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The State of the Cloud

Welcome to Virtualization and Beyond

The State of the Cloud

By Chris Paap, Technical Product Manager, SolarWinds

The cloud. It's perhaps today's most prominent buzzword, popping up almost everywhere-from IT-focused enterprise software marketing to Super Bowl commercials. In fact, it's become so ubiquitous that even the most non-technical user of technology can be heard batting it about it in casual conversation.

But what impact is the cloud really having on enterprise organizations' ability to manage their IT environments?

Clearing the Air

Before diving into that question, it's important that we're all on the same page as to what the cloud really is. The cloud almost always refers to one of three things:

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS provides physical and hardware infrastructure in a cloud environment. IaaS provides an IT department the flexibility to expand or contract computing resources as needed. The management of these resources is the responsibility of the IT department and hence is the most similar to traditional IT resources, other than the fact that it resides in a hosted environment.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

PaaS has the flexibility found in IaaS and takes it a step further by providing the platform and tools to build Web applications. With PaaS, there is no longer the maintenance and overhead of maintaining the infrastructure involved, and applications are built using toolsets from the cloud provider. Scalability plays a large role in PaaS in that as the number of users consuming applications expands, so can the resources to support the applications.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS expands on both IaaS and PaaS in that the cloud provider maintains and manages both the application and the infrastructure. This frees IT from managing software and hardware and all infrastructure costs associated with these, such as labor and procurement. The software is generally licensed on a subscription model, so you only use what you need.

The State of the Cloud

The cloud in its simplest form has actually been around for a while. Indeed, the private cloud is really just the traditional on-premises environment where the IT department is responsible for procurement, scaling, maintenance, and monitoring of the infrastructure and application using dedicated resources and traditional-albeit legacy-management and virtualization technologies.

Today, most enterprise and mid-sized businesses alike have adopted cloud to some degree in one of its three forms, but each organization's needs are different with different challenges to tackle. Consider that:

  • Security is still a focal point for enterprises that have concerns about placing customer and financial data on a server that is not in their control.
  • For some, cost is still a major deterrent in determining if the move to cloud is made. While the cloud has made implementation and scaling easier, sometimes the hidden cost of auto-scaling (automatically growing resources as demand increases) can hit a company hard in the pocketbook if not closely monitored.

As a result, many companies are increasingly implementing hybrid IT, deployments in which traditional on-premises infrastructure is connected to cloud-based infrastructure or applications. In fact, a recent SolarWinds survey found that 71 percent of the IT professionals who responded said they work in a hybrid IT environment.

But while alleviating the above concerns to varying degrees, hybrid IT presents its own challenges, one of the greatest of which being the management complexity surrounding resources spread across both on-premises and public cloud infrastructure, as well as managing applications in different cloud domains, such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

In conclusion, whether you're already working in a hybrid IT environment or think you may in the future (almost a foregone conclusion), you should consider ways you can start building or improving the following skills to help ensure you can tackle the challenges of and help your organization get the benefits from a hybrid IT environment:

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About the Author

Chris Paap, Technical Product Manager, SolarWinds

With 14 years of IT systems engineering experience across multiple corporate environments, Chris Paap currently serves as a technical product manager for hybrid IT performance management software provider SolarWinds, where he focuses specifically on the award-winning SolarWinds Virtualization Manager. In this role, he is responsible for defining the product roadmap and identifying key new features to solve IT problems.

Published Monday, November 23, 2015 9:49 AM by David Marshall
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