The “cloud” metaphor has been getting significant attention in recent years, although the concept of a computing utility has been around since the 60s, and was commercialized in the 70s and 80s in the form of timesharing, reappearing as “cloud” near the turn of the 21st century. We now have companies offering software as a service, (SaaS), PaaS (platform as a service) and IaaS (infrastructure as a service). The major differentiator between the modern cloud models and those of the past is the Internet, the ability to rapidly subscribe/unsubscribe to services, the automated fashion in which services can be provisioned/deprovisioned, and the massive amounts of relatively inexpensive computing power available.
Growing demand for public cloud services is driving continued investment and capacity from the leading cloud capacity providers, which is getting good coverage in the press. HP has recently entered this space with its HP Cloud. It is no surprise that all the major public cloud providers take American Express – they know who their customers are. Individuals within large corporations, who are not able to get compute capacity they need from internal IT departments (or get it in a timely manner), are large users of cloud, and are purchasing capacity with their corporate credit card, creating “shadow IT,” a topic of much heated conversation.
What is the response of the internal corporate IT Managers? Historically they have had a tough job, and financial austerity makes it tougher still. They are often viewed as a cost center, and are under increased financial scrutiny and pressure to reduce costs. As a whole, they have done well in reducing the cost footprint of IT year over year, but often their budgets are cut to the point where they have little beyond the very basics to serve the business needs of their customers, both in terms of services and overall responsiveness. IT Managers wish to retain control of IT activities within the enterprise, but their internal customers (webmasters, developers, HR and Sales departments, scientists, and others) have already turned to the instant gratification of the public cloud in its various iterations, receiving in very short order capacity and services that would otherwise have taken weeks, months, or even years, in the case of business applications like CRM, to receive from their internal IT department.
So here we have a dilemma, and the relevance of the IT department is under question. Will IT executives be able to compete with the services available in the public cloud? Can they move from the model of controlling and providing all compute capacity in-house, to a model where they are rapidly delivering cloud services to their internal clients? HP’s point of view on cloud is that today’s IT executives can and must be able to match the services delivered by the public cloud, and also become the broker of IT services that they cannot deliver in-house.
When the cloud discussion comes up, my large enterprise clients (where cloud adoption is lower as compared to small/medium sized firms) have various objections to adopting cloud. “I have an ERP system in place today that keeps the business running and is doing its job.” “We are in a regulated industry where we must be extremely careful with client data, and it has to remain within the walls of our data center.” “How can we trust the reliability of a Cloud provider vs. the reliability we are able to provide in house?” “We ran the analysis, and cloud won’t save money, because our costs as a percentage of revenue are very low.” Valid points, but given the large scale adoption of public cloud services by business users going around their own IT departments, there are clearly needs not being filled, and revenues leaving the enterprise that could be kept in-house.
If you’re an IT executive just starting to get your hands around cloud, meet with your business users and have an open discussion around about what cloud-based services are already being consumed within the enterprise, so you can understand what they need and the service levels required. In large enterprises, you will find active cloud users wherever there are IT developers (who want dev/test environments), marketing departments (who build web sites for short term marketing campaigns), scientists (who use short term compute capacity for analysis), and in functional departments including HR or Sales, where Software as a Service is used.
Next, determine which services you can provide at equal or better overall value, either internally through private cloud, or through an arrangement with an outside cloud provider. Yes, there will be a period of time while you get your private cloud and/or agreements in place with outside cloud providers, but once those are in place, you will have regained control of IT services within the enterprise and repositioned yourself as a trusted IT advisor and provider to your internal customers. And you will better be able to ensure that all IT computing complies with company IT policies. A much better place.
Worth noting, HP has announced two new offerings to assist our clients in their journey to cloud. The first we are calling HP Cloud Planning Services, which can include one or all of the following activities: 1) HP Converged Cloud Workshop, 2) HP Cloud Future Definition Service, 3) HP Cloud Gap Analysis Service, and 4) HP Cloud Business Case Service. HP cloud deployment experts in all cases facilitate discussions with you and also your business customers, to help you craft a cloud strategy in line with your customer’s current and future needs.
The second offering, called HP Datacenter Care Services, brings HP’s 600+ CloudSystem deployments to bear, and helps you both deploy and support cloud based solutions in your data center. The offering also assists clients in moving from a blade-based to a cloud-based data center infrastructure where it makes sense for the business.
More information can be found here:
A fact sheet about Cloud Planning Services
Info about HP Converged Cloud