With more and more aspects of corporate IT moving into the cloud, the challenge for companies assessing the possibilities is knowing which bits of the new digital service economy are a good fit for them.
Gavin Lockhart, Senior Consultant Engineer with Ergo, speaks to Alex Meehan about how Ergo is seeing a growth in customer's looking to integrate private cloud solutions that are on-site with hybrid solutions where they're going into either platform or infrastructure.
"Platform as a service is something that we’re not seeing quite as much of at the moment, but we are seeing quite a lot of clients taking on things like customer relationship management (CRM) in the form of Dynamics or Salesforce,” he said. “We’re also seeing SQL as a service being used up in Microsoft Azure, and in addition, we work with many pharmaceutical companies that are using shared services such as IAAS in a shared environment for certain parts of their back infrastructure and then they have a private component for pharmaceutical regulatory reasons.”
Lockhart confirmed that interest in IAAS and PAAS is growing at the moment and is likely to continue to do so.
“At the moment we’re working on a tender where a client is trying to consolidate eight or nine data centres around the world into one or two locations – one primary and then a disaster recovery location,” he said.
“That’s typical of how companies are bringing their cloud-enabled services together. At the same time, two or three years ago we started to see a bigger uptake in Azure services and Amazon Web Services as clients wanted to move specific components of their environment. So we’re not really seeing companies move everything up into the cloud, just certain workloads including their infrastructure.”
The reason for this is that in many people’s estimation, not all workloads are suitable for a public environment.
“For different compliance and security reasons, as well as in terms of performance, not all workloads are suitable for a public environment. In some cases, it would also cost so much to get the required performance that is required up in the cloud, that it’s better value for some companies to run these workloads on their own premises or else to run it on their own hardware in a data centre.”
The future of IAAS and PAAS is likely to see a convergence of some of the technologies in operation today, but Lockhart doesn’t foresee a time when companies will move all of their IT into the cloud.
“I don’t think it’s ever going to be a case of everything moving that way. It’s always going to be a hybrid situation but I do think more and more IT will move that way and probably what will happen in the not too distant future is that we will see private cloud offerings coming from some of the big guys like Amazon and Microsoft,” he said. “The intersection between the cost and the security implications will move to the point that people will be comfortable with it, and we’ll see private cloud as a service offered. That’s when it will change and we’ll see a lot more move up.”
At the moment, that kind of service doesn’t exist, with the major industry players like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Air and VMWare offering shared services. “Until those guys start touting those type of private cloud as a service offerings in their catalogue, I think things will remain hybridised because it’s all down to what the requirements of the application or the services are,” said Lockhart.
At the moment, IAAS and PAAS in the public cloud aren’t necessarily the right fit for every company, and in some cases it can make sense for companies like Ergo to steer their clients towards private cloud infrastructure instead.
“There can be compliance reasons that mean that a private cloud is a good option and then if there’re other reasons, for instance, serious performance and latency issues whereby it needs to be near other elements of a system where there’s information being fed in from different systems, well then maybe it’s not a good idea to move all of that stuff into the cloud,” he said.
“Another company that we’re looking at at the moment is very interested in moving its IT environment lock, stock and barrel into the cloud and we looked at a couple of options for them and really the best option is a private cloud because all of its systems are so integrated together and it has huge latency requirements. It needs really low latency rates between all of its different applications and for that reason you can’t really just start moving parts of it online. “You’ve got to move it all and sundry. Our strategy was that the best thing to do was to leave everything that they had on site, build a mirror environment in a private data centre and then set the private data centre up as a disaster recovery (DR) site and fail everything over onto that DR site."
“Eventually that DR site becomes the production environment and their onsite location becomes the DR centre. It’s just different horses for different courses really.”
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