Monday, October 7, 2013
Many of the motivations for moving to a cloud environment come from a business perspective.
Many of the motivations for moving to a cloud environment come from a business perspective. The freedom to provision IT resources as needed reduces time-to-deployment for applications and allows business units to explore new initiaives without waiting for the IT department. However, as InfoWorld contributor David Linthicum recently noted, many organizations still make a case for cloud hosting and similar services from primarily an IT perspective.
Adopting cloud technology for the wrong reasons can lead to deployments that do not meet expectations. For instance, Linthicum noted that IT leaders often look to the cloud for the purpose of shifting from a capital to operational expenses model. While this is beneficial in some cases, it will not be an advantageous shift for every organization. As a result, it is important to consider factors other than cost and differences in pricing models when considering cloud hosting vendors.
"The true value of cloud computing - or any technology, for that matter - is its ability to make the business function in ways that can maximize its growth and value," Linthicum wrote. "This means allowing the business to move in new and innovative directions to capture new markets, or to keep up with the market by growing as quickly as the market will allow."
Unlocking the cloud's potential
In order to support growth, organizations can focus on factors such as agility. As Linthicum noted, the ability to rapidly respond to changes in demand and different expectations in an organization's market is more valuable than simple reductions in IT spending. However, it is important that organizations approach the cloud from a business perspective early on, so that the technology is optimized according to the needs of key stakeholders rather than just the needs of the IT department.
Business agility is one of the defining factors of PayPal's cloud deployment. Powered largely by the software-defined data center approach, the company relies on the cloud to fuel business centric goals, PayPal senior director Saran Mandair told TechTarget.
"That means we need to bring everything that we actually do manually today into an 'as a Service,'" Mandair told the news source. "That is, we're going to have a software-defined API, and it's all going to be wrapped under an umbrella called software-defined data center over the next two to three years."
Mandair emphasized the role of OpenStack in fueling PayPal's cloud strategy. The availability of APIs and the abstraction between hardware and software offered more freedom to pick the technology that best suited the company's needs. However, he noted that there were some barriers to adopting the platform for his company's purpose. For example, some of OpenStack's controller nodes did not meet high availability demands. In addition, load balancer as a service was not available at the time of PayPal's initial deployment. The company created its own load balancer to fill this gap, highlighting the strategic power of customizing cloud platforms and taking into account both IT and business needs.