A recent report from Forrester Consulting (registration required) conducted on behalf of CA shows that the enterprise is very much interested in the clouds, though most organizations are not yet ready to take full advantage.
The study confirms that virtualization is continuing to expand, and that the technology introduces new levels of complexity that threaten the stability of services. While that statement certainly sounds like an oxymoron (wasn't the cloud supposed to make everything easier?) the fact of the matter is that virtualization itself has had a perverse effect of often making it more difficult to manage server resources.
What's important to note is that virtualization is not cloud (and vice versa) but rather acts as one of the primary enablers of cloud-like principles to be realized.
To that end, the report affirms that virtualization will expand unabated but will standardize even further on the de facto designs of customers' virtualization vendor of choice.
Moving a workload from one brand of hypervisor platform to another is difficult today. It is better to remain on a common platform. Platform-independent software (e.g., interpreted rather than compiled applications) can be migrated more easily. New release management and software development technologies that are already emerging will enable heterogeneous platform support and make heterogeneous platforms more acceptable.
Forrester highlighted seven key findings:
- Capacity management is the top operational concern--it's also a mystery as the underlying capacity of virtualized servers in public clouds is largely unknown.
- Moving to internal clouds requires changes to processes and automation management tools--as virtualized servers become clouds, IT departments have to change the way they manage systems.
- Comprehensive domain coverage is critical--seamless management across all environments doesn't yet exist.
- A top-down, application-centric approach is needed--nothing new here. Business should drive the app design, not the infrastructure.
- SaaS and cloud-based offerings are highly desired--customers are increasingly interested in off-loading apps to trusted providers.
- Operational control is slowly moving away from SMEs--interesting point that big IT companies are starting to take over the cloud discussion.
- Virtualization has been a boon to operations--Ops staff are apparently still enamored of virtualization.
Forrester also notes that there are a number of hurdles impeding cloud efforts, notably the fact that many IT shops simply don't trust the cloud, and have little experience in managing cloud-like applications.
As with any new technology, for cloud computing to reach it's full potential there needs to be shifts in how users consume and deploy the software as well as how IT shops understand the associated requirements. Without this maturity, the cloud will remain an accessory rather than a core part of an IT infrastructure.