The New Enterprise Cloud: Who’s in Charge Here?

    The enterprise faces a double-edge sword when it comes to VDI, the cloud and other network-based architectures. On the one hand, the flexibility and efficiency gains of these new data environments are too good to pass up. At the same time, however, they come with a raft of new management and administrative challenges to ensure data and applications remain available and fully functional.

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    A recent survey from network management firm Endace paints a pretty grim picture of what most enterprises are contending with right now, let alone in the coming years, as reliance continues to shift away from traditional data center infrastructure for both critical and non-critical applications. The company reports that nearly a quarter of organizations experience service-affecting network issues every day, with serious issues cropping up at least once a month. This comes at a time when large majorities of enterprises are quickly adopting vital network-based operations like VDI and unified computing.

    To be sure, there are a number of platforms designed to bring greater order and manageability to disparate infrastructure. Savvis recently introduced the new Symphony Cloud Storage system, which aims to provide limitless, highly dispersed capacity without sacrificing reliability and data protection. The system features a global namespace system that enables widespread replication without the need to track the location of each piece of data. At the same time, it provides for penalty-backed SLAs and access-from-anywhere flexibility, providing forward compatibility with leading laptop, tablet and smartphone platforms.

    That need to incorporate a widening variety of endpoints into dynamic data environments is quickly emerging as one of the crucial “next steps” in the development of the cloud and other network-centric architectures. This week sees the release of Symantec’s Endpoint Protection (SEP) 12.1 software designed to integrate both physical and virtual desktop management into VMware’s vShield environment, providing a single management interface for multiple user devices. The system moves antivirus, malware protection and other tools to a dedicated virtual appliance, improving both deployment and monitoring of VDI instances. It also contains improved behavioral analysis tools to guard against unauthorized access to organizational data.

    Increasingly, though, IT will be tasked with ensuring greater reliability and performance for infrastructure that is largely beyond its control. As data collaboration specialist Capgemini found out in a recent survey, nearly half of enterprises say individual business units, not IT, are primarily responsible for the growing reliance on the cloud, with more than a third saying they are already running into issues like data sovereignty and ownership as cloud environments become more diverse. Many firms are responding to this by dictating what applications and services are acceptable for the cloud, although this runs the risk of diminishing productivity and casting senior management in the role of “cloud blocker” rather than “cloud driver.”

    Few things that are worthwhile are easy, however. The cloud represents such a fundamental shift in data infrastructure that it is only natural that the transition experiences a fair number of growing pains.

    For top enterprise managers, the need to balance user flexibility with the care and protection of corporate data will be a top priority going forward. And in that effort, ongoing communication between all stakeholders should prove invaluable.

    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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