Andrew Rigby explains the benefits that cloud computing has to offer and the dangers for those that choose to ignore it.
Why should companies embrace cloud computing and in what way will it improve their operational efficiency?
Andrew Rigby. Many organisations are still stuck in an inefficient model of utilising physical infrastructure. As such, virtualisation, which the ability to run multiple applications and operating systems on a single server by creating ‘virtual machines’, has carved its success.
Cloud computing is the evolution of this shift and addresses virtualisation issues by off-loading management of virtual infrastructure by moving into ‘the cloud’. Put simply, the cloud is a fully developed virtual data centre, supported by companies that have the expertise and resources to manage companies’ virtual infrastructure efficiently and securely. As a result, companies reap the benefits: lower total cost of ownership whilst capitalising on the advantage of higher availability, enhanced scalability and massive flexibility.
How can companies prepare themselves for the move to the cloud?
AR. Moving corporate data to the cloud is not a tactical decision. It requires a business transformation. Companies first need to fully understand what they are trying to achieve and determine if objectives can be met through a cloud strategy. This step is made possible by working with consultants who can analyse infrastructure, determine benefits and map out strategy. Only then can the requisite mobilisation and transitioning services be put into place.
What implementation challenges and potential pitfalls must companies work to avoid when deploying cloud computing solutions?
AR. IT teams often think they’ve taken the necessary steps to virtualise their infrastructure to prepare for a move to the cloud, when in fact they’ve only completed a fraction of the virtualisation they should to optimise investments. They could be leaving volumes of space on servers unused making the investment almost not worth the effort.
Moving to the cloud is a significant undertaking, starting with deploying an optimised virtual environment. Experts can evaluate the environment in order to engineer the most effective cloud solution.
It is also important for companies to understand that they have options for cloud deployments. Virtustream recently introduced a hybrid enterprise cloud platform called xStream that gives companies the flexibility to manage data that is completely on-premise (within the company’s own data centre), completely off-premise or a mix of on and off premise.
How can they ensure they will be working on a secure platform and that their data will be protected?
AR. Because many cloud environments are multi-tenanted, companies often express security concerns. First, they should determine if they feel comfortable with their virtual data centre being housed in a multi-tenanted environment, where infrastructure is shared (though shared securely). If so, look at cloud providers’ access policy to ensure that the information in the companies’ virtual data centre is secure. There should be no overlap in access from one virtual data centre to the next, which can be achieved by implementing security technology and policies to ensure data moves securely from the moment it enters the data centre.
An additional level of security that providers can deliver is the ability to audit or restrict access to information. The ability to offer this level of security separates private enterprise clouds from the less secure public clouds. Providers of private enterprise clouds, like Virtustream, will be conservative about sharing security information, and when companies engage with these providers, they can more thoroughly outline security best practices.
What will happen to those companies that choose to ignore the cloud computing revolution?
AR. Cloud computing is expected to grow as more companies understand the benefits. More conservative companies may be hesitant to embrace the cloud, but they stand to lose market share to more nimble competitors that can leverage benefits to lower operational and product costs.
Additionally, data centre space is becoming increasingly difficult to come by and more expensive. Pair this with national attention on companies’ carbon footprints and power consumption, running inefficient, expensive physical infrastructure will become even more detrimental to companies’ overall business strategy.
Andrew Rigby is General Manager EMEA Region, Virtustream. He supports Virtustream’s growth strategy throughout Europe, bringing more than 26 years experience in information technology and the skills to oversee international operations. Rigby joined Virtustream from IBM where he held several executive leadership roles focusing on resolving complex business and IT related issues for clients in various vertical industries.