Enterprises are going to invest more in private cloud infrastructures over the next couple of years while public cloud offerings mature, according to Gartner analysts.
During that time-from now until about 2012-businesses need to lay out a plan for their migration to cloud computing so they are ready to make the move as the computing model evolves, the analysts said in a report issued Dec. 1.
Gartner is hosting its annual Data Center Conference in Las Vegas Dec. 1-4.
Private clouds ultimately will be the first step for businesses as they move into cloud computing. Eventually they will use public clouds to some degree, and then combine the two to create hybrid cloud environments.
"The hype of cloud computing is that existing IT architectures and processes can be simply replaced by the cloud," Gartner analyst Tom Bittman said in a statement. "The reality of the future IT organization, however, is somewhat a combination. Larger enterprises will continue to have an IT organization that manages and deploys IT resources internally, some of which will be -private clouds.' IT organizations will also take on IT service sourcing responsibility, determining when to leverage external providers, when to deploy internally, and when to leverage both for specific services."
Vendors such as Amazon, Google and IBM already offer public cloud services, and more are looking to give businesses the tools to create private clouds within their own firewalls. There also is a push on to build offerings that will enable enterprises to move easily between private and public cloud environments.
The key for businesses now is to evaluate which services are destined for the cloud-private or public-and begin assessing whether those services can wait for public clouds to mature or should be more quickly placed into private clouds.
Enterprises also need to understand that not every service is best suited for the cloud, the analysts said.
"Each cloud service will have a different road map for the future-some should be focused on tighter integration, intimacy customization and differentiation for the business," Bittman said. "Others should be focused on independence, easy interfaces, standardization and eliminated customization and are therefore potential cloud service candidates."
Businesses need to get people and technologies in place to make the cloud environments work. For larger enterprises that have skilled IT help, sourcing teams will make day-to-day decisions around cloud services that will meet business needs. Smaller companies with fewer in-house IT resources will more likely use service brokers, which will take responsibility for these services in the cloud.
Gartner has outlined a three-step action plan for CIOs and IT professionals to follow to get their businesses ready for cloud computing. Enterprises should immediately experience with cloud computing and pull together a cloud initiative that encompasses the entire business.
Over the next three months, businesses should determine what services they will use, develop strategies around private and public clouds, and assess what new opportunities are arising due to cloud computing.
Over the following year, develop a cloud strategy and create a dynamic sourcing organization within the company, Gartner analysts said.