Optimizing Cloud for Business Service Delivery: it is easier said than done!
The industry seems to be nearing an inflection point in its attitudes towards cloud computing—as best I can tell from headlines, commentaries and ongoing dialog with IT deployments and vendors. If I had to put a few simple words around it, the era of “mythic hype” surrounding cloud is nearing its end and diffusing into a much richer, but far more complex landscape of options and concerns. For those of us who found the monolithic use of the word “cloud” something of a brainteaser from day-one, this is generally welcome as a sign of maturity. If anything, it means that the values of cloud computing, in all their various internal and external forms, are more, not less real, and that more serious attempts to assimilate cloud into strategic business service initiatives have finally begun.
At the end of Q4 last year we tested the first flush of these trends with “Operationalizing Cloud” and found that, indeed, 70% of cloud deployments had to be rethought, or begun again. The reasons typically involved process, the need for more cross-domain awareness, new management technologies and even some significant shifts in organizational ownership.
This year EMA is following up the effort with “Optimizing Cloud for Business Service Delivery”—which is targeted at the technologies, processes, organizations, and skill sets associated with planning, provisioning, delivering, and assuring business services across internal/external cloud, virtualized and hybrid (virtualized/physical) infrastructures. Needless to say, we’ll also be looking at what “business services” are being most aggressively moved to cloud; whether internal or externally facing Web applications, mainframe-based or distributed, ERP, CRM, BI and other mainline business applications, or even mobile, telephony and video-streaming capabilities. And we’ll be tracking how each of these as well as other business service types fare in patterns of adoption, priorities for where and how cloud and virtualization technologies are used, and even vendor priorities and success rates.
And just what cloud and service management technologies are we looking at? The list is deliberately long and deliberately heterogeneous. It falls into three overall categories: provisioning and automation; planning and optimization, and delivery and monitoring. In other words, it deliberately tests how IT organizations are combining mainstream and advanced service management technologies with those more specific to cloud such as VDI, appliance-based cloud bursting and converged infrastructure. You can see for yourself with the list below—and if you feel something important is being left out—I’d love to hear from you.
- Capacity planning/optimization analytics
Application discovery and dependency mapping
- Cross-domain configuration automation (including VM
- WAN optimization and or application acceleration
- Run-book or IT process automation
- Unified service desk (single, corporate or SP service
- Integrated service management dashboard with advanced
- Service level management and/or user experience
- Load testing
- Service catalog
- Application virtualization, desktop virtualization and
mobile device connectivity
- Service portfolio planning
- Usage-based accounting and chargeback
- Blueprinting to create application/infrastructure
- Appliance-based cloud bursting and converged infrastructure
And of course we’ll be looking at how, where and why IT is looking for support from cloud service providers—and conversely where and why IT shops are looking to avoid them.
The truth is that many vendors are being asked about cloud beyond the obvious standouts in the virtualization and SaaS space – from service desk solutions to application performance monitoring, to an emerging set of vendors specifically targeting optimization and readiness for “cloud migration.”
All this is progress of a sort. But it also suggests that the future for cloud computing will begin to deconstruct into a series of patterns or scenarios where clusters of cloud technologies, service provider interdependencies, and critical service management tools excel in bringing benefits. These clusters will no doubt differ between large enterprises and small businesses, and they will no doubt have some vertical and possibly geographical flavor, as well. And while certain patterns have begun to establish themselves, for the most part they are just still emerging. EMA believes that Q4, 2011, will be the first time when it may be possible to get a realistic view of cloud adoption patterns as they resonate across at least an intermediate-term view of the future. And capturing these, of course, is the ultimate goal of this year’s Q4 cloud research.