The Ins and Outs of Cloud Infrastructure Transition and Management
| Topic : Cloud Computing/SaaS
As more businesses begin the transition from traditional IT infrastructure to that of cloud computing, proper training for cloud management is becoming imperative. While the two are somewhat similar in scope, the cloud is still relatively new and, in some respects, much more complex. Some common cloud practices can help a business properly manage a secure and efficient transition.
There is no doubt that the cloud will continue to grow in popularity, as security concerns begin to dwindle and a general understanding of how the technology works spreads among the professional world. The International Data Corporation projects the cloud to grow from a $3.8 billion, 600,000 unit industry in 2010, to $6.4 billion and more than 1.3 million units by 2014.
PCWorld recently published an article assessing the major necessities for proper cloud IT management. According to the article, data integration is one of the first, and most important steps, for a smooth transition off of traditional networks. IT departments, the article asserts, should spearhead each assessment of a potential cloud provider, and how it intends on carrying out a successful procedure.
"Most vendors haven't been too proactive about the integration piece," stated Beth Cohen, senior consultant for a cloud consulting firm. "They're vertically focused and mostly concerned only about delivering their service and not about integrating with the 10 or 100 other applications a particular company might have."
To help improve the efficacy of data integration, the website recommends ensuring consistent data models. Once again, the article recommends IT departments take the lead on this, as multiple entities within a business that are not comfortable with IT matters may complicate and compromise a successful transition. Even so, much of keeping data models consistent is as easy as using standardized ID numbers and file naming practices, the article notes.
"As long as the data models match when you want to orchestrate with other applications, either elsewhere in the cloud or internal to the enterprise, the integration process will be that much easier," Cohen added. "And note, that is 'when' you want to do this, not 'if,' because this will be happening.
Another concern with cloud IT is the speed at which it is possible to develop new resources. The website notes, in some cases, IT operations have a difficult time managing resources as a result of internal developers not going through a proper provisioning process. To solve this problem, the article recommends creating a 'DevOps' team to improve the speed and efficacy of provisioning processes.
DevOps teams could also manage smart configurations and cloud infrastructure automation to account for the agility and haste the cloud often requires. Additionally, the article states cost management becomes more complex when switching over to the cloud, as the actual price of cloud management is not as easy to nail down as was true for traditional IT systems and departments.
"We find integrating of the cloud fulfillment, particularly if resources are coming from the public cloud to the standard procurement process within the enterprise, is an area where people get surprised," stated Phil Garland, a member of PricewaterhouseCooper's CIO Advisory services. "It's a difficult connection to establish, but it's so important to be able to effectively track consumption of resources from the cloud and the cost of consuming those resources."
To solve this problem, Garland recommends finding a cloud service provider that offers financial management tools and strong transparency, while ensuring the in-house IT department has an effective cost model.
Industry expert Gartner has cited the importance of an active in-house IT department when transitioning to the cloud, and asserted that competition within the IT field will need to increase as more businesses look for more cost-effective IT infrastructures.