Is the Cloud There Yet?


Is the Cloud There Yet?

By Erin Harrison, Executive Editor, Cloud Computing  |  January 25, 2013

This article originally appeared in the Q1 -2013 edition of Cloud Computing Magazine.

Cloud computing has come a long way in the past few years in terms of acceptance and implementation, however as 2013 kicks off, the barriers toward adoption – namely security and integration – still plague CIOs considering shifting to cloud-based technologies and services.

In fact, more than half (53 percent) of decision makers surveyed in a recent Trend Micro (News - Alert) study said that data security was a key factor in their decision to put the brakes on cloud adoption.

However, perhaps even more than security, reliability, integration with existing systems and flexibility to change and customize the solution remain general concerns in the minds of buyers, which are being progressively addressed, according to Ross Sedgewick, vice president of global solutions marketing at Siemens Enterprise (News - Alert) Communications.

“Beyond that, a general awareness of the capabilities, fit and value proposition of the cloud will continue to take some time to mature,” he says. “There are companies and environments that are not appropriate for a public environment and will always require single tenant infrastructure – fortunately on-premise and hosted private cloud options are readily available now and provide all the benefits of public cloud.”

Meanwhile, Brian Donaghy, CEO of Appcore, predicts mass adoption will grow with the build out of local cloud networks globally this year.

“Telcos, carriers, and ISPs have trust and proximity relationships with their users and are now implementing local cloud resources on those trusted networks,” Donaghy told Cloud Computing. “Software developers have leveraged public cloud options to their advantage of the last couple years, and are inherently early adopters. There is also a continuum of understanding the benefits of orchestrated infrastructure for the non-software developing companies, including the advantages of private cloud on premise.”

Donaghy says vendors can continue to educate their customers about cost benefits of orchestrated cloud – especially as it relates to their higher end system admins and programmers.

“Cloud can provide automation that frees IT personnel from mundane tasks,” he explains. “Solutions sets and migration paths that are simply to understand and implement, such as DR, are great places to get started in either a public or private cloud environment.”

But the greatest risk to customers, both large and small, is assuming that cloud solutions are the only way to go – realistically, flexible deployment options is the discussion that should be visited first, according to Sedgewick.

The criticisms surrounding cloud-based services differ among senior-level decision makers at large enterprises versus small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), but they share a common denominator in their views on service level agreements (SLAs). In the New Year, vendors will be driven to better distinguish their services, adds Donaghy.

“As it relates to service level agreements and utility grade compute services, we will see service providers better distinguish their services based on quality. Not all clouds are created equal,” he says. “There are commodity environments where IOPS and failure rates are less important and then there are utility grade enterprise environments that are mission critical. Both environments can provide pay-as-you-go, self-service and scalability – but provide different quality SLAs and pricing.”

Vendors can overcome service challenges by providing balanced and realistic advice on flexible deployment options – from premise-based, private, hybrid or public cloud, explains Sedgewick.

“One size does not fit all so this type of dialog with customers is a first priority,” he says.

In terms of these specific adoption trends, Sedgewick predicts that disaster recovery usage scenarios – given recent weather emergencies hitting North America – and also Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOD) scenarios for content sharing and “on the fly” storage will expand over the next 12 months.

“Beyond what we’ve said about flexible deployment options, other best practices include looking for an integrated application suites or breadth of solution in the cloud offerings, rather than picking up a number of disconnected point solutions that don’t work together,” says Sedgewick. “Beyond that, larger enterprises should think about private cloud, along with managed services, as a deployment model – we are seeing huge growth and customer acceptance on the private cloud model.”

Overall the way to get started on a cloud strategy is to decide where data should be hosted physically; for example, DR and web hosting is best hosted in an off-premise data center, Donaghy adds.

“Move these services to the cloud first. Then look at ROI on internal systems and all new IT purchases should begin with an internal private cloud infrastructure. This hybrid approach is where the majority of companies will accomplish their IT objectives.”

Cloud Computing Cuts Major Expenses for SMB: A Case Study

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are always looking for ways to remain competitive, especially during a financial crisis and economic downfall. Virginia-based Cetrom Information Technology, Inc., a provider of custom cloud computing services for global SMBs, helped DPR Group, Inc., a public relations and marketing agency serving a broad range of technology companies, save over $120,000 in one year.

The Problem

With both of its offices utilizing a traditional on-site IT set-up, DPR Group often ran into problems with accessibility, integration and lost productivity due to extensive downtime and daily IT maintenance issues. With the rapid pace of news today, it’s imperative for this public relations and marketing firm’s account executives to have a reliable method to electronically communicate with clients and the media, while accessing files to support the execution of time-sensitive projects. Additionally, DPR Group was working with a managed services provider that functioned in a reactive break-fix model resulting in excessive downtime, reduced productivity and unnecessary time spent on IT maintenance.

The Solution

DPR decided to move to the cloud and selected Cetrom as its cloud computing service provider because of the company’s system and track record of zero downtime in over a decade. Cetrom says the company has built its cloud on a best-in-class technology infrastructure to provide flexible mobile workforce capabilities and a high level of IT support services to its clients through a front-line customer support staff of senior-level, certified engineers. DPR Group decided to implement Cetrom’s hybrid cloud model, which enables the company to take advantage of a full cloud deployment, while maintaining the peace of mind that comes with an extra layer of redundancy through backup on a local server. This solution enabled employees to access all of DPR Group’s IT resources anytime, anywhere, and from any device with only an Internet connection.

The Result

With a reliable telecommuting option now in place, DPR reduced operating costs by over $70,000 annually by consolidating to one physical office in Maryland, while retaining staff in home-based offices throughout the East Coast. DPR also saved $50,000 in lost productivity with Cetrom’s customer service and 99.99 percent uptime guarantee. With increased mobility and flexibility, traveling executives and sales teams now have easy access to all applications and data on the road. These savings totaled over $120,000 in a one year with significant return expected each year going forward.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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