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Governance Makes Cloud Payoffs Possible

Proper cloud adoption requires a governance support spectrum of technology, services, best practices

It's hard to over-estimate the importance of performance monitoring and governance in any move to cloud computing.

Yet most analysts expect cloud computing to become a rapidly growing affair. That is, infrastructure, data, applications, and even management itself, originating as services from different data centers, under different control, and perhaps different ownership.

What then becomes essential in effectively moving to cloud adoption is proper cross-organizational governance. There needs to be a holistic embrace of such governance -- with a full spectrum of technologies, services, best practices, and hosting options guidance -- to manage the complexity and relationships.

The governance strength will likely determine if enterprises can actually harvest the expected efficiencies and benefits that cloud computing portends.

To learn more on accomplishing such visibility and governance at scale and in a way that meets enterprise IT and regulatory compliance needs, I recently interviewed two executives from Hewlett-Packard's (HP's) Software and Solutions Group, Scott Kupor, former vice president and general manager of HP's software as a service (SaaS) operations, and Anand Eswaran, vice president of Professional Services.

Here are some excerpts:

Kupor: You hear people use lots of terms today about infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), or SaaS. Our idea is that all these things ultimately are variants of cloud-based environments. ... So lots of customers are looking at things like Amazon EC2 or Microsoft's Azure as environments in which they might want to deploy an application.

But when you put your application out there you still care about how that application is going to perform. Is it going to be secure? What does it look like from an overall management and governance perspective? That's where, in that specific example, Cloud Assure can be very helpful, because essentially it provides that trust, governance, and audit of that application in a cloud-based environment.

Eswaran: If you look at today's IT environments, we hear of 79-85 percent of costs being spent on managing current applications versus the focus on innovation. What cloud does is basically take away the focus on maintenance and on just keeping the lights on.

When you view it from that perspective, the people who are bothered about, worried about, or excited about the cloud span the whole gamut. It goes from the CIO, who is looking at it from value -- how can I create value for my business and get back to innovation to make IT a differentiator for the business -- all the way down to people in the IT organization.

These are the apps leaders, the operations leaders, the enterprise architects, all of them viewing the cloud as a key way to transform their core job responsibilities from keeping the lights on to innovation.

In the context of that, cloud is going to be one of the principal enablers, where the customer or the organization can forget about technology so much, focus on their core business, and leverage the cloud to consume a service, which enables them to innovate in the core business in which they operate.

Once the IT organization is free to think about innovation, to think about

The whole focus shifts, and that is the key. At the heart of it, this allows organizations to compete in the marketplace better.

what cutting edge services can they provide to the business, the focus then transforms from “how can I use technology to keep the lights on,” to “how can I use technology to be a market differentiator, to allow my organization to compete better in the marketplace.”

So given that, now the business user is going to see a lot better response times, and they are going to see a lot of proactive IT participation, allowing them to effectively manage their business better. The whole focus shifts, and that is the key. At the heart of it, this allows organizations to compete in the marketplace better.

Kupor: This is really what's interesting to us about cloud. We're seeing demand for cloud being driven by line-of-business owners today. You have a lot of line-of-business owners who are saying, "I need to roll out a new application, but I know that my corporate IT is constrained by either headcount constraints or other things in this environment, in particular."

We're seeing a lot of experimentation, particularly with a lot of our enterprise customers, from line-of-business owners essentially looking toward public clouds as a way for them to accelerate, to Anand's point, innovation and adoption of potentially new applications that might have otherwise taken too long or not been prioritized appropriately by the internal IT departments.

... The thing that people are worried about from an IT perspective in cloud is that they've lost some element of control over the application. ... In cloud now, what you've done is you've disintermediated the IT administrator from the application itself by having him access that environment publicly.

Things like performance now become critically important, as well as availability of the application, security, and how I manage data associated with those applications. None of those is a new problem. Those are all same problems that existed inside the firewall, but now we've complicated that relationship by introducing a third-party with whom the actual infrastructure for the application tends to reside.

Eswaran: What the cloud does is get you back to thinking about a shared service for the entire organization. Whether you think of shared service at an organizational level, which is where you start thinking about elements like the private cloud, or you think about shared applications, which are offered as a service in a publicly available domain including the cloud, it just starts to create exactly the word Scott used, a sense of disintermediation and a loss of control.

... HP Software has traditionally been a management vendor.

. . . we've taken all of that knowledge and expertise that we've been working on for companies inside the firewall and have given those companies an opportunity to effectively point that expertise at an application that now lives in a third-party cloud environment.

Historically, most of our customers have been managing applications that live inside the firewall. They care about things like performance availability and systems management.

What we've done with Cloud Assure is we've taken all of that knowledge and expertise that we've been working on for companies inside the firewall and have given those companies an opportunity to effectively point that expertise at an application that now lives in a third-party cloud environment.

... As a service, we can point that set of tests against an application running in an external environment and ensure the service levels associated with that application, just as they would do if that application were running inside their firewall. It gives them that holistic service-level management, independent of the physical environment, whether it's a cloud or non-cloud the application is running in.

Kupor: We don't expect customers to throw out existing implementations of successfully developed and running applications. What we do think that will happen over time is that we will live in kind of this mixed environment. So, just as today customers still have mainframe environments that have been around for many years, as well as client-server deployments, we think we will see cloud application start to migrate over time, but ultimately live in the concept of mixed environments.

... From an opinion point of view, we expect cloud to be a very big inflection point in technology. We think it's powerful enough to probably be the second, after what we saw with the Internet as an inflection point.

This is not just one more technology fad, according to us. We've talked about one concept, which is going to be the biggest business driver. It's utility-based computing, which is the ability for organizations to pay based on demand for computing resources, much like you pay for the utility industry.

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