Cloud Computing For The Enterprise: It’s About Service
One of the most interesting aspects of my job is talking to CIOs about what the data center of the future will look like. Where’s the market going? How will cloud computing services fit in? And what will CIOs need to build? Because after all, these are the folks who are going to pay for it.
The conversations are always enlightening—and sometimes surprising. For example, for all the talk about the private cloud, cloud computing, and the technology that enables it: virtualization, automation, self-service, etc., what is top of mind for most CIOs is how to deliver IT as a service (ITaaS) to the business faster and more transparently. It’s not about the technology; it’s about what that technology can enable.
Of course, some of the people I talk to are passionate about using name-brand, enterprise-class cloud computing infrastructure, but just as many use commodity hardware to meet unit cost goals. A wake-up call for all of us infrastructure providers. And it’s only a little different from a software perspective. Most are using name-brand management and orchestration tools today, but some are exploring open source options. I think the latter category will only continue to increase.
It’s the attributes of a cloud services deployment that are important to CIOs, much more so than its components. As the IT infrastructure head of a billion dollar healthcare organization told me, “I want to start changing the culture of the organization and move to transparency. I want to deliver a service against business requirements rather than delivering parts of technology.
From what I’m hearing, this sentiment is echoed by CIOs across industries, as is the need for an ITaaS catalog with a strong self-service component. Business users should be able to get the service they need without having to wait for IT to go through its time-consuming, traditional processes.
And what about cost? For private cloud deployments, it’s usually a driver but not always the primary one. Visibility into cost though is paramount. While not all companies charge back to the business, many show back—with plans to charge back. And virtually all use the public cloud as a pricing benchmark. Given the ability of some public cloud services players to reduce prices, the pressure is on.
As one multibillion dollar sportswear company IT executive said, “We don’t charge back today, but we do show back. We’re working hard to be transparent.” A publishing executive put it even more bluntly, “We do compare our costs to public cloud. Some of our workloads are less expensive for internal cloud, and there are others where public cloud is less expensive… another Amazon Web Services price decrease and it’ll flip the benefit in favor of AWS.”
So with all this focus on cloud services delivery, what does it mean for the structure, processes, and skill sets required for the IT organization of the future? In the short term—upheaval. In the long term—a chance to transform their application, infrastructure, and operating models to deliver ITaaS more rapidly and become an agile business partner.