Cloud computing is next biggest trend



 For the past few years, cloud computing has been heralded as the next biggest trend in the IT sector with benefits set to meet every business requirement.

Market analysts from leading agencies such as Gartner and IDC have in their independent opinion estimated an exponential growth of the cloud market with predictions estimating it to reach a value of  $72.9 billion by 2015.

Already organisations across the Middle East are approaching cloud solution vendors with the hope of deploying a model which will dramatically cut operational costs that still act as a vehicle to drive business. And while such discussions are well under way, there still is a fair level of confusion regarding the actual path to the cloud.

George DeBono, general manager, Middle East & Africa at Red Hat, says that one of the reasons behind this bewilderment is the sheer number of offerings available under the broad cloud umbrella.

The wide array of cloud strategies and enabling technologies that have been made available in the past 12 to 36 months offer varying levels of performance in factors such as access, dynamic allocation, scalability, application hosting and management. It is no wonder then that IT managers are completely overwhelmed by the cloud clutter.

To achieve effective utilisation and cut the cost of procuring and managing physical servers, virtualisation has become the norm in large enterprises across the Middle East.

Virtualisation-related cost benefits, however, don’t directly address the business need for more agile IT. Cloud computing on the other hand does this and it is time to transition from virtualisation to the cloud.

IT managers however need to be wary of hastily migrating to the cloud without a well-thought-up action plan because they risk needless expenditure on technologies which do not meet the unique requirements of the organisation. The organisation may choose the right solution but fail to utilise it to the maximum potential because of an improper deployment.

By following the guidelines described below, IT managers can get their private cloud deployments on track right from the start. The activities below mark out the key steps involved in migrating from the enterprises’ existing virtualised environment to the private or hybrid cloud.

Establishing goals

Building a private cloud designed specifically for an enterprise must start with a business discussion. This should include a mix of key stakeholders - typically a team with developer, users, and more importantly, externally facing product, marketing and sales managers. The discussion should revolve around how the cloud can accelerate business processes or transform business offerings.

Business objectives, constraints and the expected benefits all need to be highlighted during this phase.

The vital questions which need to be addressed are: what gives the business its competitive advantage?

Where does technology drive opportunity, and is it limited by having IT in the critical path? What new things can IT do to help the business? What limitations does the current IT situation impose? How will the enterprise benefit if the deployment is a success? What KPIs will be used to measure cloud success?

If businesses decide for a path to cloud and an architecture for cloud on a company level, they should be taking into account that this will be a decision to last for 5-10 years.

Infrastructure


In the near future, enterprises are likely to have IT infrastructures which involve a mix of physical, virtual and cloud-based resources deployed at either internal or external locations.

Instead of thinking about each environment separately, organisations need to adopt a portfolio view of all of their IT resources. This will help IT managers determine what workloads will be best deployed in which environment. Also it will facilitate to improve process efficiency gains over all infrastructure silos.

Whatever be the cloud model ultimately deployed, it is advisable that in the initial stages low priority workloads are first tested in the newly set-up environment in order to ensure that it meets the performance and quality  of services specifications.

The benefits of lower operations costs, improved business agility and greater scalability and manageability make a compelling case for pursuing a private or hybrid cloud strategy.


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