Appreciating the Complexities of Cloud Computing

Michael Vizard
Slide Show

Make the Financial Case for Virtualization and Cloud Computing

A lot of IT organizations have come to recognize that virtualization by itself makes IT more complex to manage so it should come as no surprise that cloud computing often winds up exacerbating an already complex IT management scenario. After all, managing hundreds of virtual servers on premise is hard enough; now try managing them across multiple private and public cloud computing scenarios.

Unfortunately, too many IT organizations are rushing to embrace cloud computing without putting much thought into governance. The most likely outcome of such tactical approaches to cloud computing is going to be a period of disenchantment that will begin once IT organizations realize that all they have really accomplished is the creation of yet another silo of computing platforms that is even more difficult to manage.

Instead of blindly embracing cloud computing, Derick Townsend, vice president of product marketing for ServiceMesh, a provider of IT management tools specifically designed for IT services that span both public and private cloud computing scenarios, says that as IT organizations move from cloud computing theory to practice they need to think through as many policy issues as possible beforehand. Otherwise, says Townsend, the odds are high they are going to wind up with another stack of servers that didn't really change the economics of IT.

That doesn't mean that IT organizations shouldn't move forward with cloud computing. But it does mean that they need to keep the end goal in mind. In fact, the cost of managing cloud computing deployments may even increase the total cost of IT at least through the early transition phase. Most IT organizations, notes Townsend, are taking a long-term view of cloud computing, which means they are actually creating separate teams to manage cloud computing deployments that operate in parallel with their existing systems. Over time, the goal is to increase the size of the cloud computing deployments while gradually reducing dependency on legacy systems.


The important thing to remember is that this is not an event but rather the beginning of a journey. The end goal of that journey should be the creation of a more agile IT organization that costs less to operate. But it may take years for some organizations to achieve.

In the meantime, Townsend says that IT organizations would be well advised to think through how the IT staff will be provided with incentives to accelerate that transition process. It's no secret that cloud computing is going to either reduce or eliminate the need for certain types of IT administrators. At the same time, cloud computing also creates new job opportunities. The issue facing IT managers is how to get their IT staffs motivated enough to accelerate the transition to cloud computing by putting enough training and financial incentives in place. Otherwise, resistance to cloud computing among the IT staff is only going to mount.

There's no avoiding the complexities associated with making the shift to cloud computing. The word "strategic" is often overused. But the fact remains that without a real cloud computing strategy that is anchored around the delivery of IT services governed by sound policies, a huge percentage of cloud computing projects will either disappoint or outright fail. The difference between success and failure in the cloud ultimately will then come down to the degree those services can first be automated and then consistently delivered. But at the end of the day, that's going to be a more complex undertaking than setting up a simple self-service portal through which end users can register requests for IT service.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 7, 2012 6:35 PM Simon Jones Simon Jones  says:

Many companies think that cloud solutions work out of the box and put not thought into integrating them properly into the existing IT ecosystem, which can create a lot of confusion for their employees because they are unsure of what and when to use these solutions, and how to do so.


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