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Cloud Services Embraced by More Progressive Leaders

Once again, we return to the topic of managed cloud services lessons-learned, and the associated best practices that have been gleaned by the early-adopters. The need for agile organizations and adaptive business processes continues to fuel demand for alternatives to the legacy IT status-quo.

According to the latest market assessment by IDC, cloud computing is being adopted more widely for a larger portfolio of business applications, as IT and business leaders discover what works well -- and what doesn't work so well.

The active ingredients for cloud enablement are: just-in-time software stacks that are ready to provision, on-demand deployments, a self-service catalog of cloud services, the scalability to meet growing demand for computing resource and the flexibility to scale down resources -- when they're no longer needed by the user.

Cloud computing uses still focus primarily on public cloud services, with the early adopters leveraging cloud computing for application development, data back-up or archiving, and hosted collaboration solutions. IDC says that Software as a Service (SaaS) adoption has also been responsible for driving usage of cloud computing.

Cost Reduction is Still a Common Goal
No surprise, given the current global economic conditions, reducing IT operational costs has been a common goal of most cloud service adopters.

Moreover, the use of cloud technology is expected to speed time-to-market for new business services, to reduce ongoing operational costs through greater IT efficiency – and to make it inherently easier for users to consume and pay for IT services only when needed.

That said, IDC believes that users will have access to both old and new styles of computing within the enterprise, mapping specific apps to specific deployment models, including non-cloud implementations. Leaders are thereby reserving the right to change the IT service deployment model to fit the evolving business requirements.

A key trend that has surfaced is the selection cloud services from a number of different providers, raising the importance of service federation -- the ability to move from one cloud to another.

Apparently, support for federation is still nascent, with interoperability standards and interfaces that are in the process of being defined. Regardless, interoperability will become a gating-factor for cloud computing to become more widely adopted.

For the less progressive companies, moving their IT applications to the cloud typically requires considerable testing and eventually convincing the reluctant managers to experiment with small projects. Launching apps on private clouds can build confidence in the cloud services model, while minimizing concerns about security and data integrity.

Quest for Better Business and IT Alignment
IDC says that it appears the most critical factors to the success of cloud computing projects can hinge on human factors, not technical. Reason being, cloud computing is about aligning IT technologies to business processes, in a way that reflects the business imperatives and organizational structure.

IT and computing technologies are mere mechanisms, not ends in themselves. Therefore value is best reflected in business impact results, rather than system deployment benchmarks.