The changing cloud landscape

Identifying which cloud services meet organisational objectives will be key this year as firms consider the hybrid approach in response to expanding cloud opportunities.

A hybrid cloud is an option for companies that have already adopted private clouds or for those not sure about putting too much data or high numbers of apps in the public cloud.

This year businesses have tough decisions to make when it comes to cloud deployments. Much talk surrounds the end of support for Windows Server 2003 for instance, a juncture that, among other things, could provide a catalyst for some firms to make the switch from in-house data centres to the cloud.

This HP whitepaper considers the changing cloud landscape, the issues around public, private and hybrid clouds, achieving simpler cloud management, and efficiently and securely delivering apps and services in the cloud.

While the cloud is already a part of day-to-day office life, by supporting productivity apps like email, document sharing and personal storage, many businesses still struggle with identifying which cloud service is right for their organisation when it comes to meeting major organisational objectives.

This is despite almost half of all businesses (44 per cent) having a mandate for cloud deployments, according to a survey of 245 IT managers at the recent Insight Technology Show in Manchester, attended by top cloud technology companies like HP, Microsoft and Cisco.

For those looking towards flexible and remote working or maximising business agility with mobile devices, cloud is certainly key. Yet cloud, according to the survey, is just as important for those businesses looking to store corporate data (41 per cent) and for those seeking to improve collaboration (20 per cent) and internal communications such as email (46 per cent).

With over 40 per cent of firms still not having a strategy in place for when Windows Server 2003 support comes to an end this July, there’s more than a suggestion that businesses still have problems making decisions when it comes to the cloud.

Ash Patel, EMEA cloud director at IT services firm Insight, which organised the show, says: “Although cloud forms the IT backbone for many activities we take for granted, businesses are faced with lots of questions around deployments. Without the correct due diligence mistakes can be made, so it’s important to ascertain the real motives behind wanting cloud and which cloud strategy to pursue for your business.”

Without that due diligence factors such as choosing too many different clouds without consideration for management and provisioning can lead to IT management headaches, added costs and network complexities.

“Assessing the right workloads for the cloud is vital,” says Patel, “Do organisations invest in new infrastructure like servers? Offset to a hosted environment or even take the step towards the public cloud? As we move through 2015 I think we’ll see savvy businesses looking ever more closely into the benefits of a hybrid infrastructure as they deploy cloud services.”

A hybrid model can offer the first safe steps into the cloud for organisations that know there are benefits to be enjoyed, but who are unable, for a variety of reasons, to move as fast as others when migrating different apps and processes.

When considering a cloud deployment organisations must first assess their network for cloud suitability, consider how to handle their unstructured data, and decide what data and applications they can reliably and securely put into the cloud.

Firms should also take account of the fact that whole processes do not necessarily have to move into the cloud. For instance, companies can host an application and the data in their own data centre, while still migrating a chunk of its functionality into the cloud through a platform-as-a-service arrangement.

In addition, firms may also need to map out a data flow relating to the cloud service under consideration. They should consider the data flow between their organisation, the cloud service provider, and any customers, partners or other cloud connections. Such a data flow will show how data can move in and out of the cloud, illustrating the security requirements.

They must also complete a user impact assessment, consider how legacy systems can be integrated with cloud applications and systems, plan a cloud migration strategy, and educate users about safe cloud use.

When it comes to finding a cloud solution to address all the needs of organisations in avoiding the cloud pitfalls, HP says it should be strongly considered as a result of of its product offering and its growing cloud ecosystem of partners, all committed to open standards.

The HP Helion offering consists of a number of products and services that address the needs of cloud deployment, cloud management and cloud security, and central to this is HP Helion Openstack, the management platform that all organisations can use to build their clouds.

In addition, the new HP Helion Network is designed to bring improved cloud service levels to organisations. Through HP technology and the experience of HP cloud partners and resellers, the HP Helion Network is leveraging an open, secure and agile hybrid IT environment, that prevents vendor lock-in and enables workload portability between on- and off-premise resources.

And with all this organisations can access an enterprise-grade cloud services portfolio which adheres to country-specific regulations for data sovereignty, retention and protection.

Additional information on HP Helion can be found here.