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June 28, 2010

Cloud Computing to Quickly Commoditize Services Offerings

Much of attention is being given to cloud computing. This recent type of computing services delivery has caught the attention of technology executives that are out of capacity, as well as financial executives who are looking to curb the costs of information services within their organization. All this attention has driven cloud computing from being a business concept to one of the fastest growing segments of the IT industry. In fact several believe cloud government computing will grow to an estimated $6 billion to $8 billion by 2015. One report forecasted a 40 percent compound annual growth rate (CGAR). These forecasts and the numerous announcements about cloud offerings are clear evidence of the interest in the cloud. This has given rise to the belief that cloud initiatives are the top priority of technology executives around the globe.


While the picture sure looks rosy, there are many expressing concern.  It is not so much about the technology as it is the cost model. Obscure fees and charges could abound in a cloud services environment and should be thoroughly investigated before signing an agreement. Perhaps the best advice ever given was 'Know Your Vendor.' Some architectural strategists caution the IT community to proceed with caution and not to fall victim to the technology hype that often accompanies recently introduced technology offerings.  After spending some time examining the current state of cloud computing, the following represent a few of the more interesting findings.

Top Findings

  • Moving IT operations to a cloud computing model hasn't been as easy as it looks.
  • Most cloud offerings are moving slowly through the maturity model and some providers have adopted a' learn-as-you-go' approach.
  • There are real issues and concerns about security within the cloud and data leakage issues that need to be addressed.
  • The legal issues around cloud are just now being addressed, but little if any case law exists.
  • As the number of cloud vendors rapidly expands in the short-term, technology strategists believe that this will commoditize the services offerings quickly.Today, information flows freely beyond the traditional boundaries of organizations. As these boundaries are continuously stretched and enterprise data continues to increase at these unprecedented rates, so does the risk of data loss and the threat of data breaches.  The five factors listed above and other concerns are gating the widespread movement to the cloud. As traditional computing environments become increasingly virtual, the need to increase data integrity, regulatory compliance and improve overall security has become a critical success factor for technology executives.  

Conclusion

IT organizations must take a comprehensive approach to security as they address consolidation, virtualization and automation in the cloud. The best cloud advice given to date is that organizations would be well advised to walk before they run when it comes to moving to a cloud computing model. Organizations currently considering leveraging a cloud platform are focused on how to use the cloud securely. Small pilot programs and proof of concept initiatives are the best course of action given the current level of maturity of many vendors and potential tenants for the cloud. Take your time, the migration from traditional data models to public and private cloud models should occurs in phases. Learn as you go and mitigate your risks.

  • FACT - Server virtualization burst on to the technology scene in the early 2000s.
  • FACT - The current state of the cloud market is accurately described as interested observers.
  • FACT - International regulations and civil liabilities play an increasing role in decisions about data security and data protection.
  • FACT - In 2008 IT spent under 5 percent of cloud computing.

Kevin G. Coleman, a consultant and advisor with Technolytics Institute, writes the Data Security column for TMCnet. To read more articles by Kevin, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison
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