By Donna Scott, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst, Gartner
Many organizations are in the midst of digital business development and transformation, yet only 58 percent were using cloud services by the end of 2015. Even 10 years after the introduction of public cloud computing services, and five-plus years of private cloud services, confusion remains over where and how to exploit these services. While cloud computing is a foundation for digital business, Gartner estimates that less than one-third of enterprises have a documented cloud strategy.
Cloud computing will become the dominant design style for new applications and for refactoring a large number of existing applications over the next 10-plus years. A cloud strategy clearly defines the business outcomes you seek, and how you are going to get there. Having a cloud strategy will enable you to apply its tenets quickly with fewer delays, thus speeding the arrival of your ultimate business outcomes.
First, it’s important to understand the multiple faces of cloud computing.
Get closer to customers
Enterprises are slowly migrating from on-premises data centers to the public cloud. Public cloud spending today is 5 percent of total IT spending, but it will grow much faster than internal IT spending through 2020, due to new initiatives as well as migration of existing legacy systems.
A key benefit of public cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) is to place applications closer to customers to enable a better user experience. Private cloud computing is also being exploited, especially where intellectual property, control, regulatory or compliance concerns, security, performance, and cost of service delivery are differentiated. In such cases, private clouds run on-premises, in co-location facilities or at provider facilities, and they can offer similar benefits to public cloud computing.
Hybrid cloud computing implies significant integration between the internal and external (or two or more external) environments at the data, process, management or security layers.
As they expand cloud usage, many organizations will use managed service providers/cloud service brokers that will help them to aggregate, integrate and customize cloud services, and serve as an intermediary between cloud providers.
Invest in cloud for digital business
Digital business requires speed and agility that cloud computing provides through the use of cloud services – which become available to a broader set of users through a self-service interface. Users “help themselves” to these cloud services, stimulating creativity and innovation.
CIOs need to educate their CEOs and boards of directors about the need to invest in cloud as a style of computing that drives greater speed, agility and innovation through this democratization of IT. In doing so they should use their digital business strategy to justify the investments needed for cloud computing.
Optimize your application design
However, using cloud services is not enough. It’s the way you use cloud services that matters. Developing your applications in a “Wild West” style where “anything goes” can result in costly sprawl, lack of leverage and high cost maintenance, resulting in significant technical and architectural debt. You have to optimize your applications for cloud computing with the explicit purpose of getting the most value at the lowest effective cost.
Donna Scott is a vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner’s Office of the CIO Research group. She is responsible for research in the areas of IT service management and leadership, the role of IT as a service broker, and adopting a bimodal delivery model.