This year will be remembered as the year the cloud moved beyond the realm of “Back to Time-Sharing” or a curio for greenfields and start-ups. While Software as a Service (SaaS) is interesting, it can not be a center piece of your IT infrastructure or strategy due to its limited scope and cost/scalability metrics. By the same token, every IT system is not a greenfield opportunity, and most require a steady evolutionary response incorporating the existing infrastructure’s DNA and standards.
Just illustrating a “private cloud” with a “public cloud” next to it does not cut it. What does that really mean? Ever wonder what is really in that cloud(s)? Better yet, in safe understandable steps, explain it; cost benefit 3-5-7 year projections, organizational impact for IT and business process, procedural impact for disaster recovery, etc. Sorry, “Just buy my product because it is what I have to sell!” does not work; I need a tested time-phased architectural plan, with contingencies, before I commit my company and job.
For the first time in the continuing cloud saga, we have been able to put together and test a “non-aligned” approach, which allows an organization to keep IT infrastructural best practice and not “sign-in-blood” to any individual vendor’s ecosystem. With the proper design, virtual machines (VMs), can be run on multiple vendors’ platforms (Microsoft®, Amazon.com®, etc.) and on-premise, optimized to cost, performance, and security. This effectively puts control of cost and performance in the hands of the CIO and the consuming company.
In addition, credible capabilities exist in the cloud to handle disaster recovery and business continuity, regardless of whether the supporting VMs are provisioned on premise or in the cloud. Certain discreet capabilities, like email and Microsoft Office™ Automation, can be “outsourced” to the cloud and integration to consuming application systems can be maintained in the same manner many organizations have historically outsourced functions like payroll.
The greatest benefit of cloud 2012 is the ability to phase it in over time as existing servers are fully amortised and software licences roll-off and require renewal. Now we can start to put our plans together and start to take advantage of the coming margin-cutting wars of the Cloud Titans in 2013 and beyond.