Where to Start in the Cloud?

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-12-09 Print this article Print


Where to Start in the Cloud?

But if federal agencies are to take a cue from Burton and jump in, which applications should they start with?

At least one panelist said enterprises moving to the cloud should be prepared to make all new systems cloud-ready. "I see a very strong move with CIOs saying every new piece of technology needs to be ready to move into the cloud, whether they move them or not." Moreover, there could be external triggers that prompt enterprises to move certain applications into the cloud, such as a software license expiring.

But where to start? Everybody has their view, but collaboration applications appear to be a common denominator as a potential starting point.

Collaborative apps are "relatively easy to move into the cloud," Vogels said. "It's relatively painless and you get a little learning out of this. A very surprising application for me that falls into this early learning phase is HR. And it works because HR apps tend to be seasonal. Dev and test is another one. I also see a lot of uptake in customers moving disaster recovery to the cloud." However, "for traditional IT there are not that many ERP systems moving to the cloud," Vogels said.

IBM's Hill said Big Blue has been spending a lot of time lately implementing private clouds for governments, banks and other installations with sensitive data and workload issues.

"What we're finding is it's workload driven," Hill said regarding which applications are ready to move to the cloud. "You have to standardize on services. We see enterprises starting with dev and test, and collaboration is a big space for the cloud. ERP is not ready yet; it's a thing that's highly configurable. Also, transaction processing is not ready yet."

On his list of applications ready for easy "on-ramp" to the cloud, Burton listed: case management, project management, economic development, grant management, service management, travel and tourism, and housing applications, among others.

 A Practical View of the Cloud

Offering a "more practical view" of the move to the cloud, Intel's Rampalli said, "There's the promise and the hype, and there's the reality" of the cloud. Among the pain points in moving to the cloud, Rampalli listed the integration of compute, network and storage infrastructure; the issue of VM (virtual machine) sprawl and the need for more and better management tools; security; and federation of the cloud. These are concerns users should be aware of, and Intel is attacking these issues, he said.

However, Vogels said he did not agree about there being a lack of management tools, and cited IBM's Tivoli and BMC's technology as evidence of available tools. Rampalli acknowledged that there are "islands of automation" available but no broadly available tool to deal with the overall problem.

Khalidi added that "there are tools like Tivoli and [Microsoft's] System Center. ... And we learn from VM sprawl." Yet "we do believe at the bottom layer you need to have basic automation to drive cost out."

To this point, Google's Feigenbaum shot back: "When you're buying a SAAS [software-as-a-service] solution, you're out of that business. You're buying a package and to some extent you're indifferent to what it's costing them. So we're seeing a tremendous uptake in moving e-mail-through our enterprise Gmail-to the cloud."

In response, Khalidi simply said, "Cost has to flow through," meaning that any extra cost incurred by the supplier will find its way to customers.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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