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Making sense of the major cloud inhibitors

February 13, 2014 • Cloud Computing, Opinion, Southern Africa

Mark Ridley, regional director for Africa, NetApp. (Image source: NetApp)

Mark Ridley, regional director for Africa, NetApp. (Image source: NetApp)

It is easy to see why there is so much interest among companies to learn more about how they can benefit from cloud.

The advent of cloud brings great promise for IT organisations to meet increasingly demanding business and operational objectives.  A cloud-based IT delivery model can speed up application development and provide flexible environments to accommodate the dynamic and unpredictable needs of the organisation and its customers.

As cloud services continue to evolve and become increasingly vital for success, it’s critical to understand the inhibitors that are leaving many unsure about how to jump into the cloud, including:  managing complexity, creating or preserving IT agility, and maintaining control of valuable business data.

Complexity

Dealing with complexity is often a significant inhibitor for businesses that are considering incorporating public cloud into their IT environment.  Companies often struggle with the idea of ‘How do I get started?’ Choosing from the variety of services offering different service levels, different virtualisation and compute platforms, and different data management frameworks can be a daunting task for any CIO’s team.  In addition, many organisations are perplexed with how to manage elements of IT across a blend of private and public cloud resources, particularly the intricacies of managing data across disparate locations and platforms in a hybrid environment.

Developing a clear strategy, identifying which workloads can be moved off-premises and setting concrete performance requirements is a great way to begin identifying services and providers that can assist in this transition.  It is also important for organisations to feel comfortable that once they take the leap, they have options to fine-tune and adjust.

IT Agility

IT agility means having the capability to fine-tune architecture and solutions over time in a dynamic environment.   Although choosing a cloud service provider to complement a set of IT services is indeed a means to deliver a flexible and dynamic environment, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is ongoing flexibility among the cloud providers.  Many organisations perceive cloud provider lock-in a significant hurdle to adopting a public cloud model – and without the right set of tools – it is.  The ability to choose best-of-breed solutions has been a cornerstone of agility in the datacenter, and so it will be for the cloud.

What CIOs and their teams really want is the ability to choose among cloud services, knowing that, for whatever reason – change in business needs, policies, governance, location, etc they can make adjustments with minimal pain and impact to the business.

Data Control

For years, large organisations have built their own virtualised data centers and private clouds as a means to ensure control of not only their IT environment, but perhaps more importantly, control of their data.

As the popularity of the clouds grows, IT organisations are drawn to exploring public cloud options.  More than ever before, mandates from the C-level are being issued to “go figure out how to use the cloud,” whether it be from a regional cloud service provider or a hyperscale provider such as Amazon Web Services.  The IT organisation is now faced with bringing public cloud into the mix, often managing across both private and public cloud services, without dismantling the data control they’ve worked so hard to achieve.

As CIOs and their teams continue to evolve toward being brokers of services that span cloud resources, and as more diverse and demanding workloads move to the cloud, the role of IT will become increasingly vital to maintaining the level of control and efficiency across a hybrid cloud environment.

IDC recently reported that spending on cloud computing is expected to triple in the next five years. While there remains an inhibition by some enterprises to fully embrace the cloud, ultimately, it is going to be part of the future of computing and IT infrastructure.   Understanding the risks and developing a clear strategy for dealing with complexity, agility and data control will ensure a successful transition to the cloud.

Mark Ridley, regional director for Africa, NetApp

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