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Enterprise Cloud Services

Enterprise Cloud Services: The agenda

By , Network World
February 07, 2011 12:03 AM ET

Network World - Cloud services have the potential to deliver important business benefits to the enterprise, including cost savings, flexibility, resiliency, agility, quicker time to market, better customer service and the ability to handle unexpected spikes in demand.

However, achieving those goals isn't going to be easy. Enterprises need to have a cloud-ready, virtualized infrastructure. They need to understand the different types and styles of cloud computing. They need to navigate through a complex decision-making process in order to determine which aspects of cloud services are the right fit. Then there's negotiating and managing contracts, keeping track of SLAs, and making sure security and compliance concerns are addressed.

This six-part series, which kicks off today and continues throughout the year, will provide a comprehensive guide to Enterprise Cloud Services. Today's package provides a set of clear definitions of cloud computing and the various models that are available to enterprise IT. It also includes a guide to preparing your network for the cloud, a discussion of the economics of cloud computing, and a look at the career opportunities that cloud computing can provide.

In future issues, we will dig into the public cloud vs. private cloud debate, provide a guide to working with SaaS and IaaS providers, examine the available management tools, look into cloud security options and analyze the cloud vendor landscape.

While there's no lack of uncertainty and questions when it comes to cloud computing, one thing is for sure: interest in cloud computing is sky high.

For example, when Deloitte Consulting began fielding questions on cloud computing around 18 months ago, 80% of the discussions centered on setting the stage, helping clients define cloud and understand what it might mean for them.

Only 15% of cloud conversations dug into actual road maps, strategies and pilots, with a mere 5% of engagements dealing with actual implementations of production solutions, says Mark White, CTO of the firm's technology practice.

Now the percentage breakdown is more along the lines of 10% setting the stage, 50% planning and 40% implementation, "with that continuing to swing more and more into production implementation as people get through the strategy and road map phase," White says.

Enterprises are adopting cloud computing at a quicker-than-anticipated rate, White says - a situation he attributes to the economic downturn that hit two years ago.

"The economic crunch caused people to really be interested in the cloud's Opex over Capex story and the ability to buy small and, if it works, to go big," he says. "That really accelerated adoption, and we're doing large-scale implementations now of private and public cloud services among our clients."

The fourth quarter of last year was a turning point for enterprises and their pursuit of cloud computing, says James Staten, vice president and principal analyst with Forrester Research. "That's when we started seeing IT's interest shift away from getting educated on the cloud to getting ready to invest in it," he says.

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