Cloud computing is an important and disruptive long-term force in the industry, with a significant potential for impact on every aspect of IT, the business and how users access applications, information and business services. Cloud computing is shifting from an isolated project to a central IT strategy, and most organizations now assume that cloud computing, in some form, will become a reality.
Cloud computing and related technologies continue to evolve rapidly, and there is continuing confusion and misunderstanding as vendors’ cloud offerings proliferate and they hype “cloud” as a marketing term. Nevertheless, the cloud offers significant potential advantages in delivering greater business and IT agility, more rapid access to application enhancements, innovative new cloud-optimized applications, and a shift to operational costs and lower costs in some instances. Gartner estimates that total spending on cloud services will increase from $110 billion in 2012 to $210 billion in 2016.
Gartner sees enterprise cloud strategies evolving in five key areas:
– Consuming cloud services
– Building private cloud services
– Securing, managing and governing hybrid IT and cloud
– Cloud-enabled and optimized applications
– Enterprise delivery of cloud services
The primary focus during the past few years has been on building private cloud services and establishing models to determine if, when and where to consume cloud services. These continue to form the baseline for any successful cloud strategy. Companies that have not already established formal mechanisms to evaluate cloud services based on business benefits and workload/data constraints must do so in 2013 or risk falling behind. Likewise, companies that have not examined how they can apply targeted technologies and techniques from the world of cloud computing to build a cloud-like data center risk falling behind.
In 2013, technologies such as SDN and CMPs are influencing the design of private cloud computing and will lead to advances in consuming external cloud services. The need to establish hybrid IT strategies that span traditional and new cloud models becomes imperative in 2013, and hybrid models, in one form or another, will influence cloud strategies for the foreseeable future.
Impacts and Recommendations
The need to deal with hybrid environments gives rise to hybrid IT process models and the positioning of ITaaSB.
Most enterprises that consume cloud services will operate in a hybrid model in which they must secure, manage and govern what is in their environments, as well as external cloud services — including those that have been acquired without IT involvement. Enterprises must deal with application development, delivery and integration patterns that need to be modified to safely exploit this hybrid internal/external, cloud/non-cloud environment. Meanwhile, users continue to clamor for the speed, agility, flexibility, more choices and the perceived cost savings that cloud computing promises. Hybrid IT is emerging as an approach to deal with these complexities; however, hybrid IT does not refer to a particular technological approach or delivery model. Hybrid IT describes a new mission and operational model for IT in a dynamically multi-sourced, heterogeneous world. In hybrid IT, the role of the IT organization is to be the value-added enabler for the most effective and efficient use of services across the enterprise.
Hybrid IT requires that the relationship between the IT department and the business evolve and expand. IT becomes the trusted broker for most, if not all, IT-based services, regardless of provider sourcing or the style of service delivery. In this ITaaSB model, IT takes responsibility for service delivery and service levels, even when those services are delivered by other providers. This eliminates the requirement for the enterprise user to be concerned about how a service is being implemented and acquired — enabling them to focus strictly on using the service. As a broker, IT engages with the business to select services, while shielding them from many provider selections, style of computing choice and integration issues. It also ensures compliance with corporate and industry governance requirements.
– IT departments in larger enterprises should plan on playing the role of ITaaSB for their enterprises.
– Design private cloud services with a hybrid future in mind, and ensure that future integration and interoperability are possible.
– Determine the relative role of the IT organization and external brokers and integrators in fulfilling the hybrid IT mission.
– Establish security, management and governance models to coordinate the use of cloud services across isolation and provider boundaries, particularly across internal and external boundaries.
As the use of multiple cloud services increases, enterprises should look to CSBs to facilitate consumption as part of an overall hybrid IT strategy.
As cloud computing adoption proliferates, so does the need for consumption assistance. CSB refers to the market model and roles that support the intermediation between cloud services and cloud consumers. A CSB (see “A CIO Primer on Cloud Services Brokerage” ) primarily delivers three capabilities:
These capabilities can be delivered by both internal and external service providers to add value to one or more cloud services (generally public or hybrid, but possibly private) on behalf of one or more consumers of those services.
As part of the move to ITaaSB, IT departments should explore how they can position themselves as internal CSBs by establishing a purchasing process that accommodates cloud adoption and encourages business units to come to the IT organization for advice and support. This key element of a hybrid IT model will enable IT to track the services that business users are acquiring and bring a degree of governance to the process. However, IT must walk a fine line.
If this process is used simply to erect a barrier to accessing cloud services, individuals will once again bypass IT. The enterprise CSB approach can be implemented by modifying existing processes and tools, such as internal portals and service catalogs. In addition, vendors of operations management and portal software, as well as external CSB providers, will offer tools to facilitate the process.
Augmenting ITaaSB will be external CSBs. During the next three years, we expect the use of external cloud brokerage to accelerate, with an expanded set of providers and offerings. Deploying cloud services will involve substantial integration work, and many CSBs will deliver integration services and employ business process management suites to address this complexity. Steady investments by IT distributors and communication service providers for cloud aggregation brokerage offerings will help small or midsize businesses acquire, leverage and maximize investments involving multiple cloud services.
– Focus on the cloud and internal CSB as key elements of a larger hybrid IT approach.
– Establish an ITaaSB model to facilitate the use of external CSBs, as well as individual cloud services.
– Train IT staff in relationship management to better enable them to manage cloud provider relationships and contracts.
– Determine the strategic focus of a CSB provider and align this with your greatest need — aggregation, integration or customization.
– Evaluate third-party CSBs that can facilitate the consumption of cloud services.