Inside Analysis

Choosing a Route to the Cloud

Enterprise focus on Cloud computing is evolving fast. Overall Cloud adoption is growing, and early concerns over control and Cloud capabilities have given way to more meaningful business discussions centered on strategy and deployment. Early Cloud adaptors have proven that Cloud is a viable technology that can deliver faster implementations, easier and less costly scalability, and in many cases lower capital and operational costs in addition to increasing IT’s ability to serve the business.  Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) research shows that increasing flexibility and agility along with reducing complexity for IT management are contributing to the adoption of this technology and acting as primary drivers to its adoption as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Primary Drivers of Cloud Adoption

When you step back and examine these drivers they make a compelling case for the technology. At the same time, as the business gets closer to making purchasing decisions IT gets more involved and brings a new set of criteria to the process. In order for IT to realize the value they require from Cloud computing they demand that certain expectations be met. Solutions need to deliver significant security, risk and compliance capabilities; configurable management and performance tools; as well as supplying easy implementation, lower costs and ease of use. In the end, IT plays a key role in technology acquisition so it is critical that the business includes IT throughout the selection process.

Selecting a Service Model 

As strategies become more sophisticated, companies are adopting Cloud across three CLoud service models. Software as a Service (SaaS) is by far the most popular with 67% of EMA research respondents already deploying SaaS solutions, followed by Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Adoption of SaaS solutions is commonly driven by low barrier to entry both in cost and overall implementation. Generally speaking SaaS BI solutions insulate the users and IT from managing all but the simplest IT duties. Underlying infrastructure such as servers, network, operating system, storage are generally controlled by the Cloud provider.

IaaS provides IT the highest and most granular level of control generally giving control over operating systems, storage, deployed applications and possibly limited control of select networking components such as host firewalls.  Deciding which service model to commit to is dependent on many factors but will often boil down to how much control your organization wants or needs and what resources you have available to support the project.

PaaS implementations provide a wider set of controls for IT to manage deployed applications and often allow for environmental configuration control across the platform. Companies who expect to leverage Cloud often should look closely at PaaS to take advantage of having a consistent infrastructure platform to support their Cloud application strategy.

Selecting a Deployment Model

Once you have decided on the best service model to support your Cloud strategy your next decision is to determine which deployment model is best for your project or organization.  The most popular[1] are listed here:

Private Cloud. The Cloud infrastructure is operated solely for an organization. It may be managed by the organization or a third party and may exist on premise or off premise.

Community Cloud. The Cloud infrastructure is shared by several organizations and supports a specific community that has shared concerns (e.g., mission, security requirements, policy and compliance considerations). It may be managed by the organizations or a third party and may exist on premise or off premise.

Public Cloud. The Cloud infrastructure is made available to the general public or a large industry group and is owned by an organization selling Cloud services.

Hybrid Cloud. The Cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more Clouds (private, community or public) that remain unique entities but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology which enables data and application portability (e.g., Cloud bursting for load-balancing between Clouds).

Each of these models delivers a unique value proposition to the end-user company. Public Cloud captured mindshare with early adopters of Cloud technology but recent issues with leading public Cloud service providers has cooled enterprise adoption in this segment. The good news for these vendors is that while they have experienced some highly publicized downtime, none of them have been involved with significant security issues.

Public, private and hybrid are the leading choices for enterprise deployments of Cloud technology, and once again control is at the heart of the debate.  EMA research shows that private Cloud deployment is most popular (41%) with respondents who are already in production with Cloud projects. There is a significant shift toward hybrid deployment among respondents who are researching projects with 52% of respondents investigating this technology. Hybrid leverages two or more deployment models, and it is clear that the combination of private and public are gaining traction with the enterprise. This makes good sense as users can leverage the lower cost of public infrastructure in combination with the security and control afforded by private infrastructure. In the end, hybrid can be the best of both worlds.

Data types and the policy surrounding those will play a critical role in deciding how best to leverage public, private and hybrid solutions. Companies need to review compliance and government issues as they pertain to the data used in the Cloud and for global implementations, researching the laws of each company supplying data to your system is a requirement when utilizing Cloud technologies. Often countries in the EMEA market regulate data along with its geographic location. Many types of regulated data aren’t allowed to be hosted outside of the originating country. Many public Cloud providers aren’t equipped to meet these regulatory restraints.

Familiar Challenges

Now that you have decided on the optimal service and deployment model, it is time to get a project implemented. Unfortunately you will find familiar and traditional roadblocks to success in this process as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Roadblocks to Cloud Adoption

Politics and turf wars are common when data is involved, and it will take a strong project advocate to push a Cloud project forward. Careful planning and communication between business and IT are critical for success and overall project sponsorship. Cloud offers a compelling case for faster implementation and cost savings but do not overlook the point that these are IT projects and budget considerations and resource allocation will play a role in moving a project forward.

In the end, the road to the Cloud is reasonably clear and generally dependent on the level of control you desire. As an enterprise platform, Cloud has proven itself strong enough for the biggest and most critical projects and it should be part of your company’s strategy.

Reference:

[1] Cloud Business Intelligence and Data Management as a Service – A Global Survey on Adoption, Challenges and Outlook An Enterprise Management Associates® (EMA™) and BARC Report

Shawn Rogers

About Shawn Rogers

Shawn Rogers, Enterprise Management Associates Vice President, has more than 19 years of hands-on IT experience, with a focus on Internet-enabled technology. Shawn’s passions are rooted in the online world, focusing on analytics, social media, business intelligence, enterprise 2.0, SaaS and open source. He applies his nearly two decades of experience to every client engagement.

Shawn Rogers

About Shawn Rogers

Shawn Rogers, Enterprise Management Associates Vice President, has more than 19 years of hands-on IT experience, with a focus on Internet-enabled technology. Shawn’s passions are rooted in the online world, focusing on analytics, social media, business intelligence, enterprise 2.0, SaaS and open source. He applies his nearly two decades of experience to every client engagement.

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