Cloud overload?

September 19th, 2012 by Stephen Jones Leave a reply »

IT management is increasingly complex and embraces many aspects: hardware, software, services, security, policies and compliance , back ups, storage , data amangemetn and retention policies, etc.  As companeis grows so  their IT workload grows and diversifies often this is incremental and ad hoc. A move to the cloud may  involve considering all of these aspects and there are various options e.g.: 

  •  Software as a service ‘SaaS’
  • security-as-a-service
  • testing-as-a-service,
  • as platform-as-a-service
  • infrastructure-as-a-service.

Specific  services include: storage, database, information, process, integration, security, management/governance, and testing.

Broader  services include: application, platform, and infrastructure.

 as companies adopt the cloud businesses need to rethink how they will manage their  IT resources  and the taks they undertake which amy already be too numerous and complex deal with ad hoc.

The number of cloud services used will  grow. Some services are  easy to track, and many companies may use hundreds or even thousands of services e.g Google apps, or social media, or apps store services such a s payment gateways. IT staff   approach what cloud guru David Linthicum  calls a tipping point where the number of services exceeds IT’s ability to manage those..

Companies have to manage these cloud services with appropriate tools  e.g. to monitor usage, uptime, security, governance, and compliance with SLAs. It is best to consider these requirmenents efore adopting cloud services. otherwise you have retrofit cloud services management strategy and technology.

What’s an IT manager to do? David Linthicum advises:

First, create a management strategy. Each business uses cloud computing services differently and so requires different approaches. You must define the features of cloud service management, including monitoring, use-based accounting, and autoprovisioning.

Second, pick one or more technologies that can help meet the services-management objectives defined in your strategy. Many tools are available, either on-premises and cloud-delivered. Map out a path for implementing that technology, being very careful not to break legacy systems. .

Finally, consider how all of this will scale. As you expand the use of cloud computing, you will have more services to deal with, so you’ll discover more tipping points. The ability to use and manage thousands of cloud services from hundreds of cloud providers is the end-game. Prepare for it now.

Switching to a cloud service isn’t just about swapping one technology for another, it’s about changing a way an organisation operates. For example, a bespoke IT system will cater for the idiosyncratic needs of an organisation, whereas a cloud service is a generic system built for the needs of a mass market.

Dr Mark Thompson, lecturer in Information Systems at Cambridge Judge Business School and ICT Futures advisor to the Cabinet Office warned: “The cloud environment isn’t ready to provide a lot of features of functions that we’ve come to accept.It’s useless unless we’ve got a grip of our business models and architecture, and data architecture underlying that, to understand whether we should be using this stuff in the first place.”

Before government bodies can replace IT systems built and maintained by suppliers with off-the-shelf generic cloud services they will likely have to carry out a detailed assessment of organisational structure followed by significant restructuring.

Cloud’s commodity nature isn’t suited to delivering every type of service. Technology is a small proportion of the process and the cost of change management, of process reengineering may be high.

Ask yourself :

 ‘What’s the benefit – why change? ?’,

 ‘What’s your clarity about where you’re going ?’

“Are you prepared to make those difficult decisions to get to that end point?’.”

Even once an organisation is decided the ‘cloud’ is the right fit for a particular task and restructured accordingly, there’s still some tricky technical issues to be sorted out – e.g. dealing with porting problems, complexity and consistency between the old and the new environment.

Organsiations will still invest in the switch to cloud services, given the long term savings on offer butsensibel planning and strategy is needed or the transiton will be be long and difficult.

Dr Mark Thompson, lecturer in Information Systems at Cambridge Judge Business School and ICT Futures advisor to the Cabinet Office, said while the government’s cloud strategy is “a great step in the right direction, however it’s not the answer”.Thompson said the whole idea of a “G-cloud” or “CloudStore” of services just for government is contrary to the unspecialised nature of cloud services. Cloud …means utility, we do stuff the same as everyone else therefore we can just consume it. Putting G in front of it means we’re going to do everything the same way but we’re going to have a little enclave for government. A government enclave within cloud. [Being] special and not special literally doesn’t make sense. It’s a great step on the way forward, it’s highly valuable. It’s a beacon for the future in government procurement but it’s not the same as the relentless commoditisation [I'm referring to] when I’m talking about cloud.”

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