Cloud-centric design and future data centre investment will play a part
Analyst house Gartner has outlined five key trends that will shape cloud computing strategies between now and 2015.
Included in Gartner's list is the growing importance of the hybrid cloud model and cloud-centric design. David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow, who put the list together, said cloud will signal a fundamental shift in IT.
"Cloud computing is a major technology trend that has permeated the market over the last two years," he said. "It sets the stage for a new approach to IT that enables individuals and businesses to choose how they'll acquire or deliver IT services, with reduced emphasis on the constraints of traditional software and hardware licensing models."
"Cloud computing has a significant potential impact on every aspect of IT and how users access applications, information and business services," he added.
To help IT departments deal with this shift to cloud computing, Gartner has put together a list of the top five sub-trends that have to play a part in cloud strategies.
Formal Decision Frameworks Facilitate Cloud Investment Optimisation
To get the best out of cloud investment, Gartner says businesses have to know exactly what they want from it whether it's to lower overall costs, increase agility and innovation or to o shift the focus of IT resources to higher-value-added activities for the business.
"These prospective benefits need to be examined carefully and mapped against a number of challenges, including security, lack of transparency, concerns about performance and availability, the potential for vendor lock-in, licensing constraints and integration needs," says the report.
Hybrid Cloud Computing Is an Imperative
Hyrbid cloud - a mix of on-premise and external infrastructure - has long been tipped as the premier cloud environment. Gartner reckons that this drive to hybrid cloud could lead to a unified model in which internal and external infrastructure is used interchangeably, as required by the business.
The report states: "Gartner recommends that enterprises focus near-term efforts on application and data integration, linking fixed internal and external applications with a hybrid solution."
If a business is using external cloud platforms, the IT department should ensure that processes are in place for how it will link up with internal systems.
Cloud Brokerage Will Facilitate Cloud Consumption
As it gains popularity cloud computing will see a rise in what Gartner calls cloud services brokerages (CSB) - a service provider that plays an intermediary role in cloud computing. Essentially they will form a link between the workers using the cloud services and the IT department that will enable it.
"To address this challenge, Gartner believes that IT departments should explore how they can position themselves as CSBs to the enterprise by establishing a purchasing process that accommodates cloud adoption and encourages business units to come to the IT organization for advice and support," the report reads.
Cloud-Centric Design Becomes a Necessity
Many organisations will simply look to migrate their existing applications to the cloud but that process will only work for a few workloads. Companies should look to cloud-centric design to make sure they can the best out of it.
"To fully exploit the potential of a cloud model, applications need to be designed with the unique characteristics, limitations and opportunities of a cloud model in mind," said the report.
Cloud Computing Influences Future Data Centre and Operational Models
Obviously cloud computing puts extra strains on data centres, so Gartner thinks companies should make sure that any future investment in the data centre and infrastructure is made with cloud computing firmly in mind. This will increase agility and efficiency, the report claims.
"The trend and related technologies continue to evolve and change rapidly, and there is continuing confusion and misunderstanding as vendors increasingly hype 'cloud' as a marketing term," said David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "This level of impact, confusion, uncertainty and change make cloud computing one of Gartner's top 10 strategic technology trends to address."