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Overcoming real-world barriers to maximizing the private cloud

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By Keith Macbeath

 

Many IT leaders who have implemented a private cloud aren’t getting the benefits they hoped for. In a report from last June called Q2 2014 Private Cloud Customer Research, Technology Business Research found that out of the 2,200 companies queried, many of them were nowhere near where they expected to be in their cloud adoption journey. As it turns out, if you build it—in this case a private cloud—they (internal app developers) may not come as forecast.

 

And, in the meantime, if you pushed for a private cloud you probably now face pressure to prove the much-vaunted improvement in cost-effectiveness. Although you promised higher utilization and lower cost per unit, your costs have actually just gone up. You’ve duplicated infrastructure and you have not improved productivity —or so you’re told. What’s going on?

 

The big barrier: Integration

Although security is always rightly top of mind when it comes to cloud, integration is the biggest unexpected barrier people confront in the real world. Even if a company wanted to do a complete switch to a new Finance suite to run on a private cloud there are no major enterprises where such a suite stands alone. Of course, a Finance solution is going to integrate into HR and Sales systems at the least, and certainly into your access control systems. The issue of integration complexity isn’t a new one in IT, and it doesn’t disappear because of the cloud.

 

In fact, the pressure to get integration right is actually increased by cloud adoption—suddenly many of the other things that slowed IT down in terms of agility are going away because of cloud, but not integration.

 

How do you get that right? The real answer is data architecture. But, that puts fear into everyone’s heart because it includes the word “data” and it includes the word “architecture,” both of which are cursed words in IT. Don’t despair, because some industries have evolved a solution and there are three concrete steps you can take to make integration smoother.

 

Making integration smoother with data architecture

An industry that—rather by accident—did data architecture the right way is capital markets. To trade and settle, you need to have compatible ticker symbols and real-time information associated with those symbols. Since everything about capital markets at some level comes down to trading among market participants according to a standard data model, an industry-wide data architecture arose, led initially by exchanges followed by clearing houses and data providers.

 

Even though most companies can’t impose a standard across an industry, there are three things you can do to get your data architecture in order:

 

  • Make data architecture a priority—it might be time for a chief data officer
  • Find and identify standards that already exist in your industry—and use them
  • Apply expertise in one domain to other areas—look to your supply chain management, for example, as a model to apply to other parts of the enterprise

 

Other barriers

Although data architecture is the first roadblock most people encounter in the real world, cost effectiveness is often the next one. It’s easy to say that moving applications to the cloud will be cost effective, but the law of unintended consequences means that if you don’t measure and plan carefully, your goals will only be met by luck, which is not a good strategy. You have to be able to identify precisely how your next initiative for moving an application to the cloud meets financial targets, and how you’re going to measure and monitor those targets.

 

Luckily, technology exists that allows you to simulate running applications in a cloud. Like integration woes, simulation isn’t new but its usefulness shines on the cloud—applications don’t always scale the way you think they will in terms of resource consumption. You need to do a simulation first to make sure that your migration is going to cost what you expect.

 

Lastly, there’s a classic, purely technical barrier to moving applications to the cloud: If you have thousands of applications you’ll find that some of them simply aren’t suitable for migration.  This could be because of the operating system they’re running on or the way the application is architected. The holy grail of application architecture—efficiency, elasticity and portability—aren’t going to be there for all your legacy applications.

 

With forethought and planning, and realizing that in the real world theory tends to fall apart, you can get the value you expect from the private cloud. Register to read “Succeed in the cloud with service lifecycle management.”

 

 

keithmacbeath.jpgWithin HP Software Professional Services, Keith is responsible for IT Performance Management solutions. These solutions help instill a performance-based culture in IT that focuses on business outcomes: tracking IT performance against measures that the business lives and breathes.

 

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