Although cheap and simple, compared to traditional IT solutions, was the clarion call heralding the early adoption of the cloud, many enterprises now struggle with the transitional costs and complexities of the cloud becoming the new IT delivery model.
Originally the only cloud was what we now call the public cloud, a shared computing environment hosted entirely by a cloud service provider that manages and maintains the infrastructure. This allowed for quick scalability and lower costs, offering compute and storage on demand, paying only for the capacity used. Startups and innovative vendors also used this as a platform to provide software as a service (SaaS) solutions that business users directly purchased for tactical projects while IT was busy supporting ongoing business operations. This enabled the business to cost-effectively accomplish short-term goals.
As it gained popularity with consumers, the cloud started covering more projects and applications. Vendors also started using the cloud to provide platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Mobility also triggered the need for more functionality to be delivered via the cloud. However, protecting intellectual property and sensitive data, as well as complying with government regulations lead to the realization the internal IT function needed to retain control of some cloud environments. This precipitated what we now call the private cloud, where the infrastructure is dedicated to a single enterprise, either hosted by a cloud service provider or owned and managed on-premises by an enterprise behind their own firewall. The latter allows for the utmost security and control, but also requires the most in-house maintenance.
With business value in both, cloud computing became more than a simple choice between public and private clouds, giving rise to what we now call the hybrid cloud. This allows an enterprise to configure and manage multiple cloud environments—public or private, hosted or on-premises—as a single resource pool using a converged infrastructure. This allows some enterprise data and applications (e.g., time tracking) to be managed on a public cloud, while sensitive data and business-critical applications (e.g., payroll) are managed on a private cloud—or within a non-cloud environment. Hybrid is the future, but a true hybrid delivery model is an optimal mix of not only public and private clouds, but traditional IT solutions as well. Misperceived as a revolution, the cloud-empowered evolution of IT has many enterprises caught in a transitional quagmire of rising costs and complexities.
Here are a few recommendations for lowering the cost and complexity of the cloud:
- Standardize on a single set of IT management tools that works across both traditional IT and cloud environments in order to simplify day-to-day IT operations.
- Choose an open, extensible architecture to support multivendor hardware, evolving industry standards, open APIs, and easy integration with third-party products, enabling service flexibility and portability.
- Regularly review service level agreements with external providers and take advantage of competitive pricing models.
- Reduce manual effort by using automation for allocating, provisioning, configuring, and monitoring IT resources.
- Deploy standardized cloud environments to make it easier to move workloads across platforms.