Cloud computing has taken up a mantle throughout the IT industry, especially in critical market verticals. A new IDC report indicated the technology accounted for one-third of ethernet, disk storage and server infrastructure budgets during the third quarter of 2014. Overall year-over-year cloud revenue for the period improved 16 percent to $6.5 billion, with public clouds accounting for almost half of this figure, achieving 18 percent year-over-year increases.
Richard Villars, vice president of data center and cloud research at IDC, explained public and private cloud computing make up a part of the 3rd Platform, which also includes mobile devices, social networking, and big data and analytics. Cloud solutions are "digital content depots" and "compute factories" that will usher in this next IT phase.
"Whether internally owned or 'rented' from a service provider, cloud environments are strategic assets that organizations of all types must rely upon to quickly introduce new services of unprecedented scale, speed and scope. Their effective use will garner first-mover advantage to any organization in a hyper-competitive market," Villard said.
Cloud computing's impact could be even greater
The amount of organizations using or planning to launch cloud services is already at a healthy level. Should more businesses overcome their data concerns, the sky might be the limit in terms of the technology's adoption rate.
A joint NCC Group and Vanson Bourne study found 40 percent of companies have not implemented cloud computing yet because of data loss fears. These worries are due primarily to whether cloud environments are offline, with roughly 75 percent of respondents reporting it would take more than one week to incorporate contingency plans following such outages. Another 5 percent noted their recovery time would require between two to three months.
The interesting part of the survey is that cloud computing can actually enhance disaster recovery if the proper service is available. Cloud environments enable end-users to access corporate content through PCs, tablets and smartphones, so employees can get back to work following a disruption. Firms may be forced to close their offices for a period of time, so having a somewhat productive workforce in place goes a long way toward generating revenue during difficult periods.
Daniel Liptrott, managing director of NCC Group, noted 2e2, an IT services provider, is the perfect example of how an organization can struggle without the necessary disaster recovery protocols.
"In a sector where time equates to large sums of money, organizations should ensure that they have comprehensive and effective disaster recovery plans in place to avoid costly delays if something goes wrong," Liptrott added.
Support your IT infrastructure, disaster recovery with the right cloud model
Businesses that research potential cloud offerings before any implementation can determine whether certain services offer the necessary data protection. The key to achieving this goal is through testing different cloud environments prior to launch.
Cloud-readiness tools enable companies to compare services and how their unique IT environments will interact with each solution. First-time adopters that want to minimize any complications with the technology from the start can do so from the beginning of the process with RISC Networks CloudScape.
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Cisco has become synonymous with cloud computing over the years, especially for its Intercloud offering, which enables businesses to create highly flexible environments to support their companies. Network World’s Brandon Butler recently detailed how Cisco’s cloud approach has changed over the years.
Butler explained the idea of Cisco standing toe to toe with the likes of Amazon, Google and Microsoft in the cloud arena was not really a smart approach. Instead, the business has other ideas to differentiate itself in this expanding market.
“We’re going back to our roots,” proclaimed Nick Earle, senior vice president of Worldwide Service Sales at Cisco, as quoted by Butler. “We’re going to provide connectivity to the clouds.”
This approach led to Cisco releasing Intercloud in 2014. Butler noted the solution includes Intercloud Fabric – internal software – and application-centric infrastructure that automatically supplies resources based on specific workload demands. The suite enables businesses to migrate applications to and from different models, including public and private environments, as well as hypervisors.
Security is undoubtedly one of the main concerns regarding any cloud implementation. Organizations want to be sure any data and applications housed in a cloud environment are protected, since they lack physical control over such resources. The Cisco Intercloud employs safeguards directly related to workloads, enabling traffic to be encrypted.
Cisco investing heavily in Intercloud
Cisco appears to be putting its money where its mouth is in terms of developing the Intercloud. In 2014, the company announced it will invest more than $1 billion in its cloud infrastructure through 2016, building “the world’s largest global Intercloud” with the help of its partners.
Robert Lloyd, president of sales and development at Cisco, said customers and vendors are looking at Cisco to develop both an open and secure cloud suite that minimizes risk and creates value.
“Together, we have the capability to enable a seamless world of many clouds in which our customers have the choice to enable the right, highly secure cloud for the right workload, while creating strategic advantages for rapid innovation, and ultimately, business growth,” Lloyd added.
Cloud computing figures to play a critical role in the Internet-connected workplace. Cisco detailed this market will be worth $19 trillion in the next decade, prompting the vendor to create scalable Interclouds that deliver collaborative, mobile and video services.
Firms relying heavily on cloud computing for competitive advantage
In addition to boosting collaboration and efficiency, organizations are looking at cloud computing to deliver a competitive advantage of their rivals. If Cisco can work with its partners and other vendors to create scalable environments that support this desire, the Intercloud will likely become even more critical to the IT industry in the near future.
A Netsuite-commissioned survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan found 81 percent of U.S. businesses have achieved a competitive advantage using cloud computing solutions.
Lynda Stadtmueller, vice president of Frost & Sullivan’s cloud services program, said the U.S. tech industry is evolving at fast rate. Companies need tools to remain innovative during ever-changing economic conditions. This desire is not only to achieve a competitive advantage, but “survive.”
With vendors such as Cisco throwing their weight around in the cloud computing industry, organizations have an opportunity to adopt one of the most innovative technologies going. Firms are expected to implement cloud environments at even faster rates than they are currently doing so, signaling that the service is here to stay.
Organizations planning an implementation should use cloud readiness tools to select the best model for their unique businesses.
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Cloud computing is the foundation of many operations, including Web-scale IT. Cameron Haight, research vice president at Gartner, recently explained the term was founded by the likes of Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix and Rackspace. The tech model improves service delivery capabilities, enabling smaller businesses to directly compete with larger enterprises.
"Gartner has identified six elements to Web-scale IT: industrially-designed data centers, Web-oriented (or microservices) architectures, programmable management, velocity-focused processes, a collaborative organization style, and an innovation-centric and learning culture," Haight said.
Companies with Web-scale hardware can take advantage of affordable solutions that offer more computing power and storage capacity compared to other options. Haight added this equipment is also effective at addressing infrastructure failure, since businesses can replace nodes if one breaks.
This scalability is a welcome addition for organizations, especially small businesses that must compete with much larger brands. Haight noted smaller companies with Web-scale IT can essentially achieve "higher IT velocity" than the competition, taking advantage of new market trends before their rivals.
Firms with a combination of on-premise equipment and cloud services should be able to implement their own brand of Web-scale IT, according to Haight.
Successful businesses will be cloud users, survey suggests
Small companies that embrace Web-scale IT can hold their own against even larger counterparts if they play their cards right. Cloud computing will remain a key building block in helping businesses accomplish this goal for the foreseeable future, according to a Canopy survey.
The study polled chief financial officers and chief information officers regarding their stance on cloud computing and the technology's impact on their companies. Of the CFOs polled, 75 percent are concerned their organizations will fall behind in their markets if they lack access to cloud-based infrastructure and applications.
A total of 70 percent of both CIOs and CFOs fear their companies will be uncompetitive at some point in the near future, with more than three-quarters expecting this situation to rear its head as early as the end of 2015.
Cloud computing the gateway to digital transformation
Organizations without forward-thinking strategies will be unable to succeed in their highly competitive markets. Cloud computing is a technology that can help these firms migrate to the digital frontier.
Jacques Pommeraud, CEO of Canopy, asserted digital solutions such as the cloud must be in companies' DNA to gain market share and achieve maximum revenue. Businesses in specific industries – manufacturing, retail and hospitality – can leverage digital technologies to find new revenue opportunities.
"One of the keys to unlocking digital transformation is cloud computing. From the work we're doing with clients, we're seeing that it has the power to create revenue by making the customer journey effortless across any device, enables faster customer sign-ups so they'll spend sooner and support real-time analytics to make more accurate targeting decisions," Pommeraud explained.
Pommeraud added the most innovative companies will be the ones to use cloud computing and analytics to discover new revenue streams.
Take measured approach to cloud deployments
Businesses planning a cloud implementation in the near future can achieve a smooth transition if they put in the effort before making any final decision. Cloud readiness tools enable adopters to test how various cloud services will impact their networks and other mission-critical IT infrastructure.
Such solutions are essential for companies that want to avoid choosing cloud environments that may be cost-effective, but do not deliver consistent efficiency on a daily basis. There are plenty of affordable cloud services available. It is all about finding the right fit, however, which can be accomplished through cloud readiness suites.
As chief data officer at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Eugene Kolker has a fairly unusual job title – especially for this industry. "In healthcare it's extremely, extremely rare," he says. But that may be changing.
[See also: Why should docs care about big data?]
"To my knowledge, I was one of the first couple" CDOs in healthcare, says Kolker, who took on that position at Seattle Children's way back in 2007.
Jeremy Littlejohn, chief analyst for RISC Networks discusses some common pain points that IT organizations face when moving to the cloud. Regardless of the issue, the cause of the issue is more often than not related to improper planning.
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