Finding the Right Cloud for the Right Environment

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Choosing Your First Cloud Application Initiative

Questions you should ask to help determine which cloud application path you should pursue.

By nature, IT techs are a logical bunch. You have to be if you're going to surround yourself with computers all day. And yet, that doesn't make the industry immune to emotional flights of fancy, particularly when it comes to technology.

In many ways, the cloud is an example of IT emotions run amok. Even while it represents state-of-the-art IT technology, it also propels many enterprises to make unwise deployment decisions as pressure mounts to stay current, often fueled by hefty vendor marketing and advertising budgets.

Ultimately, however, the decision to deploy or not deploy resources on the cloud is a logical one requiring careful assessment of costs, benefits and if-then calculations.

For most organizations, the first decision point will be whether to provision a cloud storage solution or a traditional in-house platform. According to PC Quest's Sufyan bin Uzayr, cloud storage beats local when it comes to cost, flexibility and simplicity, but falls short in terms of privacy and reliability. In the end, the local storage platform that has been serving your needs for so long should continue to be adequate for your standard application lineup. However, if you plan to adopt new services that require a high degree of collaboration and data portability, you'll want the cloud.

Before you pull the trigger, however, make sure you are comfortable with the sea change the cloud represents, says croplife.com's Joe Dysart. Once you become dependent on infrastructure that's not your own, you give up your ability to guide system and software deployment. Sure, you can take your business elsewhere if, say, a favored app suddenly is no longer available, but that might not be as easy as it sounds.

To arrive at the right answer, of course, you need to ask the right questions, says Falconstor's Christopher Poelker. For instance, do you have a lot of custom applications that require specialized knowledge and support? Do you plan on full outsourcing or a hybrid environment? Do you have enough external bandwidth to support expected data and application loads? And do you expect to gain or lose functions like security, data protection and recoverability on the cloud? Overall, however, the key factor should be whether the cloud improves or diminishes service levels and costs.

The problem in all this is that many of these questions can't be fully answered until you are already on the cloud. Not all clouds are the same, and success or failure could rest on deployment strategies, system integration and other factors. To help enterprises find the quickest and easiest way to the cloud, DynamicOps will host a webcast later this month devoted to finding the most value in private and hybrid cloud environments. The company specializes in automation and management solutions, so it's likely there will be a sales pitch in there somewhere. However, Forrester's James Staten is slated to provide a number of best practices designed to make the cloud simple, low-cost and effective.

Like previous IT advancements, the cloud is not likely to be a one-size-fits-all proposition. Certain applications and environments will thrive in the cloud while others will remain comfortably ensconced in traditional infrastructure. Still others will require a little of both. The trick will be in determining which is which, and then finding the right mix of technologies to maintain the highest level of support.

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