Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cloud Computing reality check

John spoke to some folks and despite concerns there see to be growing interest in Cloud Computing. Obviously it is very clear that we were focusing on the wrong layer a bit too long (Virtualization, I mean) and its rapid commoditization with the increasingly (aspirational) consumerization of IT.

Following is a recap of some of what was discussed during those two sessions:

• One big question people had was how to go about integrating cloud-based applications and data with on-premises applications and data. This will be an issue for virtually any company moving into the cloud. As just one example of how that might be done, SnapLogic offers integration packs designed to work with some software as a service applications. InformationWeek will take a deeper dive into this subject in the next few weeks.

• A related issue is data quality. As companies move e-mail and other applications into the cloud, the integration points (Active Directory, for example) will become weak links and IT problems if your data isn't clean.

• There are a range of IT governance issues, not the least of which is e-discovery. Some questions that came up: How do you run e-discovery against hosted e-mail? And what privacy protections are in place so that your company's legal experts can access what's needed, but not the cloud service provider? Another way of looking at this is the "chain of custody" of your corporate data in the cloud.

• The point was made that many IT departments overlook or underestimate the network bandwidth requirements for cloud computing. One CIO said he increased network capacity by a factor of five when he moved some of his company's IT workload intoAmazon (NSDQ: AMZN)'s Elastic Compute Cloud. That's not a rule of thumb for everyone, but it's a good example of what one company had to do.

• There were a lot of questions, and not many answers, on service level agreements. It became clear that IT pros need to do their homework on SLAs as they shop among cloud service options.


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