From The Expert Feature Article
June 13, 2014

Private Cloud Reigns: 11 Questions to Help You Choose the Best Vendor

By TMCnet Special Guest
Pat Patterson, Avaya Client Services

Why is demand accelerating in cloud computing deployments? We’re seeing a variety of economic forces converging with interesting results.

The thaw that we reported on a while back has materialized and is helping fuel this growth, resulting in huge demand from enterprises — large and small — for private cloud collaboration solutions.

In our 2014 trends white paper, we suggested:

“Most early cloud initiatives were tactical, focused on vetting vendor capabilities and testing discrete, non-core processes in the cloud. Now, as more businesses make capital expense (CapEx) vs. operating expense (OpEx) spending decisions, organizations that choose the cloud option — whether through a private, public, or hybrid model — will see a shift in how their IT organizations operate. IT functions will focus less on delivery and support of technology and instead spend more time as technology advisers and enablers.”

Six months later, IT dollars are moving to private cloud with support from managed services.

As you might remember, we first marked the emergence of the three clouds — public, private, and hybrid — in “Best of Both Clouds,” in February 2013.

Back then, the public cloud, led by cloud companies like Amazon Web Services (News - Alert) and DropBox, were the choice of enterprises, large and small because they could leverage simple, low risk, low cost services quickly.

In the last several months, we have seen a dramatic shift from the lowest-cost public cloud option to private cloud.

As Forrester Research (News - Alert) reported, IT managers at companies deploying private clouds said that, “accelerated access to resources for test and development” and “greater IT team efficiency,” were more important than the suggested cost savings associated with public cloud. Key activities like these are so proprietary in nature that companies do not want to risk them in a public cloud infrastructure. In addition, they can require custom solutions that are not easily accommodated in a public solution.

The great migration started in 2013 and has built considerable momentum.

No wonder.

In a 2013 KPMG International survey, more than 30 percent of global IT leaders deploying public cloud infrastructures complained about deployment costs, integration issues, data loss, and privacy risks or loss of control. Nearly one in four of those surveyed said legal and regulatory challenges of the public cloud were causing them to look into private clouds.

In fact, the momentum — whether starting with a managed service and migrating or jumping straight into private cloud — has been so great with my company’s customer base that to better align with what customers are demanding from us, our portfolio of services to meet their needs was renamed “Avaya (News - Alert) Private Cloud Services.”

IT managers want all of the cost savings of the public cloud plus the benefits of the private cloud including customization, security, and upgradeability at the individual timetables of the enterprise.

Private cloud, with managed services support enables IT to redeploy resources to core business projects which give this model several distinct business advantages over other options:

•The benefits of the OpEx model are the sweet spot for many businesses. In addition to the obvious tax and productivity benefits, OpEx means less immediate spending on infrastructure and application solutions that are outdated months after purchase. The burden of keeping a system up and running falls on the cloud provider who is providing managed services as part of the full private cloud solution. Systems can be more consistent and reliable than in the public cloud environment. Costs are fixed with utility pricing.

•Alleviates security concerns. Long a public cloud concern, private clouds operate on dedicated equipment not shared with other companies. In fact they can be hosted behind the customer’s security infrastructure. Control over who sees the company’s data, what network connections are allowed and where it is stored allows for greater compliance ease and auditing.

•Customization of the environment. As we wrote awhile back, a public cloud is shared with multiple organizations, with the promise of spreading cost. To do so effectively the environment must be relatively homogeneous, leaving limited ability to customize a public cloud to a business’s specific needs. Private cloud enables businesses to migrate from proprietary configurations to the cloud without the need for business affecting process changes. This enables faster deployments, faster enterprise app deployment, database management, and time to value for the customer.

•Simplifies transformation of the company infrastructure over time. Given the infrastructure is owned by the Private cloud provider, companies do not have to make investments in infrastructure or worry about upgrades. These are part of their service.

•Better fit for transformation over time. Private cloud options that include managed service in the offer provide more flexibility and scalability to businesses looking to expand without incurring the costs. This is due to the ability of IT to redeploy critical resources to critical business impacting projects vs. worrying about maintain existing IT & application infrastructure.

As we discussed in “Why IT Should Spend More Time Focusing on Passengers, and Less Time on the Locomotive”:

“Clouds have offered freedom never before possible. There’s no need to deploy physical resources to perform labor-intensive and repetitive tasks. The paradigm has changed. IT no longer needs to spend the majority of its time ensuring the locomotive (infrastructure) is pulling strong.

“Outsourcing, especially cloud-based outsourcing, now enables IT managers to perform value-added tasks that lead to meaningful business outcomes, in addition to anywhere, anytime, hassle-free collaboration for employees and business partners.”

While private clouds continue to surge in IT executive and director interest (because of significant benefits, like customization, predictability, resource redeployment, and stability), the burden still falls on the customer to choose the right private cloud and the right partner.

Customers comfortable with outsourced unified communications, collaboration, and contact center Software as a Service (SaaS (News - Alert)) deployments are now looking to maximize their investments by shifting costs. Choosing the right Private Cloud (with integrated managed service) partner to operate the locomotive requires that IT executives deal with several key questions they need to ask themselves:

•What is your company’s likely CapEx spend in 2014 that could be reduced if you moved to an OpEx model? 
•What are your company’s expansion plans for 2014 and 2015?
•What applications are of most importance now and in three years?
•What vendors share your vision for how these important apps should evolve?
•How is your business “future-proofed?”
•What services are most in demand by your employees and how are those goals being met?
•Have you worked with the cloud partner before? How familiar are you with their team?
•Does the cloud partner have the capital and resources to relay on them for business critical applications into 2020 and beyond?
•How easy can your cloud partner make your transition in to a cloud service?
•Does your team have deep technical expertise that can scale as necessary and can follow you around the globe? If not this can be a key benefit of a private cloud solution, if so then can you redeploy them to higher business impacting projects 
•How is your cloud service partner at anticipating your future needs in 3 to 5 years?

Has your company made the migration to private cloud?   If so, then what is your advice? Let us know in the comments below!  Follow me at @Pat_PattersonV

Pat Patterson is Director of Services Marketing for Avaya, overseeing marketing strategy and execution for Avaya’s global portfolio of Support, Managed, and Outsourcing services.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi