Enterprises of all sizes and across virtually every industry are evaluating cloud computing initiatives for various reasons.
Some need to take advantage of the ability to classify the expense on the balance sheet as a capital expenditure (or one that will obtain future benefits and can be paid for by external stakeholders) versus an operating expenditure (or a current operating expense that is deducted from a company's revenues), and others are looking at streamlining support and maintenance requirements of their IT services.
From a CEO's perspective, cloud computing can reduce the time for "go to market" and reduce capital expenditures.
To a CIO, it can provide:
While cloud computing has been presented by some as a panacea, there are certain aspects of this technology deployment model that are both difficult and confusing to many CIOs.
A few questions that we hear frequently from CIOs include:
Public clouds can generally provide an easy, economical and scalable platform, but many organizations still have reservations with this approach due to issues with accountability, SLAs and compliance. Public cloud SLAs and contracts are often vague, data is turned over to, and controlled solely by, the provider, and it is hard to switch providers once data has been set up in a public cloud. In addition, there is always a risk that data can be lost if it is not properly backed up during the migration of the data from organization to provider.
As a result, many organizations are now seriously evaluating an alternate delivery model, private clouds, which allow for more control, and the ability to enforce accountability. Private clouds are rapidly becoming the basis for how cloud computing will be addressed by SMBs and large enterprises. Therefore, many providers are bringing private solutions to the market today.
What organizations are looking for from a private cloud implementation is participation by different internal departments that can subscribe and participate in its usage.
Today, the discrete hardware and software infrastructure, convergence, virtualization, service-oriented architectures and extensions, automated provisioning, and unified service delivery have all made cloud architectures technically and operationally feasible and very attractive to business.
This setup helps bring unified service delivery, network, computing, storage access and virtualization resources into a cohesive system and allows service providers to quickly deploy a technology foundation for creating and delivering IaaS services. This foundation not only helps bring IaaS cloud computing services to deliver results quickly, but more importantly, serves as a foundation for other services or for new services that emerge as the cloud computing market evolves.
Here are a few critical points to consider before adopting a private cloud:
The ideal solution to these challenges is to adopt an "On-Demand" model for cloud monitoring and management, which gives the users the option to choose services from a service catalog or to initiate cloud services on a pay-per-use (PPU) plan.
Usually there are two approaches to building a private cloud:
No matter what approach companies take, the most important question is the aspect of service governance and IT service management in the cloud. Is ITIL still relevant in this new model? If so, what shape and form must it take? Broadly speaking, ITIL processes (like incident management, change management, problem management, release and deployment etc. ...) work the same way in a cloud environment as they work in a non-cloud environment. The processes affected by a cloud environment are financial management, service catalog management, service level management, event management and configuration management.
However, decision makers must remember that there is always an alternative to private cloud creation. One is the use of reference architecture. Reference architecture (think "cloud builder's guide") is a process in which corporations look at their current architecture and what its future needs will be by taking into account specific technologies, patterns, business models and market segments.
Whether a corporation chooses to partner with a provider to create a private cloud, public cloud or reference architecture, it should closely monitor and align SLAs and key performance indicators (KPIs) to business goals to ensure the investment will yield future financial benefits for the business.