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May - 2012 - issue > Technology
Suhas Kelkar
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
The global cloud computing market is expected to grow to $121 billion by 2015, up from $37.8 billion in 2010, according to industry reports. The Asia- Pacific (APAC) region is no exception to this phenomenal growth, as the adoption of cloud computing is driven by businesses looking to respond faster to market needs. Small, medium, and large businesses all are looking to take advantage of the cloud. Governments and public sector organizations in APAC also are very active in adopting cloud computing. There are many examples of government cloud initiatives, such as India’s Unique Identity Number (UID) program and the Australian Government's cloud strategy.

Organizations begin cloud initiatives for many reasons. Yet, whether the goal is to lower costs, automate more functions, or reduce time to deployment, taking on initiatives that are too broad in scope can be tantamount to "boiling the ocean"— so ambitious as to be impractical. While the pressure is on to join the massive rush to the cloud, doing so without thoughtful planning can create problems down the road. The question businesses should be asking isn’t how to transition to the cloud, but rather what are the key factors to consider when deploying a cloud solution.

Most important is for CIOs to begin to understand the value of cloud computing and how it can be used to solve their business needs. We would not tell each CIO we meet to move to the cloud immediately, because that may not meet their unique business needs. Instead, our recommendation is for CIOs to first understand that their business objectives should be driving their cloud strategy, rather than the other way round. It is crucial at this stage to work with the key business leaders whose businesses are going to be impacted directly with the implementation of a cloud strategy.

Although outlining a cloud strategy could be a time-consuming and difficult process, this step is crucial to integrating cloud solutions with existing IT systems. In most cloud scenarios, it is unlikely that everything will move to a cloud model all at once, so even the simplest migrations will require some form of integration.

We've identified three key considerations to guide IT decision makers as they integrate cloud solutions with their existing systems. First, the most effective way for companies to bridge the gap between their existing systems and the cloud solution is to use tools that are specifically designed for cloud integration. For example, BMC's Cloud Lifecycle Management solution provides an administrative portal where IT staff can configure their cloud solution based on unique business needs. This is important as companies tend to reuse older technology or build their own tools rather than using service-provider solutions that are specially designed to integrate both old and new systems.

The second key consideration is data flexibility. Previously, business innovation was hindered by the inability of IT to quickly adapt to new business processes. With cloud computing, businesses now have an opportunity to reshape IT in a way that enables, rather than inhibits, flexibility. With numerous existing services and applications, IT decision makers should identify cloud solutions that can provide a level of flexibility to accept the various forms of data. Through data integration, the need for additional resources to make sense of existing applications is minimized, thereby maximizing the value of the cloud solution. This robust system of exchanging, analyzing, and presenting data is a critical component for integrating cloud with a variety of existing infrastructure technology at a low cost.

The third consideration is cloud workloads. In a cloud environment, both manual and automated processes coexist in the same ecosystem. Companies need to streamline their IT processes through assessing which manual processes would make sense to move to the cloud. Select certain workloads, such as e-mail and collaboration, to move to the cloud and evaluate them against other models based on the value they bring to business growth. This integration process represents a shift from managing tasks to managing and supporting cloud platforms and solutions. Although this transition process might be difficult, IT decision makers must anticipate and accommodate the impact of cloud transition and integration.

Integrating the cloud is not about replacing everything, but rather about building on existing solutions and taking advantage of cloud enhancements that make things easier and improve business processes. We believe smart cloud integration equates to greater business efficiency. If companies ignore integration until an issue arises, unnecessary time will be spent on finding replacement solutions rather than reaping the benefits of greater business efficiency.

Cloud computing is all about uniformity and computability — all your systems acting as one. As we've seen many times, cloud, when implemented correctly, can optimize your resources, thus providing new efficiencies and more flexible cost structures. In today's tough economic conditions, it is vital that all existing applications and data work the same way, regardless of the cloud provider or the type of platform.

The article is co-authored by Suhas Kelkar, CTO APAC, BMC Software, and Eric Blum, CTO EMEA, BMC Software.

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