For enterprise IT, hybrid cloud management is a priority
IDC is forecasting that the total cloud systems management software market will total $2.5 billion by 2015. This market will encompass virtualization management, automated provisioning, self serve provisioning portals, dynamic consumption based metering and capacity analysis, service catalogs, end-to-end real time performance monitoring and related management software tools deployed into public and private cloud environments. These solutions will be purchased and deployed by service providers and end user customers. Adoption will ramp quickly as organizations reach a "tipping point" and move from cloud "sandboxes" to full blown production environments.
I expect many organizations will have heated debates about which services are best sourced from public cloud based SaaS, PaaS and IaaS providers vs which are best supported by internal corporate data center resources. Much of this debate will focus on the extent to which a service provider's standard service and pricing model fits the needs of the customer. Additionally, it will take years for many mission critical applications to transition from their current platforms to the cloud based world. As a result, I expect that the majority of organizations with more than 500 employees will rely on a hybrid mix of public, private and non-cloud IT resources for many years.
In my view, any CIO who cedes control of the corporate hybrid cloud management strategy to a third party is putting his or her company at risk.
In complex, heterogenous hybrid public/private cloud and legacy environments, it will be critical for corporate IT leaders to be the ones to define their company's services, SLAs, security policies, and chargeback mechanisms. While each organization will make its own choice about how to provision and source its applications and infrastructure requirements, control over the definition of the services, the cost structure and the quality of service delivered will continue to be the responsibility of corporate IT.
For organizations looking to take control of their organization's cloud strategy before third party vendors start to dictate the agenda, my advice is to focus on developing a repeatable governance process for defining and vetting service definitions and SLAs. Get a firm handle on current and expected cost structures and get business agreement on where the organization is willing to accept standardized public services and where competitive differentiation or business risk concerns dictate reliance on internal virtual and private cloud infrastructure or legacy platforms.
Many organizations that are experimenting with private cloud strategies today have focused on the automated, self serve provisioning of compute resources to specialized user groups such as application developers. While this is a good start, the use cases are too narrow to be generalized to the broader organization. Enterprise IT decision makers need to put more emphasis on broad-based service catalogs, service performance monitoring and optimization, and developing self service solutions that can provide larger groups of users and IT staff with a single sign-on portal to provision and monitor all IT services, whether sourced from public, private or non cloud infrastructure.
This will be a steep learning curve for many organizations but a necessary one for organizations that want to maintain control over service quality, cost and security in complex hybrid cloud environments.