The term “the Cloud” is really a misnomer.  Within cloud services, there are many different cloud environments, and few companies have their IT systems residing in just one.  Instead, organizations that migrate to “the Cloud” usually do so in stages, selecting the right cloud environment for each type of workload and application requirements.

In fact, a recent study by 451 Research revealed that two-thirds of organizations surveyed have mixed-cloud or hybrid cloud environments in place to maximize their IT investments and improve performance and availability.

“Different applications will move to different environments based on different factors. There is no one cloud to rule them all,” said Melanie Posey, vice president of research for 451 Research, in the webinar: 2017 Cloud Market Overview.

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There are pros and cons to each of the four main types of cloud environments -- on-premise private cloud, hosted private cloud, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) —and Posey recommends that companies follow a Best Execution Venue (BEV) approach to select the best fit for an application.  BEV involves listing the key requirements for each type of workload and the goals of the company, and selecting the environment that delivers optimum results – be that rock-solid reliability, fast performance, scalability, accessibility, security, compliance, etc.

For example, big data applications need more bandwidth so it makes sense to host those workloads in a private, on-premise cloud, whereas sales or field support applications might do better in a public SaaS environment where mobile and remote users have easy accessibility.  Other considerations, said Posey, include the maximization of existing IT investments and the desire to extend computing resources through operating expenses rather than more capital investment. A large legacy application that a company has invested in developing and maintaining could be extended by adapting it to an on-premise private cloud rather than replacing it. For brand new applications, organizations can acquire them more quickly, without any capital outlay, by going the SaaS route.

Cloud environment matched to common workload requirements

From 451 Research:

  • On-premise private cloud: purpose-built legacy applications, IT governance concerns, data residency requirements, data-intensive or latency-sensitive workloads, and steady-state workloads.
  • Hosted private clouds: operating costs preferred over capital outlays, lack of in-house cloud management skills, steady-state external-facing workloads, distributed user population
  • Public IaaS clouds: on-demand and elastic scalability required, process-intense computing, highly distributed and external-facing workloads, cloud-native development approach.
  • Public SaaS cloud: no-ops environments, version control needs, standardized identity access and management, managed scalability and complexity challenges.

Email and collaborative applications are the most common SaaS applications, with 36% of those workloads operating in SaaS environments today and with a projected growth to 46% in two years. Posey noted that the value of SaaS for this category is the ability to easily provide standardized and consistent functionality to large groups of geographically distributed users, while also decreasing costs.  Web and media applications are more often placed on IaaS; 20% of those workloads are on IaaS today, with 27% projected in two years. Overall, the cloud services market is expected to continue the fast pace of growth.

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Ideally cloud providers parallel necessary requirements

Before embarking on a cloud project or solution with a cloud services provider, it’s helpful to identify key requirements for each application, such as high security, rapid scalability, help with governance issues, or ability to manage the migration process. Another important capability is support for multiple environments, either through its own data centers or via partnerships with other providers like Microsoft and AWS.  Industry-specific expertise is also a top-noted request.

No two organizations have the exact same cloud needs.  One manufacturing company mentioned in the 451 Research survey required a cloud solution provider with expertise in the manufacturing domain and the ability to keep “our manufacturing execution system functioning at better operational efficiency than legacy ERP.”

Another company with 10,000+ employees wanted “completeness of the solution” with a consistent deployment model, zero tolerance data privacy, strong governance, and real-time tracking of non-compliant events.

Yet a third, a large enterprise with 30,000+ employees, wanted optimum scalability and options for cost savings; while two mid-sized firms needed providers with the expertise to help them chart a long-term cloud strategy and enterprise level technical support.

In this hybrid cloud world, expert guidance and experience is key, and becoming increasingly important given the skills shortage that IT organizations are experiencing.

“There’s a cultural gap in cloud adoption. Different skill sets are needed, and behaviors as well,” said Posey. “Agility and flexibility have to be combined with governance, and that’s a problem for many organizations. That’s where a cloud provider can help.”

Denny Heaberlin is the Director of Strategic Alliances at TierPoint.  His team is responsible for the mature go-to-market strategies with a select group of key OEM alliance partners, managing merger and acquisition partners and coordinating analyst relations.  Denny has been part of the TierPoint team for nearly a decade and enjoys keeping pace with the ever-changing world of technology.

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