The term “cloud computing” is a well worn phrase by now, but what does it really mean when it comes to your IT environment? What challenges should you prepare for, and how far-reaching are the benefits? Let’s begin with some definition.
This is cloud computing
According to a recent article in InfoWorld, the meaning of “cloud computing” can be fuzzy because analysts and vendors use the term broadly. Some use the phrase as an updated version of utility computing, while others argue that anything you use outside the firewall is “in the cloud,” including any outsourcing.
No matter how you define the details, the important part of any cloud definition is one crucial word: opportunity. The cloud provides a distinctive road map for meeting the productivity and security requirements that come with growth, opening up possibilities for expansion.
What cloud computing isn’t
When looking at cloud computing for your converged infrastructure, keep in mind that there are a few definitions of what cloud computing is not:
- An all-or-nothing decision for your organization, in which everything in your environment has to be cloud-based.
- A risky strategy that creates security issues; given a high level of planning, best practices, and best-of-breed solutions, you can create a strong, efficient infrastructure that harnesses cloud computing without getting squashed by it.
- A strategy that takes you from point A to point Z, with clearly marked stops along the way. Every cloud computing setup is unique to each environment, so what works for another organization might not be the best fit for yours.
Harnessing the cloud
There are numerous strategies for deploying cloud services, from increasing the number of virtual servers to aligning workloads for an optimized cloud deployment model. Whatever path you choose, here are some of the benefits you could see:
- Reduced costs: Server virtualization can increase IT efficiency, availability and flexibility, which ends up lowering costs in the long term—particularly when it comes to total cost of ownership across your entire infrastructure.
- Better services: By standardizing processes and workloads, and adjusting service management, you can provide better services at less cost.
- Stronger alignment: Cloud services can enhance enterprise agility, which can lead to more alignment between IT and business growth drivers.
- Variable operating costs: By outsourcing non-strategic IT operations to a cloud-based system, you can shift away from a fixed operating cost model, leading to increased capacity, more automation, and better standardization.
Cloud computing and your converged infrastructure
Of course, along with all its benefits, cloud computing also adds another level of complexity to the IT structure. And simply adding to the legacy architecture won’t solve the problem.
Successfully folding cloud computing into the mix requires a new way of thinking that involves the merging of IT silos. Despite its complexity, cloud computing offers an opportunity to rethink IT strategy, so you can develop a service model that aligns with larger business goals.