People Pose More Problems Than Tech in Making Cloud Part of Datacenter

Just days after a Verizon/Terramark usage study hinted that big companies were using the cloud for serious IT work, a new survey predicted independently managed “cloud computing” systems would soon disappear from corporate datacenters.

Rather than dying – or being killed off – cloud computing will become the basis for most mainstream IT and datacenter projects rather than being accorded separate budgets, separate development or usage plans and separate security arrangements, according to a report published by 451 Research Sept. 4.

In a semi-annual survey by 451 Research subsidiary TheInfoPro, sixty percent of IT professionals at large and mid-sized companies said the cloud is the natural evolution of IT services, and that they have already merged many of the separate budgets and project plans in work classified according to business function rather than the technology being used.

Of those who haven’t merged their cloud and IT projects, however, more than two thirds said their spending on cloud projects would increase during 2013 and 2014.

Until recently, the bulk of the cloud-computing work done by major corporations had been confined to private clouds designed to improve the efficiency of internal datacenters. During the past six months, however, the volume of work being given by large companies to external Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers has more than doubled, to between 30 percent and 33 percent of all IT projects.

The study is another indication that big IT organizations have accepted both public- and private-cloud installations as simply platforms on which to develop practical applications.

“As organizations are completing their transition to a virtualized datacenter infrastructure, their focus is switching rapidly to cloud computing projects,” according to a statement from Peter ffoulkes, director of cloud-computing research at TheInfoPro, in an announcement of the study.

The Verizon/Terramark study, published Aug. 30, showed 60 percent of all corporate cloud usage is now comprised of production applications that integrate with corporate business processes and IT systems, rather than simply being a platform for experimental development or marketing projects not tied to core business functions.

The study also showed far slower growth in the number of virtual machines corporations maintain on cloud services, as well as rapid increases in the memory and storage assigned to those VMs, indicating they are being used for far more resource-intensive tasks than in the past.

Security remains a top concern of most IT people involved in cloud projects, as does the threat of vendor lock-in due to incompatible cloud platforms or nonexistent migration plans, respondents said.

The functional focus of cloud- and datacenter managers has shifted from the difficulty of building clouds to the complex problem of running them effectively. The differences between various cloud- and cloud-management systems remains the top technology-development concern of respondents. The question of which platform to use is followed closely, however, by a need for cloud performance management and monitoring applications and the need for virtual-private-cloud IaaS systems – the cloud equivalent of hiring a hosting company to maintain servers used and managed solely by a single company.

Despite all the progress in expanding cloud computing projects, and the strategic process of integrating cloud into one of several available development platforms, there are still major roadblocks keeping datacenter managers from achieving what they really want from the cloud, according to 83 percent of those responding to TheInfoPro.

While huge in itself, the number of respondents citing problems is 9 percent higher than at the end of 2012, partly due to an increase in organizational tangles and reduction in technical difficulties.

Only 15 percent of the roadblocks cited involve IT-related problems, according to the survey. Non-IT-related problems created by individual managers, corporate politics, incompatible business processes and other organizational issues accounted for 68 percent of all roadblocks.

From a technology perspective, that shift is a sign that both cloud vendors and datacenter development teams have addressed the biggest of the technical problems associated with migration of current or legacy IT infrastructures to a completely new infrastructure architecture.

Unfortunately, since more than two-thirds of the surviving roadblocks come from human or organizational sources rather than good, clean technical problems, the barriers remaining to wholesale corporate adoption of the cloud are “more complex for vendors to address,” ffolkes said

 

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