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15 May 2014 | 0

This time it’s different!
“Cloud based computing is a radically different approach which offers a practically infinite source of seamlessly integrated solutions and services” Commtech : Gerry Harvey
Previous IT “transformation” initiatives like outsourcing were driven by cost saving — the idea was to do the same only outsourced. Cloud based computing is a radically different approach which offers a practically infinite source of seamlessly integrated solutions and services sharing virtual business ecosystems beyond any particular enterprise.The demand for innovative productivity enhancing apps far outweighs traditional barriers to IT delivery such as user control by administrators and limitations on access and feature restrictions. In fact talking about the cloud as something separate from the business is rather like separating finances from the business. After mainframe the 1st platform, and the client server second platform, the third platform is that ecosystem comprising millions of applications accessed by billions of users.Enterprise cloud services cross the entire spectrum of “everything as a service”…infrastructure and applications. It’s no longer simply about BYOD. We’ve moved on to easy-to-use, anytime, anywhere access to business and personal applications as well as data from mobile devices — personally owned or corporate-issued.The freedom of mobility and telecommuting by tech savvy users with a diverse range of preferred mobile devices who have high expectations when it comes to the quality of their user experience is driving the evolution to the cloud. The end uses attraction far out weights the resistance of traditional IT to control and dominate how IT is made ready for end user consumption.
Cloud reticence
“Enterprise cloud reticence comes from the practical complexities of changing to a cloud paradigm as well as the negative perceptions about what the cloud is and is not, supported by internal and external detractors”
Viatel : Kevin Hickey
At this point, it is undeniable that the ‘Cloud’ is the next big thing in technology but to date, enterprises have only scratched the surface in relation to its wholesale adoption. No doubt there is huge interest from enterprises in cloud services but the reticence in its wholesale adoption is inextricably linked to the very nature of enterprises. The reticence and the link to the nature of enterprises are the key opportunities that cloud providers are looking to take advantage of and will ultimately define how cloud services are shaped in the future.So what are the general defining traits of an Enterprise in this context?
– Risk Averse
– Low agility in relation to smaller companies and start-ups
– Security conscious
– High degree of governance
– Well established processes and procedures
– Enterprise level systems (legacy and contemporary)
– Current investment in infrastructure
– Regulation, compliance, best practice and standards focus
– Organisational challenges to change (staff, unions)
– Multi-year contracts with suppliers/vendorsThe reticence mentioned comes from the practical complexities of changing to a cloud paradigm as well as the negative perceptions about what the cloud is and is not, supported by internal and external detractors.
Perceptions are changing as more and more of the early adopters and risk takers create tremendous business value. As with all new technologies the trailblazers generate demand which places an emphasis on standards and security — being the main obstacles to mass adoption. As standards and best practices are released Enterprises start on the path to adoption. We are arguably at this stage now with providers now shaping their services to cater for the enterprise market.Cloud providers are shaping their services to address the major concerns that Enterprises have with the Cloud at present, these include:
– Security and data sovereignty
– Governance
– Auditing
– Regulation and compliance with standards (PCI-DSS, HIPAA, SOC etc.)
– Vendor lock in
– Reliability and performance (hardware, software, network)
– Cost controls and multi-level role access
– Secure offsite backup and failover
– Legacy system integration
– Availability of hybrid cloud systems to enable a gradual transition into full cloud adoption
– Native movement of currently virtualised workloads to external clouds
The benefits of a cloud environment are well documented and demand from enterprise continues to push almost all technology providers towards enterprise-grade, cloud-enabled solutions.
The enterprise nut is slowly being cracked by providers that are combining a plethora of interconnected services that address a proportion of the list of concerns that enterprises have. Lower risk business cloud services are already well adopted in enterprises (e.g. Email, CRM, Desktop as a Service) as are services that are only made possible in a Cloud/Grid environment without huge financial investment in hardware e.g. molecular compound analysis by pharmaceuticals. The true evidence of the paradigm shift will be as it was with the transition from the mainframe to the client/server model in the widespread placement of core business functions into the cloud.
While there are cloud solutions to address most if not all enterprise concerns, these exist in isolation to each other for the most part which adds risk and complexity to enterprises looking for a total solution. Cloud service providers are faced with developing systems and procedures to combine multiple disparate services that must work seamlessly together to create a desired solution for enterprises.

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