February 12, 2012, 7:24 AM — Cloud computing has gone from being a promising technology to a reality that brings a unique set of challenges along with benefits. To fully leverage the disruptive potential of cloud without getting trapped in a web of integration complexity, CIOs and their IT organizations need to focus on what it means to rethink their business as a collection of services.
IT organizations now have a bewildering array of options at their disposal--private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud and, of course, on-premise installations. In most organizations, according to Deloitte Consulting's Mark White and Bill Briggs, adoption is no longer about cloud; it's about clouds.
"As cloud offerings added vertical business capability offerings to the horizontal IT capacity services, the adoption question changed from "if" to "when"--and the answer is frequently "now,"" White, principal and CTO of Deloitte Consulting, and Briggs, director and deputy CTO, write in their Tech Trends 2012: Elevate IT for Digital Business report, released last week. "Along the way, leading organizations moved from cautious exploration to the reality of multiple individual cloud offerings handling critical pieces of their business operations-and sourced from multiple public and private providers."
In other words, forget public cloud and private cloud. Hybrid cloud, composed of at least one public cloud and at least one private cloud, is where it's at. In fact, White and Briggs said businesses are increasingly willing to deploy multiple applications and infrastructure services on cloud platforms. Deloitte calls this the "hyper-hybrid cloud," in which multiple clouds must link back to the core and often to each other.
"In each instance, these offerings needed to be connected back to the core of the business, often through traditional data-driven on-premise integration solutions," they said. "Advance one step further and the organization is managing both exception and routine workflow across a growing range of disparate cloud offerings with point-to-point links to legacy systems and data. This shift from 'cloud' to 'clouds' provides new opportunities, but it also brings challenges beyond just integration-security, data integrity and reliability, and business rules management for business processes that depend on enterprise IT assets composed with one or more services."
While dealing with these challenges, IT shops need to keep up the on-premise side as well, because it's not likely to go anywhere soon, even in organizations that are eagerly consuming cloud services.