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Q&A: Interview with Neovise, Talking About new Research on Cloud Computing

Neovise, an independent IT research firm focused on cloud computing, just unveiled its latest research report which evaluates the use of public, private and hybrid cloud computing by U.S. based organizations. The research was sponsored by Virtustream, a fast-growing company that offers enterprise-class cloud software and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). You can get a copy of the report on the Virtustream site here.

To get the inside scoop, I connected with Paul Burns, president and founder of Neovise.

VMblog: Can you give a bit more background on this research?

Paul Burns: Certainly. During February and March 2013, Neovise surveyed 161 U.S. based IT decision makers on the actual experiences their organizations have had with public, private and hybrid infrastructure-as- a-service (IaaS) clouds. These organizations range in size from less than 100 employees to more than 20,000. They also represent a broad range of industry verticals, including finance and insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, professional services and many others.

As part of the research process, we screened over 800 IT leaders and decisions makers, finding that just more than half of these organizations are already using public or private clouds. So, on the one hand, adoption of IaaS clouds has passed the 50% barrier, demonstrating solid adoption.  On the other hand, the maturity and depth of use of IaaS clouds still has a way to go.

VMblog: What sort of gaps did you see in terms of maturity and depth of IaaS usage?

Burns: Let me start with just a bit more background. It turns out that the majority of organizations using IaaS clouds are using more than one - and often more than one cloud of the same type. For example, if they use a private cloud they may also use a public cloud, or they may use two public clouds or two private clouds. This is leading to a new form of sprawl - cloud sprawl. Similar to VM sprawl, it gets hard to manage and maintain all these environments. This multi-cloud world is firmly entrenched.  Most organizations, particularly among larger organizations, can't get by with just one cloud. So, they'll need to get better at managing them. This includes putting the right applications on the right clouds.

VMblog: Did you come across any other challenges along those lines?

Burns: Yes. It turns out there is a pecking order in how different types of clouds are used. Private clouds are used most intensively.  They are chosen more often to run all types of applications from analytics and big data to relational databases and mission critical applications. Private clouds are even used more often for elastic, scale-out applications. The good news is that so many organizations are getting more comfortable with private clouds. Where the maturity needs to happen - and this will come with time - is with greater use of public clouds.  Hybrid clouds are even further back in terms of the number and types of applications run on them.

VMblog: Did the research reveal anything surprising or controversial?

Burns: I think you could say that. One of the great debates in the public cloud world has been about whether the underlying infrastructure should be built with commodity or enterprise-class components. A strong majority of cloud users feel that the quality or grade of these components is important. I think that is a significant step in resolving that controversy. It is also why you see companies like Virtustream, the research of this research, focusing on enterprise-class offerings and meeting with great success.  Commodity clouds still make sense, but those saying commodity clouds are the only answer will miss out on much of the opportunity of supporting existing enterprise applications.

Related to this, we looked at how many organizations are using IaaS clouds for elastic, scale-out applications - a type of application for which commodity clouds can be a great match. Economic analysis indicates that one of the greatest potential benefits of cloud computing stems from elasticity. Yet less than half of cloud users have deployed elastic applications of any kind.

VMblog: Does this indicate that commodity clouds are fundamentally flawed?

Burns: No, not at all. Amazon remains the market gorilla and is built on commodity infrastructure. That is not about to change and there are other public clouds succeeding with the commodity approach as well.  However, as the industry continues to mature, we are seeing cloud users express desires that are not best met in commodity clouds. Enterprise-class cloud providers are responding and giving capabilities such as higher levels of security, higher-grade infrastructure, higher levels of performance and more. The IaaS market will support both commodity and enterprise-class clouds.  It is also likely to support other more specialized cloud types, such as high performance computing (HPC) clouds that are still emerging.

VMblog: Do you have any advice to cloud users based on this research?

Burns: Try to keep a balance. Different types of cloud are available for different types of applications. So it makes sense to match application requirements to the right type of cloud. However, since that naturally leads to multiple clouds, try to keep cloud sprawl under control. Try to keep a balance between the number of clouds you use and the number you need. Clouds are meant for sharing and should meet the needs of an entire class of applications across an entire organization. They should not be overly customized or dedicated to a single department without very good reason.


Thanks again to Paul Burns, president and founder of Neovise, for walking through some of the key research results.
Published Tuesday, April 16, 2013 12:15 PM by David Marshall
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