Companies can't handle the cloud computing truth; You're not ready

Despite all the chatter about cloud computing, most companies aren't even close to being ready for it.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Despite all the chatter about cloud computing, most companies aren't even close to being ready for it.

In a Forrester Research note, analyst James Staten starts off with a sledgehammer:

Cloud computing — a standardized, self-service, pay-per-use deployment model — provides companies with rapid access to powerful and more flexible IT capabilities and at price points unreachable with traditional IT. Although many companies are benefitting from public cloud computing services today, the vast majority of enterprise infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals view outside-the-firewall cloud infrastructure, software, and services as too immature and insecure for adoption. Their response: “I’ll bring these technologies in-house and deliver a private solution — an internal cloud.” However, cloud solutions aren’t a thing, they’re a how, and most enterprise I&O shops lack the experience and maturity to manage such an environment.

Why are these IT shops immature? They don't have standard processes, automation or virtualized infrastructure. If company has a greenfield to play with the cloud is an option, argues Staten. Most companies will take years to create cloud computing infrastructure internally.

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It's hard to argue with Forrester's take. There's a lot of not-so-sexy grunt work to do before cloud computing is an option. IT services often aren't standardized and you need that to automate. Meanwhile, various business units inside a company are rarely on the same infrastructure.

Staten argues that cloud computing will be a lot like virtualization adoption.

It took time to virtualize your server environment, and the same will be true with internal cloud computing. It’s been more than 10 years since server virtualization debuted, and only recently did it become mainstream, with more than 60% of enterprises using it on their x86 infrastructure. But we’re not done. As of September 2009, enterprises reported that less than half of their x86 server population was virtualized and that they would, on average, only get to 65% of their x86 servers virtualized by the end of 2010.

Nevertheless, companies have to at least start dabbling with cloud computing with new projects because developers and business unit leaders are already headed there. In any case, the march to cloud computing begins with a hard look at your IT infrastructure. Right now, you're likely to have the march of a million cloud computing pitches. Staten notes:

You can’t just turn to your vendor partners to decode the DNA of cloud computing. They are all defining cloud in a way that indicates that their existing solutions fit into the market today — whether they actually do or not. The term “cloud” is thrown around sloppily, with many providers adding the moniker to garner new attention for their products.

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