This report takes a straightforward approach to discussion of converged architecture: it posts six cloud objections, supports them with data, and then discusses ways in which converged systems help address the issue.
The first objection covered in the paper is "I don’t have cloud experts on staff to implement a private or hybrid cloud." Frost & Sullivan uses survey data to establish that 81% of firms plan to deploy cloud within the next five years, and then to show that 78% of businesses will rely on outside expertise to implement their cloud strategy, 38% have insufficient private cloud expertise on staff, and 30% struggle to keep up with new technology. Of the three, the cloud expertise finding is probably the most telling. Keeping pace with changes in IT is challenging — likely, for more than 30% of firms! — and it makes sense for organizations starting down the cloud path to engage outside experts when implementing a cloud strategy. What’s surprising about the third statistic isn’t that 38% of businesses have insufficient private cloud expertise on staff — it’s that the rest believe that they do. Private cloud deployments can be complex, especially for firms that haven’t invested in virtualizing their servers as a first step to the cloud.
As the document points out, there are trade-offs around private cloud: the configuration and deployment can be challenging, but the time spent on creating a cloud is rewarded with additional automation and standardization. Frost & Sullivan states that simplifying deployment via delivery of pre-integrated converged infrastructure reduces time-to-benefit and increases the time available for IT to work with clients rather than with the technology itself.
Objection two in the whitepaper is "my company doesn’t have available budget for a cloud initiative. Frost & Sullivan’s data shows that 52% of firms have flat IT budgets, and that 36% lack confidence in their ability to fund a new cloud project. The paper then introduces payback statistics illustrating the benefit of moving ahead with cloud: 61% of cloud users believe that cloud contributes to bottom-line results, and 71% believe that cloud reduces IT costs. Converged infrastructure, according to the report, helps to bridge this gap between current budget uncertainty and future benefit. It includes an example in which a U.S.-based healthcare provider was able to achieve rapid savings in physical infrastructure and related costs by moving to a cloud system based on converged infrastructure.
Later in the paper, we see another objection: "I have critical workloads running on legacy hardware that I can’t risk migrating." According to research presented in the paper, this objection includes both the migration itself — cited by 34% of respondents — and fears regarding "poor or inconsistent application performance in the cloud," which is offered as an objection by 55% of those surveyed by Frost & Sullivan. Interestingly, this served as a starting point for a discussion of cloud business planning at a recent InsightaaS/TechConnex event in Toronto. In that session (which featured HP’s Randy Milthorpe as a panelist), as in the Frost & Sullivan report, planning that takes advantage of templates (such as HP Cloud Maps) to facilitate design and deployment of new systems is an essential first step in building a successful cloud strategy.
Other cloud obstacles raised in the report — and the discussions illustrating the benefits of converged infrastructure in overcoming them — include:
- The risk of not obtaining line of business (LOB) buy-in. Via shadow IT, the report holds, LOBs have IT power today. Will they be willing to align with IT, the organization that they’re circumventing with cloud purchases? Just less than 25% of Frost & Sullivan’s survey respondents are unsure, but the company believes that cloud, as a key step in transforming IT "into a services-based business," will help IT to "gain back the trust" of LOB users.
- The desire to wait until cloud is "safer or more mature" before adopting. Issues like security, and a more general distrust of the unknown, are frequently cited as cloud adoption barriers. The converse point is that cloud infrastructure enables IT and business agility: according to Frost & Sullivan, 67% of U.S.-based cloud users report that t "adopting cloud services allows our company to enter new markets more quickly," and 61% state that cloud "positions their company to take advantage of new technologies."
- Difficulty in taking the first steps to the cloud. According to Frost & Sullivan, 44% of firms believe that "it is difficult to develop and implement a cloud strategy because there are so many choices and deployment options." As discussed above, this is a subject that effective cloud planning will address; Frost & Sullivan adds that "the right converged cloud system doesn’t require you to make a choice; it can serve as a foundation for your entire cloud strategy." This conclusion might be a stretch, but there’s little doubt that an efficient approach to private cloud is central to cloud adoption: ultimately, we expect that most SMBs using cloud will have private cloud deployed, as a stand-alone strategy, as a component of hybrid cloud, and/or in conjunction with public or hybrid delivery models.
Note: this is one of three reports reviewed in the "Demystifying private cloud" series. To access a guide to the material covered in the series, please click here.
To access the Six Barriers to Cloud — and How a Converged System Helps Overcome Them report, please click here.