Based on a recent Enterprise Management Associates® (EMA™) research study, the main reasons for adopting cloud computing, mentioned by 52%-62% of respondents, were as follows:
a) Agility: Accelerating service creation and provisioning
b) Performance and resiliency: Improving the performance and resiliency of business services
c) Resource optimization: Reducing operational and capital expense
Respondents mentioned a vast variety of enterprise applications – e-mail, CRM, VDI, custom applications, ERP, accounting, HR, telephony, and even mainframe-based application services – when asked what they were planning to host in the cloud. This response illustrates the importance that most companies place in the adoption of a cloud model. Organizations are looking for faster and more agile IT delivery models that help strengthen their positions in the marketplace. In today’s relentlessly competitive markets, the ability to rapidly build and provision well-performing and resilient business services at a reasonable cost can be seen as an essential strategic differentiator for the entire enterprise.
If this agility is not offered by the company’s internal IT organization, business stakeholders and developers look for the resources they require outside of the corporate data center. Growing corporate credit card bills for Amazon EC2 and other public cloud services are unambiguous evidence of this fact.
These public cloud solutions are not appropriate for every application from a compliance, security, and cost point of view. Moreover, without corporate IT governance, this new “shadow IT” may introduce performance and resiliency-related risks to business services.
To bring back users under corporate governance, the enterprise has to offer a service delivery model that is similar in speed and convenience to the one offered by the public cloud. Over time, most enterprises plan to embrace a hybrid cloud model – where IT becomes a broker of services, whether hosted in the private cloud or sourced through external cloud providers. As a first step, the majority of IT organizations today are focused on building their own private clouds.
Virtualization, a Pre-condition for Cloud
Data center virtualization was heralded as a major step toward agility and efficiency of enterprise IT. However, progress was often been not as significant as expected. In many cases, overall resource utilization remained at the same approximately 20% as before these virtualization efforts. Provisioning speed often did not increase significantly either, as the traditional challenges of building new physical servers were replaced by a new set of management challenges. Physical server sprawl decreased, but the efficiency gains often were offset by virtual machine sprawl, as it suddenly became easy to spin up large numbers of virtual servers within short periods of time. Organizations were frequently overwhelmed with lifecycle management requirements for a rapidly increasing number of servers. And while virtual servers could be created quickly, this did not address the end-to-end provisioning process associated with new applications and business services. This management deficit frequently led to virtualization stall, where the IT department was unable to cope with the myriad of virtualization-related process management challenges.