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Can You Handle the Cloud? Part Two

Last time Tom Brand, service manager – cloud solutions for GlassHouse Technologies (UK), blogged on ITProPortal he asked: are organisations ready for the cloud? He explores this further below and discusses issues of pricing and how IT departments can act as a ‘business within the business’.

With a few exceptions, most organisations have very rudimentary and ineffective chargeback models, if they exist at all. The allocation of resources is often based on approximate consumption percentages across the different business units, regularly resulting in certain units paying a higher price for their IT consumption.

Organisations find it very hard to understand the costs that make up a fully burdened unit of IT service and it is at this level that cloud pricing typically exists. Cloud service pricing is typically per user, application or resource, per minute, hour or month etc.

Organisations will have to implement mechanisms that allow these flexible cost models to be passed on to the end user whilst being able to accurately monitor and report on the consumption of services. The creation of service catalogues may even allow the business units to procure services directly from a chosen set of cloud providers.

In the world of in-house virtual infrastructures, virtual machine sprawl continues to be a growing issue for many IT departments. This is often caused by a lack of process and management. Virtual machine sprawl can have significant commercial implications due to wasted licensing, operations and infrastructure, but ultimately that costs is constrained by the physical infrastructure and when additional spend is required, an expenditure review will be undertaken.

The cap on expenditure or infrastructure doesn’t exist in most cloud services and therefore organisations looking to take advantage of IaaS who don’t have some level of virtual machine lifecycle management could potentially see an explosion in costs over time which could be difficult to track or budget for.

IT organisations that have existing virtual infrastructures and are considering a cloud computing strategy, based on IaaS, should start considering the deployment of lifecycle management well in advance of any transition to a cloud service.

Developing these processes and policies can be a lengthy activity that should be relatively mature by the time a cloud deployment takes place – putting them in place in parallel with a cloud migration could well be too late. By creating a standard set of templates and services available to end users, with clear guidelines on their limitations and uses, it will set the president for similar working methodologies when cloud is adopted.

The examples above are only a small subset of the key challenges organisations are likely to face in the lead up to the adoption of cloud computing.

What is perhaps more interesting is the fact organisations could see significant savings and efficiencies introduced today, without the cloud, by adopting some of the processes and policies required to run an infrastructure in the cloud.

With the right preparation, moving to an external cloud provider should simply be a case of outsourcing the infrastructure – not a complete cultural and commercial upheaval.