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Enterprise IT cloud wish list for 2012

Enterprises have some wishes for the cloud for 2012. They’d like price cuts, cloud security standards and realistic coverage of the market.

For the past two years, enterprises have been asking themselves one of the most important questions in IT: “What role can cloud computing play in my business?” While most enterprises believe they’ve come to better understand cloud, few can confidently answer the question of its role.

With surveys showing that enterprises have rejected more cloud installments than they’ve accepted, it seems that more IT admins can more easily explain what cloud can’t do.

It’s not that enterprises want the cloud to fail; evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. However, cloud hasn’t met expectations in several areas and enterprises still don’t have all the answers they need.

It’s not that enterprises want the cloud to fail; evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. However, cloud hasn’t met expectations in several areas and enterprises still don’t have all the answers they need.

So, what are enterprises missing from the cloud? This cloud wish list outlines the top five features cloud computing needs to succeed.

1. Cost-effective strategy for mass storage
The high cost of hosting a core repository in the cloud has been the largest barrier to cloud adoption. On the other hand, departmental-level server deployment exploded in the past five years because of low storage costs -- $100 buys 2 GB. Though the price for enterprise-grade storage is five times that or more, cloud storage costs 10 to 30 times as much. Until cloud storage prices drop to match enterprise-grade storage, the majority of enterprises will stay away from mass storage in the cloud.

2. Seamless, holistic methods for hierarchical storage 
There are already multiple technology options for storing data in the data center -- in-memory, flash drives and rotating media. Cloud adds another layer, and if we presume that cloud storage will develop price and performance tiers, it could add two more layers. To control the migration of data between layers, cloud planners want a virtual storage map for on-premises and cloud storage that’s based on policies for access efficiency, price and availability.

3. Standard set of management APIs for SaaS, PaaS and Iaas
Technologists familiar with network and device management know that each class of network device has a basic management information base (MIB) that can be extended for special devices or vendor features. They’d like the same for the cloud; basic problem determination and management standards across multiple providers and cloud models -- Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

4. Comprehensive and auditable way to manage cloud security
Most enterprises don’t name security as the primary barrier to cloud adoption; cost holds that position. But all will agree that where costs permit cloudsourcing, security issues are a major headache. Steps toward government certifications for cloud data security are helpful but not definitive, particularly in the private sector.

A major underlying problem with cloud projects may stem from enterprises’ misconceptions and false expectations of the technology’s benefits.

Enterprises need an audit practice that would verify risk levels and validate protection methods. Some providers offer these capabilities, but enterprises are lukewarm on the state of the security-management space overall. If and when cost issues are resolved for the cloud, security will be the next major hurdle.

5. Realistic coverage of the cloud market, with accurate data on costs and benefits
A major underlying problem with cloud projects may stem from enterprises’ misconceptions and false expectations of the technology’s benefits. Senior operations management, conditioned by claims that the cloud will save money as a large-scale replacement for internal IT, have pushed cloud adoption to applications for which there are no proven benefits. IT admins expressing doubt about market claims have been ignored. It would be extremely helpful, cloud professionals say, if senior management launched cloud projects with a true sense of the benefits and downsides.

A cloud wish list isn’t as discouraging as it may seem. In fact, it’s a hopeful sign for cloud adoption. With any new technology there’s initial confusion on where, when and how to apply it to meet business return-on-investment goals. Any pilot project will create real issues; every market depends on a harmony of value between buyers and sellers. These five cloud wishes are key to achieving cloud harmony in the enterprise.

 

Tom Nolle is president of CIMI Corporation, a strategic consulting firm specializing in telecommunications and data communications since 1982.

This was last published in January 2012

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