Summertime and the living’s easy, or so the song says. For some overworked IT pros, the summer might represent an opportunity for a brief vacation and some much needed downtime to recharge their depleted batteries. But for many others it could be more like the old '80s song “Cruel Summer,” particularly if they can’t get a grip on their businesses’ cloud strategy.
Many businesses are turning to cloud services alternatives as a way to increase business agility and reduce costs, a trend that appears to be accelerating. For example, when ESG started tracking the use of cloud as an IT cost-containment measure back in 2009, it ranked dead last compared to eight other cost containment measure strategies. As of this year, however, cloud is now rated No. 2 for helping contain IT costs (second only to renegotiating contracts).
To further illustrate the momentum behind the public cloud as an alternative to traditional IT services, 601 IT respondents to ESG’s 2015 Spending Intentions survey indicated they were currently using the following cloud services: SaaS 68%; IaaS 41%: and PaaS 35%.
What makes these numbers particularly interesting is that when you add the respondents who indicated they plan to use these services in the future, the numbers jump to 82%, 57% and 55% respectively.
The good news, however, is that forward-thinking IT organizations can provide much needed guidance by identifying application workloads that are “cloud worthy” and be valuable advisors on cloud service selection.
Moreover, while the current trend is for businesses to consume more cloud services, the vast majority of the respondents to ESG’s survey indicated that core business applications (financial applications like ERP, and OLTP databases) would remain on-premise for the foreseeable future. This is strong evidence that hybrid cloud is the cloud consumption model that many businesses will adopt.
So the question is what tools and technologies can IT teams adopt to enable hybrid cloud services? Here are three:
1. Hybrid cloud orchestration and management. IT planners need a simplified way to manage workloads on-premise and in the cloud across heterogeneous operating systems, multiple hypervisors and containers. Think universal workload management regardless of where that workload lives.
Ideally, this tool would provide a single pane of glass for monitoring and managing hybrid cloud application infrastructure and allow for the creation of application quality-of-service policies that allow for the automated, dynamic movement of resources based on the real-time performance needs of the underlying application.
In addition, this tool would provide self-service capabilities so that end-users could select a service level appropriate for their application and launch the appropriate resources (whether on-premise or in the cloud) on demand. It would also track resource utilization and allow IT to increase its transparency with internal end users by producing chargeback and “show back” reports. Some examples include Dell Cloud Manager, CloudBolt, and Avni.
2. Cloud brokerage services. Identifying which workloads are most suitable for public cloud can be an exhaustive task that requires weeks, if not months of pre-assessment work. There are now SaaS tools available from companies like Gravitant that enable IT organizations to rapidly assess and identify which applications to move into the cloud. These tools also provide a Travelocity or Priceline.com type of user experience by presenting a single view of competing cloud services, the associated SLAs, and their costs.
3. Any-to-any hybrid cloud mobility. Some cloud providers are offering portability from their cloud infrastructure services to any other cloud provider in the market. For example, Rackspace users can migrate workloads to Microsoft Azure and Cisco Intercloud users can leverage AWS or any number of service provider environments.
This flexibility enables IT organizations to avoid cloud vendor lock-in and provides the business with more choices. ESG continues to see an increasing number of businesses utilizing IaaS and PaaS across several different cloud providers, so going forward this will be a critically important capability.
The cloud wave continues to roll on so in keeping with the summertime theme, it’s up to IT to choose one of two Beach Boys hits: “Catch A Wave” or “Wipe Out.”