HP Software CTO: brokers will spur cloud adoption
The cloud brokerage model simplifies the management challenge for end users, says Ken O'Hagan
Enabling transparent monitoring
The main barrier to adoption is that many businesses are still reluctant to relinquish control of security and “trust a third party to guard the crown jewels on their behalf,” said O'Hagan.
A number of recent high-profile cloud outages, such as the one that brought down Microsoft's Azure platform last week, have done nothing to alleviate these fears. However, O'Hagan said that the key to gaining trust is to provide organisations with transparency into their cloud environment.
“If you're going to commit your business critical systems to the cloud, you need to be sure that's not going to happen – or if it is going to happen, you can see it before it happens and deal with it and potentially prevent it from happening. But consuming a service from a cloud provider doesn't give you the right to get inside that service and do traditional monitoring,” he said.
“We have to come up with passive ways, and non-intrusive ways of monitoring these systems, because they're forming part of our critical business going forward. It's a very fine line. You don't want to put an agent on there, because it could cause all sorts of deadlocks and contention that could potentially cause the problem you're trying to avoid in the first place.”
HP aims to solve this problem with the latest version of its Business Service Management (BSM) software – an agentless solution that the company claims can analyse both cloud environments and legacy IT environments together, to identify service issues that could potentially be harmful to the business before they occur.
“Ideally, you need to be able to move from an in-house delivery mechanism to a cloud mechanism seamlessly. The user's got the service they need and they shouldn't know, or care, how it's delivered to them,” said O'Hagan.
Building confidence in the cloud
A good way to build your organisation's confidence in the cloud is to understand the constraints of the Data Protection Act, said O'Hagan, in particular, the clauses around ensuring the physical and technological security of data that pertains to an individual.
Beyond that, it is just a matter of being prudent. O'Hagan recommends dealing with reputable providers that have got the requisite level of infrastructure and setup behind them, and initially choosing services to put into the cloud that are not necessarily mission-critical, but will be representative of a significant system that is worth consideration.
“There's no point putting out the website that syndicates lottery numbers each Friday – that doesn't do anything for the business. What you want to do is pick something like a collaboration solution or an email solution, or look at rolling out a trial of virtual desktop solutions to remote workers, to show how the benefits can be realised with these kind of services.”
O'Hagan compared cloud computing to the Java programming language, which when it emerged in the 1990s was not considered to be suitable for the mainstream. Nowadays, the vast majority of business services are written in Java.
“I think cloud is going to go the same way,” he said. “Yes, people see where it's going, people see the value of it and understand the value of it, people see that they can get some benefit from the flexibility, but right now it's still growing and forming and crystallising into what it's actually going to become.”
Technology providers like HP expect the hybrid cloud model to prevail for the forseeable future. As more and more applications become cloud-ready over the next over the next two to three years, O'Hagan believes that confidence will build in cloud as an enterprise-class delivery mechanism for business services.