In working with thousands of clients, IBM has established that businesses and the world at large have become more interconnected and certainly more intelligent. Just to toss out a few factoids – data is growing at 6 trillion bytes per second, IP traffic will accelerate in 3 years to over a trillion gigabytes, and as of 2010, there were an estimated 30B RFID tags across the global ecosystem. Almost 162 million smart phones were sold in 2008, surpassing laptop sales for the first time. Soon there will be one trillion connected devices in the world, constituting an “Internet of things.” This environment provides both the individual and the organization the opportunity to adapt their thinking and actions to address the challenges of the new world.
This is where Cloud Computing comes in. Cloud has come a long way in the last few years. From being an exotic, non-mainstream idea, based mainly on public clouds for shared usage, organizations have reacted strongly and positively. Over 70% of enterprises have said that they are already using the cloud or plan to do so in the next 12 months. Why? Because technology has matured to the point where things can be done that could not be done before. This is allowing many organizations to explore new business models.
The cloud has been a catalyst for a discussion around the transformation of IT and further alignment to business. How far has cloud come in the last three years? Consider the following elements:
- The debate on whether cloud can be used in an organization is settled. Enterprises now consider cloud computing as something they are doing or will do soon. The focus now is on what kinds of business and IT problems are best solved on the cloud and on where it makes sense to move services into the cloud.
- Clouds are now seen as an element of a transformative process. Organizations spend time looking at their business processes and deciding which ones to change for competitive advantage as they move into the cloud. More efficient workflows that incorporate “outsiders,” such as customers, contractors, and suppliers can be created.
- Cloud adoption begins with applications and workloads. Where legacy applications were previously seen as a barrier to cloud adoption, they can now be enhanced through extended capabilities and business process improvement. The ability to allow outside partners to connect to a legacy application via the cloud is an important consideration.
- Developing a flexible enterprise IT architecture in the cloud era is a key task requiring very special talents. It requires the convergence of many disciplines including IT resource virtualization, ITIL based service management processes, and business support services across the range of delivery models of cloud – private, public and hybrid.
- The basics still apply. Organizations must consider how to deliver on service level agreements (SLA’s), how to handle business continuity and resiliency, how to handle security, including data privacy, regulations and compliance and overall governance in the cloud. IT will also have to negotiate with the cloud provider to make sure they get the service levels agreements needed to deliver secure and reliable services to their end-users.
- Implementing a secure cloud is possible, requiring a plan, and then crisp execution. Organizations should first look at their unique cloud workloads, and engage the appropriate security requirements based on their needs and culture. This approach allows the organization to aggregate or blend the appropriate assets into a solution package that aligns with their needs to realize security in the cloud.
The capability of cloud has to be put into context as it represents both an opportunity and a challenge for any organization. Cloud is not a “one size fits all” solution, nor a panacea. Cloud has to execute within an organization’s business boundaries. Every CIO needs to understand where cloud fits into their organization, and where it will help them extend their business strategy. Some organizations are moving into the cloud because of the economic benefits it can deliver in terms of reduced costs and added capabilities. Others see the cloud as a way to create new business services that can be taken to market – faster.
Organizations have a number of options with cloud. IBM along with dozens of other vendors offers both private clouds of many sizes, which are customized to solve particular customer solutions, as well as a variety of public clouds. Private clouds offer the economy and efficiency of the cloud while enabling the build and manage of secure delivery environments and integration into existing legacy applications. Public clouds offer those features, plus the ability to quickly expand the number of instances or their size by taking advantage of the greater elasticity of the public cloud.
What cloud is doing though, is changing the way everyone consumes IT, it is putting power in the hands of the end user. IT bridges the two worlds, connecting IT and the business end user in a way that makes sense to both sides. This changes the conversation to innovating new applications and services with increased agility and faster time to value. This will require a remix of the skills in IT to enable an effective move into cloud. But this also opens up the possibilities of creating whole new sets of applications that are more collaborative, more data-intensive, more available, more networked, and easier to use. At IBM, we like to think that Cloud allows organizations to – “Rethink IT and Reinvent Business”.
The IBM team, over the next several weeks, will use this blog to explore in depth a number of the topics touched upon above – from standards, security, and hybrid clouds, to the deployment and delivery models available to organizations. We look forward to hearing from you!