Demystifying cloud computing to suit business needs

Prashant Gupta Verizon BusinessToday, CIOs as well as CEOs world over have realized that the cloud can be a significant factor driving business agility. A recent study conducted by NASSCOM/Deloitte on the Indian cloud computing industry has revealed that the sector is set to reach $16 billion by 2020. Therefore, it’s no wonder that the cloud is fast becoming an integral part of the organizational IT strategy for 80% of CIOs.

As the interest in cloud grows, we will continue to see growth for a long period. There is a remarkable potential for the cloud computing in the Indian market according to an IDC study that revealed the growth rate will be at CAGR of 40% by 2014 from an estimated USG 66.7 million dollars in 2009.

Choosing the right fit for your business needs
A smart CIO knows that traditional IT set-ups cannot be completely eradicated from the enterprise system due to reliability, security, and compliance requirements of the business.

Therefore CIOs need to choose the right fit for their business from an array of solutions available in the marketplace from the variety of cloud computing solutions that are available on different levels of service that can fit a wide range of computing requirements.

In fact, cloud computing provides flexibility and control costs through a modular service model built on a common hosted platform and presents itself as an attractive option to many technology decision makers. As a result, it is important to seek and demystify the options and show that it’s possible to achieve the desired increase in responsiveness without compromising the resilience and integrity of the services your IT organization provides.

Switch from “just in case” to “just in time”
As CIOs from the IT departments are asked to cut costs, they are beginning to look at managed services like cloud-based services which will help them curb cost effectively on both capital and operational expenses that were earlier the main resistance factor.

While it is important to create and innovate a cloud-based business model, it is also crucial to understand the elements of each service offering and how it can serve organizational operations for CIOs to make an informed decision.

A smart business knows buying solutions “as a service” delivers better economics, faster time to market, access to information and content sharing virtually anywhere in the world.

To evaluate and prepare for the cloud, enterprises need to determine what type of cloud would best suit their needs. They need to assess their readiness for change by looking at governance, process, compliance and technical architecture. They also need to look at applications, and most importantly, assess the people, process and technology critical to operationalizing within the cloud.

Improve business productivity and continuity
The promise of cloud computing is to deliver on-demand computing capacity reliably. Services delivered from the cloud can be accessed from remote offices, from the road, or just about anywhere where there’s a good Internet connection. The scalability of cloud infrastructure translates into the ability for service providers to shift resources and route around problems easily. Put this accessibility and flexibility of cloud-based services together to get highly resilient model for business continuity planning and disaster recovery.

Work in new ways
Organizations are discovering that scalability and accessibility of cloud-based services create new opportunities for collaboration—not just between colleagues but by making it easier to open up applications, information, and processes to partners, suppliers, and customers. Because it’s fast, easy, and cost-effective to provide cloud computing resources and also explore new ideas more readily.

The obstacles and challenges
Even though, most IT leaders are already using or planning to use cloud services for their organization. There are some who still have reservations with regards to security considering cloud is a shared resource and not owned or controlled by their organization. They are uncomfortable and feel that it’s too much of a risk losing control over data and compliance.
The major part of concern is where and who will store the business sensitive data, important information with regards to customer information, intellectual property, trade secrets, or legal documents outside the outside the company firewall.

For many organizations, the most appealing feature of cloud computing is the flexible capacity it offers. However it is also important to understand if the cloud model chosen by the organization will help and perform what it is required to do.

Not all clouds are created equal
Sometimes the obvious needs stating. The concerns expressed about cloud computing assume that all cloud services are created equal in terms of the control or lack the required control that they offer over security, performance and a host commercial considerations. This isn’t true. CIOs needs to be well versed with phrases such as “public cloud,” “private cloud,” “hybrid cloud,” ”enterprise cloud,” ”commodity cloud,” and other variations on the theme.

Performance driven and Staying in charge
With security, the need for particular performance requirements or control over performance will differ depending on the system, application, or process being delivered from the cloud.
People are aware of readily available public cloud services, and this makes cloud computing something you have to consider. The concerns about cloud computing fundamentally boil down to issues of control. While organizations look at security by placing stringent norms and laws in place, there is no greater loss of control than having employees bypassing the IT, legal, by going to a provider of ”commodity-style” with a swipe of a credit card, getting the service they need. While this might be appropriate for some small companies, this does not provide adequate protection and control for enterprises.

As organizations seek to realize the benefits of cloud computing there will also be a mix of IT service delivery models that include a variety of types of cloud computing. The choice of private or public (whether commodity or enterprise) will come down to the specific needs for specific services and how well the offerings from particular service providers can be integrated with the choices the enterprise is making for other services.

Easing Business from tensions related to technology and vice-versa
Cloud computing will help resolve the conflict between business and IT as everybody becomes more service-oriented—IT leaders see themselves as service providers and business leaders as consumers of those services.

Going forward, enterprises are already looking beyond private cloud to hybrid cloud computing hybrid-cloud and cloud-to-cloud capabilities.

One of the most attractive features of this new technology is the prospect of converting large, upfront capital investments in IT infrastructure into smaller, manageable ‘pay-per-use’ annuity payments. We will see that when network quality improves, it will make it easier for companies to drive their IT onto the cloud. The biggest business benefit for businesses is fast go-to-market, Cloud overcomes the delays in IT provisioning.

The author, Prashant Gupta, is Head of Solutions at Verizon Business