I recently had an interesting email discussion with a couple of my fellow colleagues here at Platform as well as Randy Bias, the CEO of CloudScaling, about what we think will be some of the primary drivers for private clouds in the enterprise. Not surprisingly, we predict that within many organizations the push to adopt cloud resources will split along departmental lines between business users and the IT department. Although buy-in from both sides of the organization will be necessary to make clouds successful, we believe that it will ultimately be the users—consumers of the cloud, if you will—that will drive its success. Here’s why…
Cloud computing is ultimately a business model change, not a technology change. It’s a huge shift in how IT departments are meant to operate—by giving users “self-service” IT and the ability to choose what resources they need and when they need them. In effect, private clouds are meant to decentralize the power of the IT department without taking away their control of the department’s overall resources and budget. Ideally, a cloud infrastructure should help IT departments have greater control over the resources they purchase and deploy and provide for greater reuse of IT resources across the board. It should also give users the power to access those resources when needed.
In many organizations the IT department and business departments function separately or, sometimes, even at cross purposes. The IT department is often perceived as being too slow and cumbersome to get things done—and with many departments being forced to function with lesser budgets these days, this is often true—they’re too busy and don’t have the resources necessary to make the kind of changes necessary to implement cloud infrastructures. Business users, on the other hand, tend to have more urgency around the projects they’re working on and usually are the ones within the organization pushing the envelope to get things done and driving the kind of business agility and speed that cloud computing offers.
I’ve observed this happening already with public cloud use. When business users perceive their IT departments to be a roadblock to getting their work done, a user will just pull out a credit card, buy some compute or storage time and charge it on their expense report—never to be seen by the IT department. Users get access to what they need in minutes, not weeks, and they don’t need to wade through a request system and queue to get it.
Of course, I’m not advocating that business users “go rogue” and skirt their IT departments to get things done – a lot of harm can result from this, both politically and from an infrastructure standpoint. But business- and action-driven needs may ultimately trump the old-ways of IT provisioning where IT doles out usage without user access. As private clouds continue to evolve, it may be that IT purchases and builds the private cloud, but the consumers of the cloud will determine its success.
We’re currently working on a whitepaper that addresses all these issues along with both the hard and soft ROI that such a model will deliver to both business and IT. Look for more on the ROI factor to come in the whitepaper and in this blog soon.
-Phil Morris, CTO of the HPC BU, Platform Computing