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Federated cloud strategies: What CIOs need to know

Patricia Brown | Nov. 14, 2011
In many ways the concept of federated cloud is ironic.

In many ways the concept of federated cloud is ironic. Cloud computing rapidly gained traction because of its ability to manage the complexity of multiple legacy environments while consolidating infrastructure. But as organizations move forward with various cloud initiatives, many CIOs are now wrestling a sprawl of clouds that seems to be spinning out of control.

"We've seen a lot of business people who are going rogue and making investments in the private cloud as opposed to working together with the CIO to develop a unified plan for how best to leverage the cloud," says Peter High, president of Metis Strategy. "While many different parts of the business are making these decisions independently, when you add them up, these decisions may be very disparate."

Beth Cohen, technology thought leader with Cloud Technology Partners, echoes those sentiments. "We're also seeing a lot of business units hopping onto the cloud in various ways that is causing a headache for CIOs," she says. "There is no question that CIOs are starting to think about the federated cloud."

Consider the following:

Business unit leaders, intent on accelerating time to market, are dialing up public cloud application services almost on a whim. Executives can get immediate access to sophisticated customer relationship management, human resource management, and many other services in minutes by filling out online forms and providing a corporate credit card. Enterprise IT organizations often have no idea that external providers are supporting these business processes. But it is happening, and at an accelerating pace. Gartner expects the worldwide software as a service (SaaS) market to grow by 21 percent in 2011 alone.

A growing number of application development teams are turning to external infrastructure resources. Faced with stringent make-or-break deadlines, many developers are spinning up processing and storage resources from external infrastructure vendors to test new ideas and even roll out new services. They simply do not have the time or the financial resources to wait for IT organizations to requisition and implement traditional servers and platforms. Application development is just one of many demand factors that have prompted analysts at Technavio to predict that the global Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) market will grow at a 48 percent clip between now and 2014.

Meanwhile, IT organizations respond to unexpected competition from public cloud providers by web-enabling their own internal infrastructures. One of the reasons a lot of business is going outside of IT is for the self-service that many public cloud services offer. "It is going to become imperative that internal IT develop some kind of self-service mechanism," says Cohen. Technavio says the private cloud server market is currently growing at a compound annual growth rate of 12.7 percent.


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