Have you noticed the shift in hype within computing news away from cloud computing? I have and I think this is great because the hype tends to distort the facts. Also, while the hype is fading, adoption of cloud computing continues to grow and is predicted to grow. Ryan Nichols published a story in Computerworld in August 2010 called “Cloud computing by the numbers: What do all the statistics mean?” where he outlined statistics from IDC, Gartner and Merrill Lynch all estimating dramatic increases in cloud computing adoption. Also in August of 2010, Andre R Hickey from ChannelWeb outlined a story on Small and Medium Business (SMB) spending on Cloud Computing sighting research from AMI partners that where they predict cloud computing adoption by SMB’s to exceed $95 billion by 2014. These are great predictions, however how are organizations going to make the switch from a dedicated server and network infrastructure to a scalable, on-demand model for delivering services?
Virtualization will be the key for many organizations as many large enterprises have already deployed virtualization and are learning what it takes to maintain and support a large virtualized infrastructure. Many think, and I agree that virtualization is the first phase toward cloud computing, while others already consider their virtual environments a cloud, which I do not want to dispute. Now, organizations need to master the support and scale of virtualization and then consider some sort of private or hybrid internal cloud before moving applications to the public cloud. Jon Oltsik is a Principal Analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group and recently wrote how “Many firms still struggle with performance issues when trying to align physical networks, storage devices, and servers with virtualization technology” and outlines how many organizations are not using the full features of virtualization like VMWare’s vmotion and vcloud to improve reliability and service delivery. I agree with Jon’s assessment and want to emphasize the importance of mastering your virtual infrastructure and providing a high level of support to your virtualized resources. Cloud computing offers improved elasticity and scaling which is also found in many virtual infrastructures, but having these capabilities are one thing, whereas actually taking advantage of these features is another thing.
For many organizations this is a change in mindset as they move their critical processing off of dedicated servers onto shared virtual resources, because the management of that shared virtualized infrastructure is now key to the delivery of all services. Organizations that grow accustom to the shifting and deploying of virtual resources will be one step closer to cloud and will make a easier transition to the use of external resources in the cloud.