The next big wave of cloud computing may favor Software as a Service benefits over basic cloud infrastructure, at least if one professional staffing services firm has its way.
Sean Perry, chief information officer for Menlo Park, Calif.-based Robert Half International Inc., a heavy user of Amazon Web Services for cloud infrastructure, is looking to deploy more Software as a Service (SaaS) products. SearchCloudComputing caught up with him to reflect on 2013 and hear his cloud computing predictions for 2014.
What cloud computing projects did you work on this year? What were the benefits of those projects?
Sean Perry: There were three types of projects that we executed in 2013 related to the cloud.
The first type was projects that positioned systems for easier migration to the cloud in the future. These were very pragmatic projects where some type of upgrade or other work was already planned, and we took advantage of the opportunity to change the underlying technology infrastructure to support future migration to the cloud. This had incremental benefits, in that the newer technologies performed much better. [It also gave] us the opportunity to move [development and test] environments to the cloud and out of our data center.
The second type was projects that were part of our "cloud first" strategy. New applications are being delivered this way by default. These were challenging, as it's safe to say that the majority of [the] products [we purchase] are intended for on-premises implementation, and working with vendors to develop a supported infrastructure in the cloud can be challenging.
The third [was] educational projects. These are things that we did that were not strictly required, but which were intended to push the edge of what we know and what we are comfortable doing in the cloud.
What cloud computing projects are on the docket for 2014? What problems will they solve?
Perry: We are becoming more demanding on our key vendors regarding their adoption of cloud infrastructure. We are actively encouraging them to migrate their solutions into Software as a Service products rather than requiring us to deploy in an Infrastructure as a Service [IaaS] model. Even if I have to pay the IaaS bill, I'd rather their experts in the solution manage and monitor the system rather than trying to bake something ourselves.
What do you hope will happen in cloud computing in 2014?
Perry: I think there's still so much concern about security that this area needs more focus from the infrastructure providers. It's hard to underestimate just how much work goes into not only the logical components of security, but also the legal and regulatory components. It's extremely complicated to get right, and I think the cloud providers need to step up and assist their customers in meeting these requirements.