Is the Cloud for You?

Is the Cloud for You?

By Rachel Ramsey

The cloud enables companies to deliver business value. Scalability, flexibility, low cost and reliability are core reasons why cloud adoption has become so popular. However, in a recent panel session at ITEXPO Miami, we learned that the cloud may not always be the answer.

According to Lisa Pierce, managing vice president, Unified Communications, Network Systems and Services Research Team at Gartner, it’s important to look at what you require and need specifically from the cloud. If the cloud doesn’t offer a solution to the challenges your business faces, it’s not the answer you are looking for. If you’ve decided that the cloud is the way to go, there are some things to consider. Pierce says that regardless of the level of functionality of a cloud system, at a bare minimum, any cloud service should offer high scalability in near real-time, automation to reduce costs and human error, high elasticity and usage-based billing.

Joining Pierce in the panel session, “Battle for the Cloud: The Future of Cloud Computing,” were Skip Chilcott, senior product marketing manager at Microsoft, Mike McCarthy, vice president of cloud computing services at IBM, Peder Ulander, VP of product marketing at Citrix, Kiran Bellare, director of product marketing at HP and Roberto D. De La Mora, senior director, unified communications at Cisco Systems.

Ulander talked about the different elements that have been defined as cloud computing – the IT as a Service models. Chilcott said SaaS is the most widely adopted and fastest-growing service, ranging anywhere from CRM to unified communications, all focused on the end-user.

According to Ulander, there is an assumption that there is value to the cloud. If you’re looking for speed, ask yourself, will the cloud deliver it faster? Understanding what you are looking for and need is key to when it comes to cloud adoption. Bellare noted there are three main drivers for cloud adoption: time-to-market, total cost ownership and elastic scalability.

McCarthy emphasized that that while there are some apps that may make sense for the cloud now or in a few months, there are some that will never make sense. Evaluating what fits for your security, compliance, networking and infrastructure architecture needs is an important step to determine if the cloud is the right solution for your needs.

One key element of the cloud to consider is security. Pierce revealed that out of the number of companies turning to the cloud, only about 50 percent are asking, “How do I secure all of those endpoints?” McCarthy explains that security has to be a partnership between application providers and infrastructure providers.

Ulander emphasizes that recognizing risk and conducting analysis in deploying any type of application in the cloud is crucial. The key is to understand the different deployment models and choosing one that fits your specific needs. Businesses need to recognize that the cloud isn’t replacing everything you have, it’s just “another tool with your IT arsenal.”

Another important relationship is between businesses and their IT departments. According to Chilcott, the most successful cloud deployments in customer satisfaction are where the relationship between IT and business is strong to begin with. Understanding what your business goals are and building a collaborative relationship with IT helps educate users about what’s available to them, ensuring a quality customer experience.

The panel also focused on the future of IT; Pierce noted that what it means to be in IT is changing, and “we have to get on board with it.” In regard to the cloud, IT is transforming into a competitive weapon, offering more opportunities for low-cost investment with high impact to the customer. Some apps will migrate to the cloud and some will continue to run on traditional infrastructure. The goal is to help the customer by providing a seamless transition between those.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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