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Cloud Computing: The New Normal in Enterprise Infrastructure

Hybrid is the dominant architecture

As we work with dozens of companies that are actively running pilots and doing early deployments in the cloud, it made me think about what the “new normal” will look like in enterprise IT infrastructure. A recent report from the Yankee Group shows that adoption of cloud is accelerating, with 24% of large enterprises already using IaaS, and another 37% expected to adopt IaaS within the next 24 months. It’s clearly a time of major shifts in the IT world, and while we wait for the hype to subside and the smoke to clear, some early outlines of the new paradigm are emerging. Here’s what it looks like to us at CloudSwitch:

  1. Hybrid is the dominant architecture: on-prem environments (be they traditional data centers or the emerging private clouds) will need to be federated with public clouds for capacity on-demand. This is particularly true for spikey apps and use cases that are driven by short-term peaks such as marketing campaigns, load/scale testing and new product launches. The tie-back to the data center from external pools of resources is a critical component, as is maintaining enterprise-class security and control over all environments. Multiple cloud providers, APIs and hypervisors will co-exist and must be factored into the federation strategy.
  2. Applications are “tiered” into categories of workloads: just as storage has been tiered based on how frequently it’s accessed and how important it is to mission-critical operations, application workloads will be categorized based on their infrastructure requirements. In the end, app developers and users don’t really want to care about where and how the application is hosted and managed; they just want IT to ensure a specific QoS and meet specific business requirements around geography, compliance, etc. The cloud offers a new opportunity to access a much broader range of resources that can be “fit” against the needs of the business. In some cases, the current IT infrastructure is over-provisioning and over-delivering production gear for lower-importance/usage apps; in other cases it’s woefully under-delivering.
  3. IT becomes a service-enabler, not just a passive provider of infrastructure resources: IT is now in a position to provide self-service capabilities across a large set of resources, internally and externally, to developers, field and support teams. This requires a new set of skills, as we’ve blogged about before, but the cloud gives IT the opportunity to meet business needs in a much more agile and scalable way, while still maintaining control over who gets to use which resources and how.
  4. The channel shifts from resellers to service providers: as noted by Andrew Hickey at ChannelWeb, the opportunities for resellers will need to shift as companies reduce their large hardware and software buys in favor of the cloud. The new focus will be on providing services and consulting with an opex model and monthly payments, and expertise in change management and predictive use models will become core competencies. We’ve already started to see this shift at CloudSwitch with a new crop of cloud-focused consulting/SI boutiques springing up in the market to help CIOs plan their cloud deployments.

For many enterprises, these shifts are still being discussed at a high level as CIOs formulate their cloud strategies. Other organizations are diving right in and selecting a set of applications to showcase the benefits of cloud to internal stakeholders. We’ve been fortunate at CloudSwitch to work with some of the earliest cloud adopters and with our cloud provider partners to help define some of the “new normal.”

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More Stories By Ellen Rubin

Ellen Rubin is the CEO and co-founder of ClearSky Data, an enterprise storage company that recently raised $27 million in a Series B investment round. She is an experienced entrepreneur with a record in leading strategy, market positioning and go-to- market efforts for fast-growing companies. Most recently, she was co-founder of CloudSwitch, a cloud enablement software company, acquired by Verizon in 2011. Prior to founding CloudSwitch, Ellen was the vice president of marketing at Netezza, where as a member of the early management team, she helped grow the company to more than $130 million in revenues and a successful IPO in 2007. Ellen holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Harvard University.