The Unisys 2012 Predictions for Cloud Computing explore the growing business adoption of Private Cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions while recognizing that certain security, integration and management challenges remain. In this blog post, I’ll highlight each area and recommend how to exploit its maturing potential.
Private Cloud implementations continue to accelerate
We expect that private cloud implementations will continue to accelerate in 2012, as clients seek to leverage them across their infrastructure to drive improved organizational responsiveness and cost savings, while securing these systems within the enterprise perimeter. In private clouds, we believe that ubiquitous virtualization across servers, storage, networks and applications, coupled with maturity in managing this virtualized IT estate, will be needed to optimize IT cost reductions and drive business agility improvements for the enterprise.
Fueled by private cloud implementations, we expect that hybrid clouds will grow in popularity in 2012, driving decisions on applications and data location to optimize costs, focus on core business enablement and drive business alignment. In CIO Magazine, Forrester Research analyst Galen Schreck addresses How to Plan Now for Hybrid Cloud Management stating “Over the next three years, leading edge IT shops will start blurring the boundaries between public and private IaaS environments, so that applications can move between them based on immediate needs and economics.” We therefore expect to see increased interest in enterprise-class cloud management software, with the ability to manage both public and private clouds as an integral part of an overall data center environment.
Software as a Service builds on email and collaboration and expands towards line of business applications and IT infrastructure
We believe organizations – both IT and business units – will accelerate their adoption of SaaS solutions for email and collaboration to further reduce costs and simplify operations. Additionally, in 2012, we predict SaaS will extend into line of business applications, supporting mission-critical transaction processing. Over the next few years, intelligent analytics built into these SaaS applications will enhance the ability for organizations to support sales, supply chain, logistics and support personnel in real time, making better sense of huge volumes of data more quickly to provide better responsiveness and customer support.
As SaaS extends further into the business, IT Service Management SaaS solutions will become popular, as they can significantly enhance time to value for ITSM process improvement initiatives. We predict that ITSM SaaS vendors will promote standard configuration solutions, with minimum customization and best practices codified into the software and its workflows. The resulting reduced implementation cycle will lead to much faster deployment of enterprise management projects.
Overall, we expect organizations to begin the process of broadly assessing their applications portfolio to take greater advantage of cloud computing opportunities. These assessments will provide clients opportunities for consolidating applications and take advantage of a growing suite of SaaS offerings to simplify their IT operations and improve their flexibility.
But how an organization adopts Private Cloud and SaaS solutions can have a significant impact on the long term success of these projects. In many cases IT has spent too much time building virtualized pools of IT resources and private clouds and not enough time establishing standards for SaaS adoption or hybrid cloud management. This has often left business units free to procure cloud services with corporate security policies and compliance requirements ignored. Misunderstood SLAs (service level agreements) may not deliver the required performance, capacity and availability, and organizational data ownership, availability and security could be put at risk. Business unit, legal and IT organizations must be aligned to ensure these possibilities are mitigated.
Finally, let’s also consider the integration requirements between the organization’s software and data and that of the SaaS provider’s applications. There may be complex, cross-application integration required to get the right information in the right form to the right decision makers at the right time without having to retrain the entire organization on how to navigate an entirely new application.
So what do we recommend given these predictions?
First, organizations should increasingly consider SaaS a viable option for common line of business applications and IT management solutions, especially if they’re already considering outsourcing, as SaaS vendors may provide more cost-effective solutions than traditional outsourcers. We also believe that effective governance of security, compliance, and corporate policies will help ensure effectiveness and reduced risk when adopting SaaS solutions for mission-critical line of business applications, thus requiring IT’s involvement in business unit purchases of SaaS. To help make effective governance a reality, IT Service Management SaaS solutions can provide the agility required to quickly implement the software functionality that underpins effective service management processes.
Second, enterprise architects should investigate new enterprise-class cloud management software and roadmaps from vendors to determine the best mid-term strategy. There is a plethora of cloud management stacks to choose from, requiring your ability to separate the wheat from the chaff for your organization. Base your decision criteria on the necessary levels of security, availability, scalability, flexibility and self service, while ensuring a single management view of services, software and infrastructure across all deployment models in the hybrid enterprise. CIOs should also engage with managed services vendors on their hybrid cloud management capabilities to consider outsourcing alternatives. And always keep in mind that the cloud tool is just one part of building a hybrid enterprise capability – so ensure that other elements such as financial policy, security, ITSM, support services and system architecture are well integrated in your approach.
Lastly, we recommend that CIOs establish virtualization practices that encompass all aspects of virtualization to ensure best value is gained from virtualization, consolidation, shared IT services and private clouds. User self-provisioning of cloud resources should follow an automated process utilizing standard configurations and pre-approved changes that address security and organizational policy compliance. Workflow automation should be used for requests that can’t be satisfied with standard configurations to allow faster authorization and implementation.
With so many aspects of cloud across the hybrid enterprise – SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, public cloud services, private clouds, potentially community clouds – a balanced approach is needed to strategize, architect and instantiate your cloud services.