users Will Lead the Way

Have you ever wondered if your company's utilization of Business Technology is in line with the creative market leaders? The Harvard Business Review recently published an interesting commentary by Susan Cramm entitled "How to Support Your IT Innovators."

Ms. Cramm believes that to realize the full potential from business technology, all enterprises need IT-smart business leaders -- up, down, and across the organization.

According to the results of her ongoing survey, however, business leaders apparently don't feel very smart about their IT adoption and application practices.
  • Only 11% personally use and fully leverage the capabilities of the technology currently in place.
  • 50% agree with the statement that "business leaders don't understand how to use their systems and technologies."
  • And, only 25% of business leaders consider themselves "IT-smart."
Liberate the Business Technology Innovators
One person she interviewed said "business groups that have somebody on their team who is an IT expert do much better -- in terms of leveraging technology to meet their needs -- than those who do not." While that may not be profound, it's a noteworthy comment.

Tech-savvy business users perform a valuable function for their less-informed peer group. They are able to determine what is truly possible, with current technology. Why? It's because power-users sometimes have better productivity enhancing tools in their home-based office than they do at their place of work.

How can this be possible? Well, IT managers focused on total control of all physical infrastructure are consumed by operational tasks and remedial user support activity. They have little or no time available to research, test and adopt the best-fit productivity tools for their business user needs.

Don’t Assume, Follow the Informed User
Moreover, there's often a major disconnect between what business users say they need, and what their IT team assumes they would apply. Most organizations use only 64 percent of their enterprise systems core functions, according to a recent Accenture survey.

"About half said they don't need all the capabilities, while a fifth explained that they didn't make use of all the functionality due to lack of time to learn how to apply them," said Accenture.

In summary, Ms. Cramm says that you should identify your lead users, give them more of what they really need, free up your IT team's time to study what they are doing (and why), and then decide how to standardize and scale the most promising innovations to benefit the whole enterprise.

Demand for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service

Some market studies continue to identify confusion regarding the true meaning of cloud-based services, and the apparent benefits derived by the early-adopters. One recent example comes from a survey of financial professionals in the UK.

However, there is already growing demand from informed executive business and IT decision makers that are eager to move forward with various forms of cloud service deployments.

In fact, Forrester Research has embarked on a new "Cloud and Virtualization Survey Data" series that offers key insights on where the market demand is developing, and they also debunk several stereotypes.

According to Forrester's assessment, Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings, one of the three types of cloud services, is an area of cloud computing that currently receives the most market attention. It centers on two forms of capability: 1) pay-per-use hosting of virtual servers at an external cloud service provider, and 2) operating an internal cloud, where your IT department offers virtual servers-as-a-service.

Enterprise Will Lead the Momentum
Forrester reviewed their latest survey data and uncovered the following indicators of likely buyer interest in, and adoption of, these two forms of IaaS:
  • About 25% of all enterprises plan to adopt IaaS via an external service provider.
  • Firms are slightly less interested in internal clouds than they are in external IaaS.
  • Large business respondents report more awareness, interest, and adoption of external IaaS than small business -- they also report the same for internal clouds.
Forrester defines the three layers of the cloud services stack as follows:

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) - End user applications, delivered as a service rather than as on-premise software.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) - Application platform or middleware-as-a-service on which developers can build and operate custom applications.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) - Compute-, storage-, or other IT infrastructure-as-a-service, rather than as dedicated capability.

Once again, pay-per-use hosting of virtual servers and internal cloud are part of infrastructure-as-a-service.

Cloud Service Adoption Drivers
Forrester reached an interesting conclusion from their market assessment -- that's contrary to conventional wisdom regarding the initial demand for cloud services. Enterprises are leading the adoption, not small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). Moreover, they have different technology preferences and comfort levels with virtualization.

Forrester also believes that early adopters of IaaS service offerings are driven by the instant provisioning of servers and the pay-per-use pricing model. Furthermore, the enterprise IT operations buyers, unlike developer buyers, may want to integrate their on-premise infrastructure with anything they deploy to a service provider, either temporarily or permanently.

Verizon Cloud-Based Computing as a Service

Verizon Business introduced an on-demand, cloud-based Computing as a Service (CaaS) solution -- designed to meet the stringent security and performance requirements of their enterprise customers.

This new offering helps businesses take advantage of cloud (IP-based) computing to more efficiently and securely manage IT computing resources -- server, network and storage -- to meet day-to-day business demands.

This CaaS solution, which leverages Verizon's global IP infrastructure and data centers, enables companies to use a Web-based portal to employ computing resources in the quantities and duration dictated by their own business needs.

As a result, businesses pay for the resources used and avoid having to build out for peak capacity requirements by buying new equipment and adding IT or networking staff.

Designed for mid-to-large-sized businesses, CaaS is ideal for new development projects, major events and migrations so that organization can easily and quickly shift IT resources as required.

Just-in-Time Computing Resources
It is also well suited for businesses with seasonal demands such as retailers, companies holding annual benefit enrollments or sales promotions that drive incremental traffic to Web sites. The service is immediately available in the U.S. and Europe, and then will be introduced to the Asia-Pacific region in August.

Verizon's Mike Marcellin explains in a video commentary some of the key features and benefits.

Melanie Posey, research director, hosting & telecom services at IDC said "Verizon has incorporated a number of key elements that make this solution a stand-out in the marketplace. The CaaS combination of flexibility, security, performance and resiliency is well positioned to serve certain enterprise requirements in a nimble, next-generation fashion."

Clearly, we can anticipate that the forward-looking managed and hosted service providers will continue to launch innovative new managed cloud service offerings that meet the selective IT out-tasking needs of their customers.

Public, Hosted, and Internal Clouds Defined

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.