Keep the 'cloud' non-mission critical

Experiment with cloud computing technologies, but keep your mission-critical applications on home base for now, says Citrix executive.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is "several years away" from being enterprise-ready, but companies should begin experimenting with the technology, according to a Citrix executive.

Martin Duursma, Citrix CTO chair and vice president of advanced products, said it is "early days" for the cloud computing scene. "We are on the steepest portion of the hype cycle curve," he said, and advised against fully handing over an enterprise to the "cloud" just yet.

He raised the example of online photo sharing site, SmugMug, which relies on Amazon's utility Web storage service. When Amazon's "cloud" went down earlier this year, many sites hosted on it were crippled alongside.

In SmugMug's case, the photos it stored on Amazon's servers were at the core of its business; "companies should not place mission-critical aspects of their business on the 'cloud'", said Duursma, speaking at the IDC CIO Summit 2008 held in Singapore Tuesday.

However, he noted that much potential lies in the SaaS scene that companies should be adapted for, once the cloud computing industry reaches maturity.

"Eventually, it will not make sense for companies to be their own services and data center 'experts'," where they can benefit from the economies of scale that larger cloud vendors can provide, he added.

Companies that need quick "boosts" to functions such as storage or computing power, can also rely on the cloud. Comparatively, the traditional processes of procuring hardware and building a data center expansion are far slower, said Duursma.

Patrick Chan, IDC Asia-Pacific's chief technology advisor of its emerging technology council, said during an earlier session: "CIOs today must understand the implications of emerging technologies so as to leverage them for the blueprint of improving tomorrow's business.

"The pace of execution for both business and IT has accelerated at an amazing rate and CIOs with their enterprises must keep up."

According to IDC, companies in the Asia-Pacific region are expected to spend US$154 billion on IT this year. Emerging technology such as cloud computing may emerge as a tool to help combat growing expenses, said Duursma.

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