What's holding back the cloud industry?

Cloud enthusiasts blame processes, not technology

While cloud enthusiasts roaming the halls of McCormick Place convention hall in Chicago last week at Cloud Connect may be high on the market, the reality is that many enterprises IT shops are still reticent to fully embrace public cloud computing.  

Network World asked some of the best and brightest minds in the industry who were at the event about what’s holding the cloud industry back. Here’s what they said:

[MORE CLOUD: How the cloud is blowing up the network]

The organizationEric Hanselman, Chief Analyst, 451 Research Group

Cloud sounds like a great idea, but how will it really work when it’s adopted? Hanselman says one of the biggest barriers is an organizational one. Typically IT organizations are split into groups focusing on compute, network and storage. When applications run from the cloud, those are all managed from one provider. That means the jobs from each of those groups within IT may change. How can organizations evolve? “You’ve got to converge,” Hansleman says. That could be easier said than done with people’s jobs at stake.

cloud computing

Cloud industry thought leaders (from left): Eric Hanselman, Krishnan Subramanian, Randy Bias, Bernard Golden, Andy Knosp

Security and application integrationKrishnan Subramanian, director of OpenShift Strategy at Red Hat; founder of Rishidot Research

Security is still the biggest concern that enterprises point to with the cloud. Is that justified? Cloud providers spend a lot of money and resources to keep their services secure, but Subramanian says it’s almost an instinctual reaction that IT pros be concerned about cloud security. “Part of that is lack of education” he says. Vendors could be more forthcoming with the architecture of their cloud platforms and the security around it. But doing so isn’t an easy decision for IaaS providers: Vendors don’t want to give away the trade secrets of how their cloud is run, yet they need to provide enough detail to assuage enterprise concerns.

Once IT shops get beyond the perceived security risks, integrating the cloud with legacy systems is their biggest technical challenge, Subramanian says. It’s still just not worth it for organizations to completely rewrite their applications to run them in the cloud. Companies have on-premises options for managing their IT resources and there just isn’t a compelling enough reason yet to migrate them to the cloud. Perhaps new applications and initiatives will be born in the cloud, but that presents challenges around the connections between the premises and the cloud, and related latency issues.

New apps for a new computing modelRandy Bias, CTO of OpenStack company Cloudscaling

If you’re using cloud computing to deliver legacy enterprise applications, you’re doing it wrong, Bias says. Cloud computing is fundamentally a paradigm shift, similar to the progression from mainframes to client-server computing. Organizations shouldn’t run their traditional client-server apps in this cloud world. “Cloud is about net new apps that deliver new business value,” he says. “That’s what Amazon has driven, and that’s the power of the cloud.” Organizations need to be forward thinking enough and willing to embrace these new applications that are fueled by big data and distributed systems to produce analytics-based decision making and agile computing environment.  

It’s more than just technologyBernard Golden, VP of Enterprise Solutions for Enstratius, a Dell company

The biggest inhibitor to more prevalent cloud computing adoption is that organizations are still holding on to their legacy processes, says Golden, who recently authored the Amazon Web Services for Dummies book. It’s not just about being willing to use new big data apps, and spin up virtual machines quickly. It’s the new skill sets for employees, technical challenges around integrating an outsourced environment with the current platform, and building a relationship with a new vendor. “For people to go beyond just a small tweak, there needs to be a significant transformation in many areas of the organization,” he says. “Each time there is a platform shift, established mechanisms are forced to evolve.”

Regulatory complianceAndy Knosp, VP of Product for open source private cloud platform Eucalyptus  

One of the biggest hurdles for broader adoption of public cloud computing resources continues to be the regulatory and compliance issues that customers need to overcome, Knosp says. Even if providers are accredited to handle sensitive financial, health or other types of information, there is “still enough doubt” by executives in many of these industries about using public cloud resources. Many organizations, therefore, have started with low-risk, less mission critical workloads being deployed to the public cloud. Knosp says the comfort level for using cloud resources for more mission critical workloads will grow. It will just take time.

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and NetworkWorld.com. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW. Read his Cloud Chronicles here.  

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