Analysis of Cloud Computing for 2012

Figure 1. Cloud Computing Agenda Overview

Analysis of Cloud Computing for 2012

Cloud computing allows new relationships between those that provide solutions based on technology and those that consume them. As cloud computing matures and adoption grows, businesses continue to explore its potential. But as cloud computing has become more real for the enterprise, there has been massive confusion as to which options are most appropriate for use, and when.

Cloud computing heralds an evolution of business — no less influential than the era of e-business — in potentially positive and negative ways. Virtualization, service orientation and the Internet have converged to sponsor a phenomenon that enables individuals and businesses to choose how they’ll acquire or deliver IT services, with reduced emphasis on the constraints of traditional software and hardware licensing models.

A continuing trend in business computing is the use of outsourcing to shift work from inside an organization to a responsible service provider. This trend is part of the appeal of cloud computing, as businesses seek to divest themselves of computer resources, but retain (or enhance) the value associated with the use of these resources.

Cloud computing affects more than just businesses. The use of the cloud has become commonplace for individual consumers as they acquire solutions based on technology with a reduced need for IT specialists to assist in this effort. The use of cloud solutions brought into the enterprise by individuals is shifting the way IT organizations respond to the demands of their users. This leads to a shift in the technologies these IT organizations buy from, and a shift in which vendors they depend on. Thus, cloud computing is changing user expectations, business reactions, and the vendors and markets that supply them.

Key Issues

·         How should enterprises exploit cloud computing?

·         How will architectures and techniques evolve to support the many flavors of cloud computing?

·         How will cloud computing evolve?

·         What vendors, markets and industries will be transformed by cloud computing?

How should enterprises exploit cloud computing?

Cloud computing implementations are becoming real, and we are learning lessons from the field. Cloud computing will shift the way purchasers of IT products and services contract with vendors (as well as the way those vendors deliver their wares). IT has the ability not only to consume services, but also to provide cloud services by leveraging cloud-enabled technology. IT can increasingly position itself as a broker between internal and external services. Using distributed computing resources, global-class design, new data models, and Web-centric architectures and languages, internal and external organizations can provide cloud computing services, and can potentially offer platforms for building and delivering new applications.

Given the economics of the cloud and the new business models emerging around the delivery of cloud-based services, organizations could create and deliver these new applications at a lower cost, compared with conventional approaches. However, many technological and business models are, as yet, unproved. While there are many areas in which IT can leverage the cloud, there are challenges in adapting an enterprise’s culture, skills, management, integration and vendor management strategies. Anyone, regardless of his or her perspective or role (user or vendor, consumer or provider), may end up being a consumer, provider or broker of cloud services. IT shops in particular specifically need to define their actions in all three levels (especially as a broker between their customers and external rather than internal providers). Those providing private cloud services need to begin to think of themselves as vendors, even if the customers they sell to are very constrained (internal).

How will architectures and techniques evolve to support the many flavors of cloud computing?

Companies can exploit cloud-based services in a variety of ways to develop an application or a solution. The least disruptive approach is to continue using traditional tools and techniques, and to exploit a virtualized pool of compute and storage services to host the application. A more sophisticated model is to build a program that will uniquely exploit cloud-centric distributed and parallel processing capabilities, and run the resulting program in the cloud. Developers can also create and execute applications internally, and simply access external applications, information or process services via a mashup model. All these approaches demand new skills and techniques to build, deploy, manage and maintain applications.

Hybrid cloud computing refers to the combination of external public cloud computing services and internal resources in a coordinated fashion to assemble solutions. Hybrid cloud computing implies significant integration or coordination between internal and external environments. Hybrid cloud computing can take a number of forms, including cloudbursting, where an application is dynamically extended from a private cloud platform to an external public cloud service based on the need for additional resources. More ambitious approaches define a solution as a series of granular services, each of which can run in whole or in part on a private cloud platform or on a number of external cloud platforms, with execution dynamically determined based on changing technical, financial and business conditions.

How will cloud computing evolve?

What sets cloud computing apart from traditional outsourcing and hosting approaches is the focus on both outcome and consumption model. Behind the scenes, providers use particular design models, architectures, technologies and best practices to instantiate and support the delivery of an elastically scalable, service-based environment serving multiple constituents. Providers may have created custom hardware, software and/or processes to deliver the service.

Enterprise IT users have long desired a more agile, flexible and service-based environment for the delivery of internal applications and services. As cloud computing gains momentum, and as particular approaches prove it is possible to lower costs and provide greater flexibility, there is the potential to apply the lessons to internal systems, as well as to leverage external systems.

What vendors, markets and industries will be transformed by cloud computing?

Cloud computing is a disruptive force. The impact will be huge for IT vendors. As new business models evolve and become the province of not just consumer markets, much will change. Consumer-focused vendors are the most mature in delivering a “global-class” offering from technology and community perspectives; most investment in recent years has occurred in consumer services. Business-focused vendors have rich business services and robust technologies. While, at times, they are very mature in selling these offerings, they also face wholesale changes as a result of the disruption.

Many vendors from different perspectives (traditional IT vendors, Web-centric vendors or vendors from other businesses) that have not been technology providers will play an important role in the overall cloud market. Vendors will comprise those that provide cloud services directly, those that provide it intermediately (as cloud services brokers) and those that provide cloud-enabling technology providers can use (whether public or private). Cloud computing is impacting industries in many varying ways. Some highly regulated industries are somewhat limited in what they can do today, while some industries are leading the charge in cloud adoption.

Related Priorities

Key Initiatives address significant business opportunities and threats, and typically have defined objectives, substantial financial implications and high organizational visibility. They are typically implemented by a designated team with clear roles, responsibilities and defined performance objectives. Table 1 shows the related priorities.

Table 1. Related Priorities
Key Initiative Focus
Application Development Application development involves methods and practices for developing, deploying and maintaining custom software applications.
Application and Integration Platforms Application infrastructure is essential software (middleware) that executes and integrates business applications on-premises and in the cloud.
Cloud Computing Cloud computing is a style of computing where scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities are provided as a service to customers, using Internet technologies.
SOA and Application Architecture Modern application architectures — such as service-oriented architecture (SOA), event-driven architecture (EDA), representational state transfer (REST) and others — help create agile business applications.
Portal and Web Strategies Web computing comprises diverse technologies and business solutions, ranging from simple, traditional websites to sophisticated enterprise portals and mobile applications.
Virtualization Virtualization detaches workloads and data from the functional side of physical infrastructure, enabling unprecedented flexibility and agility for storage, servers and desktops.

Source: Gartner (February 2012)

By David Mitchell Smith | David W. Cearley