It seems everywhere we look there is more and more talk about the Cloud. I’ve been hearing a lot about it and I bet you have too. Companies from Microsoft to Apple and Google with their One Drive, iCloud and Google Docs offerings as well as Amazon.com, Salesforce.com, VMware, Box, Dropbox, Sugar Sync and many others. There’s the personal Cloud, where you can store photos, music and documents, but there is also the corporate cloud and that means access, security and host of other issues. But what is the Cloud and what does it mean for you and corporate America? What does it mean if you have to contend with multiple Clouds?
In its simplest form the Cloud provides online resources of software, platforms, and infrastructure that are available “as-a-service” for users to consume. It’s changing how companies and other institutions not only think about IT, but how they are utilizing and reinventing IT as a service. According to research firm IDC, public Cloud spending was $47 billion in 2013, and will double in less than 4 years to $107 billion.
Growth like that is bound to catch investor eyes, but understanding the various aspects and opportunities associated with the Cloud is key. That’s why I recently spoke with Jay Chapel, CEO of Cloud Management Platform Company Ostrato. Despite all of the talk about the cloud over the last few years, Jay says we’re only in the first or second inning of what’s coming. Like any fast growing industry, there are pain points along the way and for some like Ostrato that means opportunity.
Jay, in its simplest form, what is the Cloud and how is it changing IT inside the enterprise?
Cloud, in its basic sense, provides online resources of software, platforms, and infrastructure that are available “as-a-service” for users to consume. This service is meant to be dynamic, meaning users can spin up and down resources as they need them.
This new cloud paradigm has dramatically changed how users consume IT resources. Traditionally business and technical users were dependent on IT departments for technology services. It could take months to spin up new services leveraging the old process. Now users have the ability to improve their agility and reduce costs through their use of cloud, by spinning up new services in seconds.
IT departments are embracing this new model, in order to retain their relevance. By leveraging clouds, IT now can act as the broker and provide immediate value to their business users.
How big is the Cloud opportunity expected to be over the next few years and who are some of the key players? Are we still in the early innings of the Cloud?
Yes, we believe its inning 1 or 2 of the cloud infrastructure lifecycle, which is based on customer feedback and industry data. Many customers are just beginning to adopt public cloud for IaaS, PaaS, and DaaS services, while SaaS (Salesforce, SAP, and Marketo for e.g.) has been more prevalent for some time now.
For example, Ostrato as a new enterprise is 100% cloud based for our entire supporting infrastructure and IT services but more mature and larger enterprises need to ensure they extract maximum value from legacy systems and ensure controls are in place especially for production systems in the cloud prior to a mass migration.
According to IDC Public Cloud spend was $47B in 2013, and will double in less than 4yrs to $107B, and by 2015 40% of these cloud services will be brokered by a 3rd party solution to ensure governance and management of this elastic IT environment. As we go out to talk to customers about their on-premise and off-premise infrastructure-based cloud environments we generally hear the use of vendors like VMware, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Openstack, and then a mix and match of Google, Rackspace Hosting, Softlayer, Terremark, and Eucalyptus.
Anytime an industry explodes like this there tend to be pain points along the way and that makes for opportunity. What are some of the pain points that you are hearing from your customers and prospects?
While talking with customers and prospects, we hear the same growing pains over and over. These issues are around cloud governance, administration, cost controls, and automation. Clients predominantly have more than one cloud (private and/or public) that they utilize, and maintaining separate environments increases the management complexity. When clients have potentially hundreds or thousands of users utilizing these cloud services, the training and administration issues grow out of control with the addition of new cloud technologies. Each one has its own interface and unique characteristics, which causes additional delays and costs for implementing.
In addition to the administration issues, clients currently have no visibility or control of their cloud usage. When enterprises are invoiced by their cloud service providers, they are very generic, and do not provide the necessary details around who consumed these services or which projects were associated with them. Each cloud provider supplies their own bill, and enterprises do not have the required visibility into these bills in order for them to understand their ROI and spend for the provider.
Another cost control issue is that users now have the ability to order any cloud system they want through any cloud provider, bypassing IT’s involvement and governance. These new cloud systems do not necessarily meet corporate IT standards, and may be sized inappropriately. The combination of these issues around administration, governance, and cost controls can potentially lead to significantly more expensive IT environments, which do not have the necessary governance and visibility to ensure proper controls.
Many people think that throwing technology at a problem is the answer, but is the right way to address these pain points?
Technology can definitely help with these problems, but enterprises must also implement proper policies and procedures. The policies are used to set the boundaries for the enterprises’ cloud operations, while the procedures provide the required steps for proper cloud operations. In today’s environments, if an enterprise does not implement a policy prohibiting users from bypassing their systems and going directly to a cloud service provider, then IT will never be able to ensure corporate governance and cost controls across these disparate environments.
Enterprises must implement these policy’s to ensure all users leverage their approved systems to consume cloud services, and enforce a policy that individual user bills for cloud environments would not be paid. The coordinated use of new technology, with updated policies and procedures, would ensure a company’s success with leveraging cloud technologies.
How are you addressing them?
In order to effectively leverage the many choices in cloud services and eliminate the growing pains, organizations need a solution that streamlines cloud adoption and reduces the inherent financial and security risks associated with multi-cloud environments. Ostrato cloudSM™ is a cloud management platform that delivers breakthrough governance and management capabilities to the Enterprise. By brokering on- and off-premise cloud services through an integrated platform, cloudSM™ empowers end-users and provides IT with the visibility and control required to advance and achieve business objectives.
Ostrato cloudSM™ is a purpose built enterprise grade cloud management platform that provides single-pane visibility, centralized control, and reporting across a variety of cloud services. By integrating third-party, internal, and hybrid cloud services into a single platform, Ostrato helps companies streamline and speed cloud adoption and ensure that the cloud is utilized to the best advantage in terms of cost, performance, and functionality.
How do you see the Cloud evolving over the next several years?
While predictions are always a gamble, we see cloud and cloud management very similar to the late 90’s and early 2000’s, when there was a rapid proliferation of new network types, services and applications being provided by ASP’s, MSP’s and traditional CSP’s (Communication Service Providers) and the corresponding industry consolidation. We believe this has morphed into DaaS, IaaS, PaaS, or XaaS and these capabilities need to provide elasticity, rapid innovation and costs savings to an Enterprise.
Enterprises have outsourced their networks for years, why not their infrastructure? The IT infrastructure is there to support the applications or services used to run a business and generate revenue, and if an organization can be more efficient by doing that off-premise, assuming you have the needed visibility and control to govern this process, than this fundamental rethink of the IT stack should continue full speed ahead – move the compute to data and not the data to the compute.
One reality that has been confirmed during the last six months is that the on-premise or private cloud is not going away anytime soon, so the hybrid world is reality. It’s very exciting to be a part of helping Enterprises adopt cloud services and solve their complexities, and enable orchestration and automation across this hybrid environment – we are long on cloud.