The hype around cloud shows every indication of settling down, which, if you go with the Gartner Hype Cycle model means that the trough of disillusionment is yawning before you. But you don’t have to dip into the trough, if you didn’t ride up the hype hill. The thing is, that with this particular hype cycle, IT was the brakes on the hype cycle, wanting to quickly identify what Cloud could and could not do for your organization, while the business was riding the hype up. That’s good, it will serve to smooth out the trough.
If you’re not investigating cloud, take a look at how it can improve your portfolio of offerings to the business. There are several different versions of cloud out there, ranging from app hosting to OS hosting to storage hosting, and they have been around long enough that you can now look them over and see maturity. There are documented cases of people who went to the cloud with email, data archiving, web applications… You name it. Consider what type of cloud you’re interested in and set up a pilot project. I personally prefer the OS hosting – a VM Instance – version of Cloud in conjunction with using cloud storage (through a cloud storage gateway) as a final or archival tier, but your organization is going to have specific needs, so evaluate where you can get the most value and start that pilot.
Definitely half full.
I truly dislike the existence of the hype cycle because there is a window of a year or so where those of us with experience in the trenches try to tamp down the over-enthusiasm, and then two years of trying to build enthusiasm back up. But it is a function of the current state of technology, so we run with it. Just remember that every new hype cycle is an opportunity for you to find ways the product or offering can help your organization do its daily business. And that means the glass is always half full.
Does Cloud signal significant change in your daily routine? Not likely. You will still be responsible for apps, need to worry about interconnections between those apps, security, availability (yes, you can do SLA contracts, but you need to monitor – you don’t want customers telling you about downtime), all the things you do today, it is merely where those things occur that changes. If you have a significant virtual footprint, then the changes are even less obvious, with extension of access control and other security functions being the biggest change. Well that and paying for what you use.
And Cloud Storage – assuming you have a Cloud Storage Gateway in place – is only a change in that you don’t have to constantly buy more disk. You do have to pay for what you use, so you won’t be grabbing unlimited disk space and running with it, but you do have a potentially unlimited amount of disk available, should the need arise. You’ll want someone monitoring that usage, particularly if you give users the ability to save things “to the cloud”, as that’s overhead for the organization and coming out of your budget, but in general nothing else changes after you’ve negotiated the contract. You’ll want to work the cloud storage into your infrastructure, which is easier with a product like F5’s ARX, but is not a huge overhead after initial configuration with just a straight-up Cloud Storage Gateway.
There’s still a while to go before we see how Cloud settles in for general enterprise usage, but it is certainly time to start looking at the offerings and seeing how it fits for your enterprise. If you can reduce hardware expenditures and maintain or grow services, then Cloud is a win for some uses – though security is still rightly a major concern for IT. The security concerns have convinced a lot of people that devops – wide-scale automation – is the future, because it is an enabler for internal or mixed clouds. But tackling the external cloud data access (where’s the DB?) and security issues up-front will set you up to choose Cloud when it is the right solution, and internal resources when it is not. And that’s agility.
So I’ve said it before, if you’re not already swimming, time to dip your toe into the Cloud pool, because the glass is indeed half full.