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2011 – The Year the Application Drives Cloud Adoption

What do Virtualization and Cloud executives think about 2011?  Find out in this VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed Article By Ophir Kra-Oz, co-founder and VP, Products, of CloudShare

2011 - The Year the Application Drives Cloud Adoption

Lured by the promise (but only partial realization) of attractive economics, enterprises have started moving IT-intensive business functions to the cloud. However, cost-savings alone are not encouraging IT directors and business leaders to stampede, en masse, to the cloud. One must wonder, in these economic times, why not?

Take Gmail for example. While the economic benefits of moving to Gmail from Exchange are certainly compelling, many are simply not making the shift. This is because, from the user perspective, the interface looks the same - it's still Outlook. This is not strong enough reason for many organizations to handle security and governance issues. IT might like the integrated anti-virus and anti-spam functionality, but users will only care if they believe that "priority inbox" is a must-have feature.

With over half of cloud services spending already on business applications (including collaboration platforms such as SharePoint), applications - and not reductions in CapEx and/or OpEx - will be the great drivers of cloud adoption. Why?

More and more enterprises are realizing business value as they think through what their IT operations will look like in a world of increasing cloud service leverage. Flexibility, scalability, utility-based pricing, expertise, and service orientation are just a few considerations that make the cloud highly attractive.

Where will enterprises start? The obvious is new apps that scream to be transitioned to the cloud: those that are hugely resource-intensive for short and unpredictable intervals, and require massive scalability (video processing, financial computations and large content sites). These have been, among the first, apps that have been migrated and tuned, out of necessity, to cloud services. Equally compelling is when enterprises hit the end-of-lifecycle points that require a refresh of complex legacy production applications. These applications also will likely be retooled and implemented in the cloud. Finally, the cloud is ideal for applications that start at the departmental level - driven from a business need - without IT involvement. 

Take SharePoint as another example. Many SharePoint installs start without central IT knowledge or approval, by a local admin who "just" needs a document management solution. Provisioning the same server in the cloud lowers the barrier to entry even further. Because of the leap in terms of capabilities in SharePoint 2010, in the second quarter of 2011, a majority of organizations will either start migrating to SharePoint 2010 or install it for the first time. For any SharePoint deployment that is not out-of-the-box, the cloud is ideal. 

Why? For pre-production activities, projects and people - systems integrators, engineers, IT staff, business line managers, and customers - are often distributed. As most of the SharePoint implementations are outsourced, the cloud is a great way to collaborate, without complex VPNs and travel. Complex environments need to be instantiated quickly (as in the case of customer demos or training), archived, and pulled up again at moment's notice for the next project.

Integrations involving, management, and workflow apps, connection to Active Directory and federation issues, and the need to move data back and forth quickly is not low-risk, and requires resources and time that even the largest enterprises may not have. Migrations also require storage, archiving, and related hardware and expertise needed to maintain environments may tax even the largest IT departments and data centers.

For production, the cloud offers a great way to scale environments up and down. SharePoint can be scaled easily using cloud server farms, as long as the server can be added in drag and drop fashion, using just a browser. This focuses the development effort on alignment of business needs and app, rather than infrastructure optimizations. 

SharePoint is also dynamic. There's a constantly changing release process that often requires that development occur in parallel with production. Because of the massive infrastructure required to support SharePoint 2010, this is no small feat to handle on-premise

So why not offload to the cloud to provide infrastructure and expertise, when needed, and keep complex environments up and running?

This is what 2011 will be about. For pre-production, the cloud will become the platform of choice for system integrators working on complex deployments for larger enterprises - where copies of environments can be instantiated in seconds, just by sending an email. Already, an estimated $6 billion ecosystem has evolved just around integration, using the cloud as the "sandbox" for development, testing, QA, and demos.

On the production side, hosting vendors such as Rackspace, Amazon Web Services, and dozens of smaller companies will continue to penetrate the SMB market that is loathe to invest in IT infrastructure and resources. And in a play to move upstream into pre-production and larger-scale customers, these bare metal hosting vendors will seek out cloud-based middleware partners that provide the application layer for specific business use cases.

Business top line is always stronger than bottom line. Users are more important than IT managers. The cloud is not different. This is why applications and application development would drive cloud adoption in 2011.

About the Author

Ophir Kra-Oz is co-founder and VP, Products, of CloudShare. He leads all product and R&D activities at the company. Previously, Ophir worked as a Senior Director at Check Point Software Technologies, where he managed 220 engineers in Israel, the U.S., and Belarus. He was responsible for the initiation, development and market delivery for End Point and VPN products. Prior to Check Point, he served for seven years in an elite IDF unit in various management and software development roles. Ophir is a Talpiot graduate (1994), holding a B.Sc. in Physics, Mathematics, and Computer Science from The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and an MBA from Tel-Aviv University.

Published Thursday, November 18, 2010 5:00 AM by David Marshall
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