Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cloud Computing : Challenges and Considerations

Part -2, The industry shift towards cloud computing



Continual monitoring of cloud computing trends, with regular updates to the enterprise's cloud strategy, will be essential to avoid costly mistakes or miss market opportunities over the next few years, according to Gartner, Inc. Although the potential for cloud computing is significant, the breadth and depth of the impact, as well as the level of adoption over time, are uncertain and will require frequent review. "The trend and related technologies continue to evolve and change rapidly, and there is continuing confusion and misunderstanding as vendors increasingly hype 'cloud' as a marketing term," said David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow.



A astigmatic view around the adoption of cloud/SaaS models can clearly have an adverse impact on an organization’s decision-making capability in the long run. Organizations moving their applications from an in-house to a hosted cloud model must pay adequate attention to the information management practices of the hosting provider. Some of the key points organizations need to address include


• The service provider’s strategy for data governance across the enterprise as well as the cloud and SaaS applications
• The compatibility of the cloud/SaaS information model and the organization’s information model
• The application provider’s security strategy
• The Service provider’s integration strategies and its adherence to in-house integration standards
• Enterprise information standards.

Professional digest enlist you the strategic consideration which organizations has to follow while planning for Cloud service.

Existing organization assets and infra integration

All organization will possess their own infrastructures, applications and process. The organizations have to asses and find out solution on how the internal systems can integrate with the cloud service. The considerations should cover the ROI, usability, maintainability and technology. Recently a well known retailer outsourced its application hosting to cloud providers. They forced to bring its ecommerce application back in-house when it faced integration challenges between its enterprise applications and the e-commerce application. This resulted in inconsistent product pricing, undelivered orders and so on. The reason is the incompatibility of the core information objects across the landscape created the inefficient processes.

Security

Clearly, isolating customers from one another is, or should be, a major concern for cloud providers. Neither data from one customer should be exposed to any other, nor should one customer's behavior affect another. With traditional outsourcing, isolation is achieved by maintaining dedicated physical infrastructure—separate production lines at a contract manufacturer, for instance—for each customer and by wiping clean all shared computers (such as workstations storing customer designs) before reuse.

To plug known security holes, cloud providers sometimes offer add-on services. For instance, Amazon Virtual Private Cloud allows the customer to specify a set of virtual machines that may communicate only through an encrypted virtual private network. EC2 also allows its users to define security groups, which operate like firewalls to control the incoming connections to a virtual machine.
If businesses are still concerned with data protection, they can always choose a private cloud: an infrastructure operated solely for a single organization. “That way access can be restricted to whatever level is required by the business, and encryption helps create even greater security. The decision making points are volume of sensitive data, and its cost of maintaining private infrastructure. Organizations can also consider keeping the sensitive data in house and moving the rest to cloud based service.

Reliability

Local backup of important content on a regular basis can help reduce this problem. Also, some may want to keep sensitive and frequently accessed content on their devices to make sure they can access it anytime. All cloud service providers are giving the backup and DR facilities as a default or as a value added service. Apart from that the organization can consider taking back up and its restorations for the sensitive/ critical data. The influencers are cost and the data sensitivity. Organizations have to establish adequate SLAs to ensure the expected reliability with the service provider.

Process

The cloud service providers have their own standards and process which are forced to the organizations to follow. Organization availing services will not have much control on the enforced process and they are supposed follow the same. Each organization will have its own regulatory and compliance specific requirements. Before selecting the cloud service provider, organizations has to do the vendor audit and ensure that the service provider’s process will not conflict with the internal regulatory/compliance requirements. We have to consider this as well when we establish SLAs. It also mandates organizations to create and modify new process in order to align with service provider’s process.

Portability

As Apple, Amazon, Google, and other companies race to offer cloud-based systems for storage, synchronization, and all sorts of applications, they’re encountering several pitfalls along the way. As more companies, government agencies, and consumers adopt cloud technologies, they’re encountering turbulence along the way. The not-unexpected hurdles include a plethora of file formats, applications that fail to operate with each other, and the inability to move data from one cloud-service vendor to another. Organization has to consider cloud portability and inter​­operability. At any point of time, organizations should be able to switch the cloud service provider and we will find it challenging unless we consider it while selecting the service provider initially. The detailed standards are evolving to ensure portability and IEEE formed a active working group for the same.

Trends That Will Affect Cloud Strategy Through 2015

Gartner has identified five cloud computing subtrends that will be accelerating, shifting or reaching a tipping point over the next three years and that users must factor into their planning processes.

Formal Decision Frameworks Facilitate Cloud Investment Optimization

The cloud promises to deliver a range of benefits, including a shift from capital-intensive to operational cost models, lower overall cost, greater agility and reduced complexity. It can also be used to shift the focus of IT resources to higher-value-added activities for the business, or to support business innovation and, potentially, lower risks. However, these prospective benefits need to be examined carefully and mapped against a number of challenges, including security, lack of transparency, concerns about performance and availability, the potential for vendor lock-in, licensing constraints and integration needs. These issues create a complex environment in which to evaluate individual cloud offerings.

Hybrid Cloud Computing Is an Imperative

Hybrid computing refers to the coordination and combination of external cloud computing services (public or private) and internal infrastructure or application services. Over time, hybrid cloud computing could lead to a unified model in which there is a single "cloud" made up of multiple cloud platforms (internal or external) that can be used, as needed, based on changing business requirements. Gartner recommends that enterprises focus near-term efforts on application and data integration, linking fixed internal and external applications with a hybrid solution. Where public cloud application services or custom applications running on public cloud infrastructures are used, guidelines and standards should be established for how these elements will combine with internal systems to form a hybrid environment.

Cloud Brokerage Will Facilitate Cloud Consumption


As cloud computing adoption proliferates, so does the need for consumption assistance. A cloud services brokerage (CSB) is a service provider that plays an intermediary role in cloud computing. Interest in the CSB concept increased last year, and Gartner expects this trend to accelerate over the next three years as more individuals, whether they are in IT or a line-of-business unit, consume cloud services without involving IT.
To address this challenge, Gartner believes that IT departments should explore how they can position themselves as CSBs to the enterprise by establishing a purchasing process that accommodates cloud adoption and encourages business units to come to the IT organization for advice and support. The enterprise CSB approach can be implemented by modifying existing processes and tools such as internal portals and service catalogs.

Cloud-Centric Design Becomes a Necessity

Many organizations look first for opportunities to migrate existing enterprise workloads to a cloud system and/or an application infrastructure. This approach may provide benefits where the workload has a highly variable resource requirement, or where the application naturally lends itself to horizontal scalability. However, to fully exploit the potential of a cloud model, applications need to be designed with the unique characteristics, limitations and opportunities of a cloud model in mind. Gartner advises enterprises to look beyond the migration of enterprise workloads to the creation of cloud-optimized applications that fully exploit the potential of the cloud to deliver global-class applications.

Cloud Computing Influences Future Data Center and Operational Models

In public cloud computing, an enterprise is acting as a consumer of services, with the cloud services provider handling the implementation details, including the data center and related operational models. However, to the extent that the enterprise continues to build its own data centers, they will be influenced by the implementation models used by cloud services providers. Gartner recommends that enterprises apply the concepts of cloud computing to future data center and infrastructure investments to increase agility and efficiency.

Additional information is available in the Gartner report "Five Cloud Computing Trends That Will Affect Your Cloud Strategy Through 2015." The report is available on Gartner's website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=1920517.

Conclusion

As the adoption of cloud/SaaS-based applications increases, every buyer needs to understand the impact of these applications on the enterprise information landscape. The emergence of cloud services to address specific business processes/functions clearly shows the target market for such applications is moving away from the CIO’s office to the lines of business. While cloud-based services provide the flexibility and agility to meet business needs, the buyer needs to ask his/her solution provider the tough questions around both its information management processes and its ability to integrate its applications with an enterprise information architecture within the enterprise firewall. Every buyer must clearly articulate the impact of the cloud service on the organization’s information management processes and account for investments to align the new application with the organizations goals and objectives


1 comment:

  1. informative.. looking forward to next article in this series..

    ReplyDelete