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The truth about enterprises and the public cloud

Jonathan Hassell | June 25, 2014
Many companies look to the public cloud to cut costs, overhead and time to deployment. However, businesses need to understand how dramatically a move to the cloud will affect a key constituency: The IT department.

Additionally, the "enter your credit card and get access" business model embraced by most public cloud operators encourages users to bypass IT departments and just pay for the services they desire. This phenomenon is known as shadow IT. Often, IT departments have good reasons for offering and restricting services, but when users can simply go around them and consume cloud services such as Dropbox, Amazon Web Services and many others, IT professionals are even further marginalized.

The truth is that IT pros are nervous. The cloud puts their traditional roles in jeopardy, and there's no clear path for their careers to evolve. This is the truth about the public cloud.

Why Makes Private Cloud Different?
Private clouds don't suffer the same perception and trust issues that bedevil the public cloud. While you don't get the benefit of massive scale and the cheaper economics of the public cloud providers in a private cloud, you do get the "as a service" aspects of using cloud technology, along with complete control over the location and security of your data.

Most of the objections to moving to the private cloud revolve around two major themes.

First, the initial investment required to deploy a private cloud can be a strain on the IT budget. It requires forward thinking and excess capacity, neither of which is really optimal in the current economic environment. Cloud behavior depends on a medium to large amount of excess capacity; systems that are jammed up and utilized to the max — with no available memory, CPUs above 90 percent and a storage area network that's quickly filling up — aren't good candidates for turning into cloud compute.

Second, while your internal departments and end users will largely benefit from a self-service style private cloud environment where they can just order resources that spin up on their own, someone has to manage that. Typically, the same team responsible for the traditional infrastructure that's not yet ready to move over to the private cloud infrastructure must also manage the infant private cloud, at least in its initial stages. This ends up being more work for an already tired IT department.

Aside from these two main objections, the short- to medium-term future of IT is moving toward these private cloud scenarios, and not the public cloud, for most workloads.

Move to Public Cloud Can't Ignore Human Element
The human element in the decision to go to the public cloud or not has been significantly understated, but vendors are beginning to get the signal and develop messaging to counteract it. Even Brad Anderson, a Microsoft executive who oversees a lot of the cloud product pipeline, had to go on record answering a posed question about whether Microsoft is innovating IT pros and system administrators out of a job.


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