The IT industry’s love affair with Cloud-based architecture continues unabated. However, what is missing from the discussion is a pragmatic view of exactly where Cloud migration makes sense and produces business transformation, and where traditional on-premise solutions remain the best option.
Research giant Gartner now positions Cloud Computing in the “stabilisation” zone of its maturity cycle – reflecting that the over-exuberance seen over the past few years may be coming to an end, as companies get to grips with the practical realities of shifting their core applications to a new environment. Many of the true benefits of the Cloud are, in fact, yet to be made fully available. Those companies who have already shifted many applications have essentially laid a solid foundation that will enable them to achieve Cloud’s benefits in time.
These “future” benefits include:
· Increasingly rapid iterations - Major vendors of IT applications and services will create and update their services with an increasingly Cloud-based consumption model in mind. This results in faster iterations of enterprise software and faster attention to any bugs or inefficiencies. Those organisations consuming such services via the Cloud stand to benefit from the rapid evolution of the services.
· Faster response to security issues - The threat of cybercrime will only rise in importance, as more of the world’s transactions and interactions happen in the digital landscape. A Cloud-based deployment framework enables security companies to respond with patches and updates that mitigate the cybercrime risks facing their clients.
· Positive environmental impact - As Cloud-based consumption models remove the need for massive investment in physical on-premise hardware, energy requirements are reduced. Relying increasingly on Cloud providers for hosting and storage will leverage economies of scale and mean that newer, more efficient, and more environmentally-friendly hardware is used.
· Enabling enterprise mobility - Cloud-based architecture generally considers end-point access as a primary consideration. With most enterprise-grade Cloud applications, the encryption and security for end-point devices is fully catered for. This enables the organisation to roll out an enterprise mobility programme that makes staff members happier, more flexible and more productive – while protecting vital company intellectual property.
With this in mind, the focus for the coming five - 10 years will be on developing hybrid models of Cloud adoption. It will be all about blending private Cloud, public Cloud and on-premise – and shifting the balance of these workloads over time. The key considerations when designing and implementing hybrid Cloud solutions lie in how best to smartly integrate the services. This ensures that the organisation is benefitting from those Cloud advantages that are available today, as well as positioning itself to benefit from the further advantages in the future.
Cloud needs to be seen as a long-term strategy and a long-term investment that will produce multiple streams of payback, or return-on-investment. It is not a “quick fix” solution where all applications can be thrown into a new hosted environment immediately. In enterprise IT there is a generally-accepted adage that adopting anything too early comes with its risks (higher costs, less maturity, security vulnerabilities, limited ecosystems, etc). This rings true for the Cloud. While it promises phenomenal benefits, companies should be conscious of the risks associated with using the wrong Cloud vendors and partners, migrating the wrong services to the Cloud, and potentially losing direct control over certain key systems and databases.
Ultimately, the Cloud revolution will transform all aspects of an organisation’s computing requirements (infrastructure, applications and software) into a service as simple and reliable as electricity or water. However, that time is still some way off. The story of the Cloud is still very much in the early chapters. As hosted services evolve and mature, organisations adopting integrated hybrid models will be in prime position to accelerate their Cloud migration and leverage the transformative benefits as and when they emerge.