The Long March Toward a Unified Hybrid Cloud

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

Private Versus Public Cloud Computing

A plethora of applications are being considered for the cloud, but it may take at least another year before cloud computing goes mainstream in the enterprise.

With the formal launch of Microsoft Office 365 today there is obviously a lot of speculation about how productivity applications and any future associated unified communications offerings might evolve together in the cloud.

While there's obviously a lot of interest in these new online Microsoft platforms and rival offerings from Google, the question a lot of IT organizations have is whether these platforms will ultimately fly in the enterprise.

A recent survey of over 100 IT executives in the U.S. conducted by Osterman Research on behalf of Azaleos, a provider of managed services, suggests that IT organizations are generally wary of public clouds when it comes to mission-critical applications in the enterprise. The survey finds that while IT organizations like the idea of cloud computing, they would much rather deploy some form of private cloud than rely on public cloud computing services because of security and availability concerns.

Scott Gode, Azaleos vice president of product management and marketing, notes that another big issue that businesses have with any public cloud computing platform is the fact that it's difficult to customize these platforms. Many businesses, notes Gode, have come to see productivity applications, email and unified communications as critical business process management tools that, over the years, have been tailored to meet their specific requirements.

Specifically, the Osterman survey found that only 10 percent of the respondents said they planned to use public cloud computing platforms for unified communications. That doesn't mean that there isn't a need to integrate with these public cloud computing services. Azaleos, for example, today announced the ability to integrate a private cloud unified communications environment with Microsoft Office 365. But it does imply that despite some high-profile early adopters, any move to the public cloud is going to be an extended process for most companies.

Obviously, unified communications both on and off the cloud is still evolving. As such, IT organizations in general don't appear ready to make a major commitment to one platform or another. But as unified communications continues to evolve alongside cloud computing, it seems certain that some form of hybrid cloud computing environment that combines private clouds with public cloud computing services is most certainly going to emerge as the future dominant deployment model, which explains Microsoft's recent acquisition of Skype.

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