Is Cloud the Next Utility?
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Is Cloud the Next Utility, hmmm there's an interesting thought. I know many of us are still trying to define "what is Cloud" and "what does Cloud mean for my business." I spend my days in IBM's Cloud & Smarter Infrastructure team working on bringing "Cloud Solutions" to our customers. This turns out to be simply helping customers use what they have, maybe with a little twist, to build out their data center in a more robust, efficient manner. It's all about helping them meet the needs of their business. IT teams have been doing derivations of "do more with less" for years and as technology matures, specifically with virtualization and the management of virtual environments, IT teams are able to improve their Quality of Service, reduce their Total Cost of Ownership, while increasing the services they offer their consumers. How?, you ask. IT managers everywhere are trying to figure out how to provide their services in a Utility-like format utilizing "the Cloud." Think about how natural it is for us to expect that flipping on a light switch, magically makes electricity flows and the light comes on; how about if we could select a service, magically systems are provisioned, business processes are established and the service is available - would that provide business value? I'll use this blog post to start you thinking about "Cloud as the Next Utility" and get you wondering if we do indeed have front row seats to a Cloud Computing Revolution.
Should get I my electricity from the local power company or do I invest in sustaining my own private electricity? As individuals focus on a greener way of life, they may be asking themselves that question as they focus on using what they have while minimizing their own carbon footprint. People have options that they can ponder over to figure out what is best for their families, their life and their utility usage.
Organizations are iterating over multiple decision points to provide the growing IT infrastructure requirements to run their business and it is continually influenced by many different things. Do they already have a large IT investment? Do their IT requirements expand and contract depending on current activities? Do they have a diverse investment and skills on existing service management tools? It's apparent that these same questions can be asked regardless of the size of your IT shop - big or small companies have come to depend on IT services and this dependency continues to grow in this computing revolution. One direction an IT manager might take is a hybrid approach. Such a strategy allows them to utilize their current investment of infrastructure, tools and skills to build out their own Private Cloud while keeping a Public Cloud vendor accessible when their computing needs spike. Companies have options that they can ponder over to figure out what is best for their company's business, their IT environments and their utility usage.
How is it that when I buy a new appliance I don't even think about if it'll will work with my electrical outlets when I get home. Standardization on how electricity is delivered and consumed is ubiquitous and expected worldwide. As consumers, we buy a utility and have an expectation that it will work with all our appliances to meet our needs.
Most companies have already made large investments in both infrastructure and tools, as well as the skills to maintain them. The need to deliver more with what is available, requires technology that can bridge from existing environments to new environments regardless of the influences. By adopting and adhering to computing standards, tooling can utilize data from existing systems while meeting the needs and different delivery methodologies of the business in new ways. This means I can ease the coordination of complex tasks and workflows in my data center while leveraging the existing skills, processes and technology artifacts to deliver services in new, different ways. By employing computing standards in my data center strategy, I can be assured that I can rely on Public Cloud for my processing spikes; I can utilize both my older infrastructure while integrating in new infrastructure; all with the same extensible tooling for deployment and management of compute, storage and networking. As you're defining the next milestones in your cloud strategy/roadmap, I would encourage you to investigate what is in use today in your data center and how you need to evolve/ reuse that investment. IBM offers SmartCloud Orchestrator to manage your existing datacenter(s). It provides capabilities based on industry standards and can extend your current processes to Cloud, helping you bring Cloud Services to your users with the same self-service manner as flipping on a light switch or plugging in a new appliance. A utility that will work to meet your users needs.
Until next time, keep your head in the Clouds.
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