Cloud Considerations–A Need for Clarity

Filed in Cloud Industry Insights by Ben Kepes | November 22, 2011 8:24 am

As I travel around talking to organizations and the decision makers within them about Cloud Computing[1], I find myself enumerating a list of benefits that many of us believe come with Cloud Computing. The list includes scalability, economic benefits, the ability to focus on core business, etc.

I must have watched hundreds of presentations over the last few years focused on the benefits Cloud brings to an organization and they all have the same bullet-pointed list. It’s like rote learned mantra washing over attendees.

It’s started to strike me however that this ling list doesn’t do much to answer the questions of those looking to make a move to the Cloud. For them there is one simple question; “How the hell do I start?” With so many vendors selling so many products it’s difficult to know. The options are numerous;

•  Do we go simple and just use some Cloud infrastructure for some test/dev projects?
•  We’ve got some hardware due to be end-of-lifed, do we replace it with the Cloud?
• We have a bunch of email accounts service on-premise; do we make a move to Google apps perhaps?
• Our systems are tied together by a lot of sticking plasters; do we look for a Cloud suite to simplify our systems?

It’s made all the more difficult by dual traits that seem to be occurring in our industry. On the one hand are traditional vendors who spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) to increase the concerns organizations have about moving to the Clouds. They decry Cloud as risky, minimize the benefits and call it immature. On the other hand are the zealots who would tell you that an immediate and total move to the Clouds risks organizations being left behind and putting their very existence at risk.

The reality is (of course) different than what either of these parties would lead you to believe. Yes Cloud is an important industry trend and will grow in terms of adoption over the next few years to become, within only a few years, the default way of delivering technology. But there will still be workloads delivered from traditional infrastructure sitting within an organization’s premises.

That’s not to say there aren’t particular things that organizations need to think about. There are indeed a plethora of both technical and business considerations that need to be taken into account; we detailed many of these in a previous CloudU report[2]. But what we need, beyond a checklist of things to look at, is some clarity around what different organizations consider to be the drivers, barriers and key decision points involved in a move to the Cloud.

I’m interested to hear the process that business and technology folks within organizations go through in determining where there workloads reside, and your thoughts or comments would be appreciated.

We’re covering these areas of Cloud Computing on an ongoing basis at CloudU[3], an educational series aimed at increasing the knowledge and skill that SMBs have about the Cloud.

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Endnotes:
  1. Cloud Computing: http://www.rackspace.com/cloud/what_is_cloud_computing/
  2. report: http://broadcast.rackspace.com/hosting_knowledge/whitepapers/planning-a-move-to-the-cloud.pdf
  3. CloudU: http://www.rackspace.com/cloud/cloudU/

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