There has been a lot of marketing fuzz around the “cloud” during the past few months. Things have become a little sharper right now – less cloudy, in other words. There are two major points which are increasingly understood: Cloud Computing is mainly about services. The target is to enable IT to choose the best service providers for the required services. Best means not only “cheapest”, but the ones which fulfill the requested service levels. That might be internal or external service providers. And this directly leads to the second major point: Clouds will be hybrid. Most companies won’t just use external services; neither will they rely only on their internal services. In fact the IT world is hybrid for most organizations even today – they are using web conferencing services, email services, external backup services or web hosting services besides their internal IT, to name just a few.
This “hybrid” nature means, that companies have to enable their internal IT in a way that it can act like a public cloud service provider. Enablement includes a strong service management approach and a technical infrastructure which makes data centers much more dynamic than they have been before. Thus, cloud computing requires a strong foundation at the infrastructure layer. The data center has to become SLA driven, highly automated, and “elastic”. That requires tools. And best-of-breed tools will support this for internal data centers as well as public data centers, including the ability to move instances between different data centers and to manage services consistently across such distributed infrastructures.
By the way: When looking at these major initiatives around Cloud Computing it becomes obvious that Cloud Computing isn’t that new. Virtualization is a topic since a while, and service management is as well discussed for a long time. What’s new is the integrated view of all these initiatives and the move from tactical approaches at the data center level or IT Service Management level towards a strategic initiative which makes IT more flexible and adaptive than it has been before.
The post was contributed by Martin Kuppinger, an analyst from Kuppinger Cole.