Saturday, October 19, 2013

3 Common Cloud Challenges

Like all new technology trends, Cloud Computing brings with it both opportunities and challenges. Unfortunately, the current hype cycle across the IT industry hasn't done the best job of defining either very well (at least not yet). Most of the information out there tends to portray the Cloud as a the ultimate (latest) silver bullet technology.

So, is it?  From my perspective - it could only be viewed as a a conditional, evolutionary improvement - and only if - the organization adopting it fully understands the implications of the technology. Which brings us to a discussion of common Cloud challenges...

Before we jump into that though, let's quantify what we're talking about a little better. There are several types of Cloud-related capability that an organization can pursue; these include:

  • Construction of one's Clouds
  • Exploitation of 3rd party Clouds (Amazon, Rackspace, Google etc.)
  • Adoption of (limited) 3rd party Cloud services or software (SAAS)
  • or some type of Hybrid solution
We shouldn't get too bogged down in the differences between Infrastructure, Platform and Software as a Service or Public versus Private Clouds at this point because the challenges we're examining today cut across most of these distinctions. 

Common Cloud Challenges:

  1. Proliferation and Governance
  2. Automation
  3. Integration

Now if any of these seem familiar, they should. These are all challenges that first became apparent during the explosion of  "legacy" data centers for distributed computing back in the 90's and early 2000's. Let's look closer...

Proliferation: Just because you can provision a completely new environment rapidly doesn't mean that you really need to or some cases even should. The model that Amazon uses to serve millions of different customers shouldn't be the same as the model you use for a single enterprise. The more environments (virtual or otherwise) that you have to create, the more you have to manage. Growing these exponentially is a particularly bad idea (although knowing that you can is somewhat cool). This is where Governance should come into play. However Cloud Governance is a practice that's running about 2 to 3 years behind deployment and provisioning - not good...

Automation: It took about 15 years to begin to get the traditional data centers running smoothly - much of that was due to the introduction of network and system administration automation tools. The explosion of Cloud solutions over the last 3 or 4 years has led to the creation of mountains of custom code and glueware to help run IAAS, PAAS and SAAS solutions. This is a serious problem and one that can be remedied soon given that nearly every major automation vendor has now re-architected their solutions for Cloud environments.

Integration: The last issue bleeds into this one. What happens when you introduce a Cloud, or multiple Clouds into your organization? Does all of the legacy capability go away? How do you control data, security, performance and interfaces across hosting platforms? Integration is the number one challenge facing Cloud adopters today and will remain so for quite some time. There is only way to solve the Cloud Integration dilemma - that's through the introduction of comprehensive Cloud Architecture. We will define that in our next post...

Copyright 2013, Stephen Lahanas


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