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Embotics Predictions: Cure for Cloud Fatigue - Prescription for 2013

VMblog Predictions

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2013.  Read them in this series exclusive.

Contributed article by Colin Jack, lead systems engineer, Embotics

Cure for Cloud Fatigue: Prescription for 2013

In the New Year, cloud computing will continue to dominate industry discussions, and this question will weigh on IT leaders: Is your company desensitized when it comes to the viral marketing term "cloud"?

  • Do you despise most vendors, some analysts and all marketing folks?
  • Are you tired of companies placing "cloud" into their product names or conveniently placing letters before or after the word "cloud"?
  • Are you tired of sifting through pages of cloud rubbish with no idea what a product actually does?
  • Are you tired of false promises made by vendors and manufacturers?

If so, you are probably experiencing cloud fatigue. Cloud fatigue is the onset of conditions often associated with cloud market hype, exaggerated benefits and unfulfilled promises with a deep sense of, "this is yesterday's news; aren't we over it yet?" All the various acronyms with "as-a-service" in them - such as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) - leave end users and IT departments perplexed about what to use and how to manage these cloud-based offerings. The good news is you are not alone. With a little preparation, you too can embrace cloud computing and emerging trends without getting a bad case of cloud fatigue.

Cloud computing has evolved and matured in the past three years, but it certainly isn't a new trend. Some scholars say that cloud computing's roots go all the way back to the 1950's, when scientist Herb Grosch postulated that the entire world would operate on terminals powered by about 15 large data centers. We aren't there yet, but when you consider these likely 2013 trends, we may be headed in that direction:
  • Onset of cloud fatigue (the perception that cloud computing is taking over the world);
  • Transformation from using computers and infrastructure to consuming services and applications;
  • Commoditization of the hypervisor and the portability of workloads;
  • Continued adoption of private clouds (shared resources, elastic provisioning, utility-type consumption and management platforms); and
  • Migration of workloads to public and hybrid clouds (the illusion of infinite supply).

Today's realities, technologies and applications can simultaneously enable and inhibit cloud fatigue. As with any condition, it is important to diagnose the extent of the disease and its causes, and to consult experts who can prescribe guidance on prevention and treatment. A cloud readiness questionnaire will help you to diagnose your company's cloud readiness and cloud management capabilities and determine where your company lands on the cloud computing maturity model. Then you will be able to begin your fight against cloud fatigue and its associated threats by determining how your company fits into the following cloud computing trends.  

Trend 1: Cloud computing is taking over the world.

Cloud computing isn't taking over the world; the world is just evolving in how it consumes applications and services and takes advantage of cloud computing. You have probably already embraced cloud computing on your smartphone, so isn't it time for corporate IT to leverage the cloud's design goals and principles?  Find out how mature your IT organization is in its delivery of cloud-based applications and private cloud management services, and don't worry about the cloud-fatigued marketing folks; they will be fine.

Trend 2: Applications continue to drive infrastructure and platform adoption.

By most measures, the operating system (OS)/virtual machine (VM) has become a commodity with the application becoming the secret sauce, while the hypervisor and cloud computing remain strategic enablers. Applications will continue to drive the build out of infrastructure and platform adoption, while data center management strategies fixated on deploying and managing VMs will become absolute. No longer will organizations build out data centers blindly and then deploy applications. Business units will increasingly demand specialty applications that will force IT to evaluate the necessary infrastructure to support those services. Responsive IT groups will evaluate both internal resources (traditional data centers, adoption of private clouds) against external providers (SaaS and hybrid/public cloud providers) and make an informed decision based on performances, service level agreements, cost models and security and regulatory considerations. 

Trend 3: IT adopts multiple hypervisors.

Enterprises will get serious about a multi-hypervisor strategy in 2013, as the commoditization of the hypervisor comes to pass. Financial incentives (expiration of VMware enterprise license agreements) combined with technically viable alternatives (Microsoft Hyper-V, Linux Kernel-based virtual machines and Citrix) will help beachhead adoptions and architectural strategies that span beyond VMware. While initial adoptions of Hyper-V may be limited to non-mission-critical workloads, they will provide Microsoft with the proving ground to demonstrate a cheaper, vendor-friendly alternative whose adoption could mimic Windows NT4, Active Directory, Exchange and SharePoint. Could VMware become the next Netscape? No, but it has the potential to become the next Novell.

Trend 4:  Private cloud adoption continues to accelerate.

In a recent research report published by Information Week, 67 percent of organizations surveyed said they are using or considering private clouds, while 73 percent report data center demands will increase over last year. The prognosis of increased demand can only be handled through improvements in people, processes and technology. Private cloud adoption will continue to serve as a strategic enabler in the delivery of IT services to end users in a highly automated and optimized fashion. Delivery times for provisioning services are frequently reduced from days to hours, while integrated cost models lay the foundation for curbing consumption and comparison shopping. Chief information officers who deliver and effectively manage private clouds with integrated cost models can now evaluate internal services against external providers. This approach will undoubtedly yield improvements in service; even if it doesn't, it will provide the financial analysis to make informed decisions. While security, latency and regulatory concerns will remain inhibitors in public cloud adoption, self-service provisioning, automation of routine tasks and better stewardship over resources remain drivers beyond private cloud adoption. 

Trend 5: Increased workloads move to hybrid and public clouds.  

In terms of cloud models, it is becoming clear that organizations won't adopt a single cloud deployment model, but will opt for a combination of various cloud services. The percentage of development/quality assurance workloads migrating to the cloud will continue to increase, while compliance, security, performance and cost visibility will continue to be limiting factors in moving production workloads. Map anticipated benefits for each workload against the associated risks and pay particular attention to the fully loaded cost of moving and managing a workload in the cloud. Most providers will make it easy to migrate to them but will deploy tactics to keep workloads under their management. Establish security, management and governance models to coordinate the use of internal and external services to minimize the risk of shadow IT moving beyond your corporate firewall. The ability to effectively manage workloads across cloud instances and automate the migration of workloads based on SLAs, performance and cost will ensure a successful augmentation of private resources with public computing while avoiding delusional dreams of cloud nirvana. 

The coming year will be a tipping point for cloud computing. In 2013, the cloud's benefits will clearly outweigh any symptoms of cloud fatigue for organizations that embrace insight, prescription and guidance. Transforming the traditional data center into a service-centric modern data center will require planning, commitment and execution. Before moving workloads beyond corporate firewalls, evaluate the feasibility and costs associated with private clouds and the manageability of these clouds. If you cannot establish governance policies for hosting internal workloads, the problem will only be magnified when you move workloads to public clouds. Most importantly, shrug off all the vendor hype around cloud computing and focus on implementing solutions and services that work simply - and simply work. If you cannot see it, get your hands on it and evaluate it through a proof of concept, trial or other method, then you will know to send the solution, the vendor and the marketing team packing. 


About the Author

Colin Jack is the lead systems engineer at Embotics Corporation. He oversees cloud management educational efforts at local VMUGs and other customer events. Previously, Colin was the IT manager and systems administrator for a number of technology and telecommunication firms.

Published Tuesday, December 04, 2012 6:20 AM by David Marshall
Comments - Virtualization Technology News and Information for Everyone - (Author's Link) - January 15, 2013 7:00 AM

First, I'd like to personally thank everyone for being a valued member and reader of VMblog! Once again, with the help of each of you, VMblog has been able to remain one of the oldest and most successful virtualization and cloud news sites on the Web

Embotics | How clear is your view into economics of the cloud? - (Author's Link) - May 22, 2013 10:26 AM
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