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The secrets to successful cloud management

IT research firm Gartner outlines the key concepts that organizations can use to get the most out of cloud deployments — and cloud management software is just the beginning.

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If your organization isn’t using cloud computing yet, chances are it will at some point in the near future, judging from an analysis by IT research firm Gartner.

According to research director Dennis Smith, 60 per cent of organizations plan to use one or more of the various types of cloud offerings on the market. That could include anything from infrastructure as a service (IaaS) to software as a service (SaaS), on in-house servers or sourced from cloud service providers.

To make the most of any cloud environment, you need to consider a few things — such as the cloud services market, the software available to manage cloud systems and best practices for effective cloud control. To that end, Smith recently conducted a webinar to highlight a number of crucial ideas. Have a listen to his presentation: Cloud Management in the Age of Digital Business (April 19). From our perspective, he made three especially practical points:

  1. Cloud management software is just the beginning

Such platforms are not the end-all and be-all of cloud management. Yes, they provide many of the core cloud-management functions such as IT process automation, policy enforcement and self-service for users to tap their own cloud resources. But Smith says cloud management platforms often lack other features that are becoming more useful, such as “shopping and brokering.”

That functionality lets users specify the characteristics of a workload and recommends the optimal technologies for the job. The point is, to manage your cloud infrastructure well, you may need additional software beyond the management platform. The good news, Smith points out, is that management software providers are always enhancing their products. Over time, these features will likely be incorporated into common cloud management systems.

  1. Hybrid is the way to go

“There’s a definite movement into public cloud environments,” says Smith. “I suspect that if we look at this three years from now … more than half of [workloads] will be in the public cloud.” But many organizations will keep at least some of their workloads on private cloud systems to meet regulations or to ensure applications perform well. As such, “your future will be hybrid,” he says.

Organizations need to prepare to run cloud platforms that have both private and public infrastructure elements. Get ready by watching not only the public cloud market, but also what’s happening in the private cloud arena to identify the products and services that make the most sense for your particular situation.

  1. Successful clouds follow a certain sequence

Companies begin by figuring out their goals — their reasons for considering cloud in the first place, Smith explains. Next, they define the technology services they need to meet those requirements. Then they consider the business processes that tie into the services to make sure they’re aligned.

Only then do they put their money on the table to acquire the appropriate cloud infrastructure. And finally, once they execute, these organizations consistently monitor the system and make changes as required to ensure it’s optimized according to their needs.

Smith recommends following that sequence to identify the best cloud technologies for your company. After all, he points out, the cloud presents enormous benefits, such as potentially lower IT infrastructure costs and the ability to efficiently mix and match best-of-breed applications from various vendors.

But “excellent technology for the wrong use case can be a disaster,” Smith warns. “Average technology applied to the right use case could give you the benefits we’ve talked about here.”

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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