Tag: PaaS

Cloud: The Network Itch | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

During the past several weeks, Everest Group’s ITO team has had multiple debates about the various levers that govern the cloud services industry. The growing consensus has been that service orientations, *aaS (BPaaS, SaaS, PaaS and IaaS), are the strength levers with which the cloud service providers will play. So, for example, a Rackspace (IaaS) will host a Salesforce.com (SaaS) on a Microsoft Azure (PaaS) platform, completing the cloud landscape. Just one glance across the *aaS firmament and the stories appear similar. The cloud portrait seemed complete and nailed to the wall for posterity.

However, a statement by Steve Caniano, VP of AT&T Hosting and Cloud Services – “What is key for us is the ability to leverage the cloud as part of a network service experience – without a network you don’t have a cloud” – took our debates in another direction.

“Without a network you don’t have a cloud”

While the services side of the cloud has dazzled the industry, the infrastructure side – consisting of data centers and network – has seemed dreary. After all, network and storage are considered hygiene requirements for the cloud infrastructure. They also appear to have been relegated to commodities, as both the network and storage markets have experienced intense competitive and pricing pressures. Our feeling is that saying there cannot be a cloud without a network is akin to taunting a Ferrari owner that his or her sports wonder car is no good without Michelin tires. True, the owner may have a momentary nightmare of the beaming red Ferrari’s chassis lying flat on the ground. But it isn’t a real worry, as Bridgestone, Goodyear, and other tire brands are also options. So, can I pat myself on my back and say I nailed this “cloud without a network” debate with this repartee and sign off on this blog?

A growing tribe of telecom firms thinks otherwise. Verizon, CenturyLink and AT&T have all recently made big investments in cloud – acquisitions of Terremark and Savvis are still fresh, and AT&T has put up a US$1 billion corpus fund for its cloud initiative. Additionally, the cloud-focused consolidation happening in the telecom industry has coincided with the growing activity in the cloud services industry. The next generation of networks (4G and 5G) have enticed many new cloud initiatives. Apple’s iCloud is an example.

In the debate that ensued within my team on this topic, a colleague reminded that the whole concept of cloud comes from telecommunications, and that public telephony was the first cloud ever. With this legacy in mind, can we assume that control over network and bandwidths will help telecom companies define the rules of the cloud?

Taking this debate external, is network:

  • Just a part of the cloud (and the real money lies with systems integration and advisory)?
  • An enabler of the cloud?
  • The cloud itself?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Cloud Services and CFOs’ Triple Hat Role | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

We had the pleasure this week of participating in a CFO Forum hosted by TechAmerica, along with representatives from Microsoft, Softlayer and SOURCE, on the topic of “Navigating the Cloud.” The overall discussion focused on the benefits of the rapidly expanding universe of cloud services, along with key risk, compliance and security considerations for CFOs. During the panel discussion and audience Q&A, it became apparent that CFOs wear three different hats when thinking about the cloud:

CFO as Cloud User – like everyone else, CFOs are potential users of cloud services, primarily via ERP and F&A-related SaaS offerings. Discussion in this area focused on several topics:

  • Cloud ERP and accounting solutions from vendors like NetSuite and Intacct have been traditionally focused almost exclusively on SMBs. Though still early, enterprise options are emerging from cloud-focused vendors such as Workday. CFOs need to keep on top of the rapidly evolving set of alternatives that exist for the F&A function.
  • New cloud deployment models are emerging for ERP, such as the ability to run SAP on virtualized private clouds, and availability of select modules through public multi-tenant models. CFOs need to realize that it’s not just SaaS or nothing – new models are being introduced that capture virtualization and private cloud benefits without the perceived risks of moving sensitive financial data to the public cloud.

CFO as Cloud Buyer – the second major relationship CFOs have with the cloud is as a buyer, given the ownership they have over corporate and IT budgeting processes and spend. Points mentioned during the Forum included:

  • CFOs should give strong consideration to “Cloud First” policies such as one recently announced by Vivek Kundra, CIO of the United States, who is seeking to move 25 percent of the Federal Government’s IT budget to cloud services. The policy doesn’t say that cloud should be adopted whenever available, but rather that it be strongly considered “whenever a secure, reliable, cost-effective cloud option exists.” Sounds like a smart policy for the private sector as well.
  • CFOs should also work with CIOs and business owners to ensure that a comprehensive assessment has been made of the potential value of migrating to cloud services at the SaaS, IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) and PaaS (platform-as-a-service)levels, and that an overall transformation plan exists. Many experiments currently exist, but there is little understanding of where adoption goes after that.

CFO as Fiduciary – the panel also explored the impact of the cloud on CFOs fiduciary responsibilities for the organization.

  • Duke Skarda, CTO of Softlayer, described the four categories of risk in the cloud that CFOs need to evaluate: compliance, governance, security, and disaster recovery. As with cloud services overall, there’s no one right answer – organizations need to understand their risk posture, requirements, vendor capabilities, and supporting SLAs and contractual agreements. It was also noted that, in some cases, cloud services can actually serve to decrease organizational risk profiles.
  • CFOs need to understand any potential impacts of applicable compliance or data privacy regulations (especially in Europe) on where and how they can leverage cloud services.
  • IT policies and controls themselves don’t necessarily change with cloud services, but how they are implemented likely will. CFOs need to ensure IT has taken the right steps to implement appropriate governance and control of cloud services.

Overall, it was a great discussion, with interesting questions and comments from a very engaged CFO audience.

Welcome to “Gaining Altitude in the Cloud” — Another Blog on the Cloud? | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Does the world really need another blog about the cloud?

Here at Everest Group we believe the answer is a resounding yes.

The “signal to noise” ratio around the cloud is reaching a fever pitch.  In fact, the hype alone has driven most enterprises to dip their toe in the water with initial pilots and “experiments.”  While moving dev / test environments to the cloud is a good thing, we believe most enterprises should be moving faster and smarter.

What’s missing in the current market conversation about the cloud?

Real, data-driven perspectives on the true ROI and business impact enterprises can expect to see, and in many cases are seeing from the cloud.  In what scenarios do IAAS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) or StaaS (Storage-as-a-Service) offerings make sense in a given enterprise, and from which vendor?  Can IAAS and cloud services make sense today even if data center assets are fully depreciated?  Can 90 percent of the economic benefits of the cloud be captured via private cloud and virtualization?  Or is there more on the table to be gained?  While opinions on these topics abound, fact-based analysis is hard to find.  And we think the answers might surprise you.

Our goal with “Gaining Altitude in the Cloud” is to create a forum to help enterprise decision-makers, cloud service providers and technology infrastructure vendors better understand the underlying customer economics driving cloud adoption dynamics.  Our blog will take a comprehensive view and look across enterprise-class cloud services and major vendors in the areas of:

  • BPaaS (Business Process as a Service)
  • SaaS (Software as a Service)
  • PaaS (Platform as a Service)
  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
  • StaaS (Storage as a Service)

We’ll be featuring best practices, case studies and insights and analysis on how cloud and other next generation IT technologies and services are driving fundamental changes in the economics of IT.   By providing customer-centric, vendor-neutral analysis of cloud economics, we hope to inject a much better fact base into the market conversation.

We’re looking forward to the discussion – we hope you are as well!

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