Breaking through the Cloud - Cloud Computing report March 2010

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Cloud computing is one of the most revolutionary paradigm shifts of recent times within the IT world. In this special report, a number of leading names from the world of IT software, hardware, consultancy and infrastructure consider many of the current key talking points within this fascinating technology space. To begin, our commentators step up to the plate to offer their own definition of this often misunderstood term.

Demystifying the concept  

Jimmy Harris, MD Cloud Computing, Accenture

In my role, the first thing I set out to do was put some guard rails around the definition of Cloud computing. We describe Cloud computing as a convergence and evolution of a set of technologies related to IT and virtualisation that have created the opportunity to lower the total cost of ownership for technology and enabled services. Cloud can significantly lower or eliminate the need for capital investment, offering greater flexibility in operational integration and pricing models. Cloud can mean much lower friction in terms of implementation time and effort.

 

Michael Klemen, discrete manufacturing & automotive Western Europe, Cisco

The point about Cloud computing is that there are so many definitions out there. It was only relatively recently when many of us were happy just to have a PC or laptop connected at home, or maybe connected within an office network. Today we are accessing IT-related services from practically everywhere. BMW, for example, is selling new cars with free access to the Internet for two years; so if you are driving and you want your mobile devices to be connected by Bluetooth you don’t have to have it hard-connected into a telephony application; it is simply connected. When someone phones me it comes through the loudspeakers in the car and I can have a conversation. So, this is the type of service that connected people are expecting today and where the Cloud comes in; whether in the form of a personal Cloud, whether it is in terms of office applications within a private Cloud or in the form of the type of Cloud services.  

 

Colin Bannister, VP, technical sales for UKI, Computer Associates 

There are many different definitions of the term Cloud computing. However, in simple terms, for us it is about being able to get computing power on demand for as long as you need it, and then give it back when you have finished.

 

Ron E Brown, consulting and systems integration UK technical director, CSC

Cloud for us is a subtle evolution of technologies. It’s nothing startlingly new in terms of technology, but it’s a completely different supply model for IT and business services characterised by more elasticity, speed and agility. And, most importantly, what defines Cloud computing is the fact that you can access the functionality of applications in the Cloud as a pay-as-you-go service, which has major potential cost-saving benefits for the user.

James Norwood, global VP of product marketing, Epicor

I will try to demystify the whole concept of Cloud computing because, as usual in the IT industry, a complicated term comes along that make things sound a lot more involved than they actually are. Our definition is that Cloud computing is about buying IT capacity and applications as aided by a utility service provider. It is about the ability to go out and buy utility computing, scalability performance and business applications from a service provider. In some cases an application might even be available to source free of charge to source.

Steve Strutt systems architect, IBM

In a B2B sense, Cloud computing is a business model for the consumption of IT, built on the concept of actually exploiting high levels of automation and economy of scale and to deliver lower-cost services, and consequently greater business agility. Basically, it is very much a business evolution, and this is really what is going to make the difference.

Raghavan Subramanian, associate VP, Cloud Computing, Infosys

There are two main aspects; one is the public Cloud and the other is the private Cloud. Typically in the public Cloud you see providers such as Amazon, Salesforce.com, Microsoft Azure, etc., and applications or storage services are available in the public Cloud platforms. The private Cloud on the other hand is managed by the user company and can be run in the company’s own data centre using technology provided by its regular technology provider.

Steve Farr, product manager, Microsoft Dynamics 

Whenever you have a new technology area there are always different definitions that suit different vendors. For me Cloud computing is about application functionality accessed purely and solely in the Cloud for whichever purpose, and probably interacting with a screen or other device that has locally running software. I think Software as a Service (SaaS) can be a bit of a red herring and my view is that Cloud computing is emerging as a better definition because it takes you away from licensing; something SaaS is intrinsically linked to.

 

Andrew Bond, core technology director, Oracle EMEA

The definition I prefer is that of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is completely vendor neutral. The definition refers to computers, networks, storage, applications and services and points to five core characteristics of the Cloud: on-demand self service, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, measured service – ie. something that can be metered and charged back for – and a broad level of network access – ie. you should be able to get to these resources wherever they are. The Institute then defines three service models: Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service. It also defines four deployment models: public, private, a private Cloud shared between a group of likeminded organisations, and the hybrid Cloud – the notion that you could split your data centre resources or your IT provision between public and private and reach out to the public Cloud whenever you need to.

Simon Black, managing director, Sage Pay

For us, there is a narrow definition and a broader definition of Cloud computing. The narrow definition is that an application is not sitting on a local PC or local device – eg. a server, hard drive on a desktop or a smart phone. Rather than being accessed through whether a local browser, an application in the Cloud sits in a data centre remotely and is managed through a Cloud service provider such as Amazon or Microsoft. The functionality of the application is then available on demand; a bit like a utility such as electricity or gas.

Kaj Van De Loo, senior VP of technology strategy, SAP

We have defined three major areas that come under the term Cloud computing. The first is around the interface – infrastructure as a service. This is the first big area where we have both partnership and development activities in progress. There is also the whole area of applications on demand; ie. software as a service or demand applications. The third area is something we call Cloud-based access to applications. So, even if you rely on a traditional on-premise based application you can now access that absolutely everywhere through all kinds Internet functions, mobile networks, etc. We believe that by utilising the Cloud for all these kinds of connectivity – all the networks that are out there – we can significantly help our customers get more value out of their existing SAP systems.

Dave Carmichael, senior product marketing manager, Sterling Commerce

For me, the Cloud is in itself an abstract term, but we normally refer to it in terms of consuming services that are delivered using Internet-related capability, and which are both scalable and to some extent elastic. So, in essence, the Cloud is about the consumption of services delivered through technology in this form.

K Ananth Krishnan, VP and chief technology officer, Tata Consultancy Services

A Cloud is a set of shared IT capabilities that provide customers with scalable services through a very simple and easy-to-consume interface in an extremely granular, usage-based pricing model. A Cloud computing model is generally characterised by:

  • A true on-demand computing paradigm.
  • Decoupling of application design and development from deployment.
  • Automated system deployment and scaling.
  • A pay-per-use pricing model.
  • Flexible access models.

 

Key selling points

What are the main benefits of Cloud computing from a business-to-business perspective?

Jimmy Harris, Accenture

I think the perceived benefits are changing. If you asked me what were the key benefits of Cloud Computing a year ago I would have said everyone's view is cost savings. This advantage is still available, but increasingly people are also looking at the Cloud from a flexibility and agility perspective. They are asking themselves ‘how can I access resources when I need them, where I need them and at the time I need them’. We have some assessment tools that better help clients think through how they can use their workload and consider how they could migrate some of their workload into Cloud services. Increasingly we are seeing this kind of thinking around agility and flexibility overtaking pure cost-related thinking.

Michael Klemen, Cisco

On advantage is Cloud within the context of pay-as-you-go IT services. Users pay only when they need it; they don’t have to ‘own’ the software and install it on their own server. A good analogy is the car market 50 years ago. Back then it was quite clear that you bought a new car, you drove it and after four years you sold it. Today, companies no longer own big fleets of cars; they own big contracts with leasing companies and they exchange the cars every three or four years. And now it’s a similar situation with IT technology. It’s also like electricity coming out of the plug. You decide what you put into the plug – it could be a refrigerator, a toaster or a computer – you decide what you want to have. And this is what the Cloud offers; as soon as you have a network as a platform you really can have any kind of application delivered through the Cloud exactly to wherever you need it.

Colin Bannister, Computer Associates

Possibly the most important benefit is agility and how the Cloud can help companies to respond quicker to demand. For example, if a manufacturer wants to move into a new market or introduce a new product, being able scale up or down in terms of the level of use of a Cloud-based application to react quickly to greater or lesser demand for its goods is important. Another benefit is that by using more Cloud-based applications, a company should require less in-house IT resources.

Ron E Brown, CSC

One benefit of the Cloud is pricing transparency. The fact that you can pay as you go means you can exactly match the demand generated by the business for the services of the IT provider, and you’re not carrying anything in stock. Another benefit concerning pricing is you can move your costs from the capital expenditure you would commit to on-premise applications to operational expenditure. For many commercial organisations this is a big advantage. Also, if you talk to a CFO of any reasonably large enterprise they will tell you that IT is a big item on their books. Not only does it account for a lot of the company’s spend, but it can also be very difficult to place a true business value on IT assets. So Cloud is an opportunity to get those difficult-to-value and expensive items off the books.

James Norwood, Epicor

Two of the biggest benefits of Cloud Computing to customers are cost savings and flexibility in scalability. Users can to scale up and scale down their use as needed without that affecting their costs. In the case of an on-premise installation, a company might put in place an expensive IT system with a lot of capacity to support the business, but then find that later on that capacity isn’t needed. However by then they are already saddled with the software and hardware. So probably the best benefit of the Cloud is it is there when you need it and you can scale back quickly when you don’t with no penalties.

Steve Strutt, IBM

The Cloud concept is very much an opportunity to experiment with new business models, new ways of actually doing things without significant up-front investment. There will of course be some workloads that will need to remain stored on the company’s on premise system for various reasons. Nevertheless, I think a migration of much of a company’s data towards the Cloud could actually lower their costs in ways other than simply savings in up-front capital expenditure. For example, using Cloud-based services can save on IT maintenance costs. So rather than invest a lot of money in maintaining much of their existing premise-based infrastructure, the money could be used to invest more in business capabilities, and even additional IT. 

Raghavan Subramanian, Infosys

There are a number of both business and technology benefits to be had with Cloud computing. From a business perspective one benefit is that you can ‘try before you buy’. And from a technological perspective, businesses often want their on-premise infrastructure provisioned for peak demand, which means that when their demand is not peak the utilisation is very low. However, with the Cloud you don’t have to over provision for peak loads; you can ramp up and ramp down your use of an application at will depending on your current business demand.

Steve Farr, Microsoft Dynamics

The deployment model is not just the technology choice. Cloud computing really says OK you might have a group of highly skilled IT people but what is their value if they’re not doing things with your customers or your suppliers or the processes within your organisation. If they are just purely dealing with IT issues then that is outside your core competence and doesn’t particularly contribute to your bottom line except in a negative fashion. If you can outsource aspects of IT management you can use the highly skilled people in question to do more strategic things and help you to drive your business. That, I think, is the core of Cloud computing for organisations big and small.

Andrew Bond, Oracle

The public Cloud offers a rental model as opposed to purchase model. But for me, in addition to cost advantages one of the major advantages should be around the quality of service. We have the ability to access dynamic resources that are highly flexible. And therefore as our demand grows we should be able to add additional resource from a resource pool in the Cloud and quickly and easily scale our operations to those extra resources.

Simon Black, Sage Pay

There are several significant benefits to customers. One is that any application in the Cloud can be accessed and managed from any location. So, for example, if a retailer has a roaring online trade and wants to regularly review his online transactions, he can log on from the office or log on from home or anywhere else, and look at how many transactions have gone through and how many people have paid by MasterCard or Visa. Also, because an application is instant hosted in the Cloud, you don’t have to be concerned about upgrading applications sitting on your exchange server.

 

 

Kaj Van De Loo, SAP

Currently there is large interest among our customers to have ‘edge’ solutions on demand available in the Cloud; these are solutions that live around their existing core SAP business suites. For example, they could be sales force automation or time & expense management applications. So the biggest factor here is time to value. When you decide that you want to use an edge solution you can start often start using it within hours. Nevertheless, the verdict is still out regarding whether the total cost of ownership of these types of on-demand applications is lower than the on-premise ones because, to some extent, you get what you pay for.

Dave Carmichael, Sterling Commerce

When credit capital is in short supply you maybe don’t want to use up large sums in up-front capital expenditure for new software. The Cloud gives users the ability to move this type of capital expense to an operational expense, and this is when it becomes compelling. Cash is king. So, I think that is the main perception as to one of the main benefits of the Cloud.

K Ananth Krishnan, Tata Consultancy Services

Some of the key benefits of Cloud Computing can be broadly classified under the following categories:

  • Costs – Operating expenditure instead of Capital expenditure.
  • Time-to-Market – Rapid provisioning.
  • Elasticity.
  • Availability.
  • Self-Service.
  • Simplicity – Easy to consume.
  • Efficiency – through utilisation and virtualisation.

 

What barriers to greater deployment remain?

What are some of the remaining stumbling blocks regarding greater uptake of Cloud services, and what perceived concerns need to be debunked?

Jimmy Harris, Accenture

The larger enterprises are worried about their privacy, security, guarantees of performance, intellectual property rights and limits of liability. And they are coming from a perspective of traditional outsourcing kinds of relationships, because these really are services we’re talking about. It’s not like premise-based software where the software provider doesn’t manage to a data; once it goes out to the cloud the provider becomes the custodian of the data. On the other hand, the providers themselves may or may not have the same view as to the risk inherent in their offerings and services. So there’s a gap I think between what providers today are willing to sign up for and what the market is demanding in the enterprise space. If you look at a small to medium-sized business they may in fact be getting better data privacy, security and performance than they had before. So the decision to move to Cloud services is not necessarily constricted by those concerns.

Michael Klemen, Cisco

Security is definitely the big topic. But as long as you guide and protect your network and your environment – and Cisco and other companies are offering services for this – then you will still be on the safe side and you don’t need to have any concerns. Of course, if somebody puts let’s say creative criminal energy into jeopardising your security, like everywhere in life you might be in danger of something going wrong. But because of a very small minority of people are doing these things the question is: do we need to over protect billions of people? So security is definitely and issue, but I think we can handle this. And the same applies to governance. There are business rules and legal aspects to consider in various countries. Regardless of where you do business you need to follow these rules and comply with governance issues. And, once again, the network can help you in this regard. For example, if something explodes on the production line the network captures the alert. You automatically receive information concerning when the information was captured, who reacted when and how they reacted. And if you have all this data on file and stored somewhere you have a perfect event chain to discuss with your insurance company. They will then likely say you did everything right and now unfortunately we have to pay for the damage. So in these types of circumstances the network can react faster and to greater benefit than you could in a purely human environment.

Colin Bannister, Computer Associates

Certainly security is the number one concern, and this is on a whole host of different levels. There is the data integrity issue, so depending on which country you are in you are regulated by all sorts of data protection laws that may or may not permit you to have data held outside your country boundaries. However, as a provider of SaaS offerings we can make sure we have local-based hosting of those SaaS offerings. So certainly we’re looking at building up partnerships with hosting organisations in order to get round this type of problem. Another concern is once you’re putting part of your business process outside your firewall there is the whole identity and access management issue of can you trust the public Cloud service provider. There are also concerns around availability and performance, and it’s interesting that many of the SaaS offerings out there don’t offer a guaranteed service levels; but I’m sure this will change in the future. Additionally, a company isn’t going to put everything in the Cloud – for example, I believe very few organisations will put their business-critical differentiating information in the Cloud – so the question they ask is ‘how do we integrate what we have in the Cloud with what we have on our own servers?’

Ron E Brown, CSC

There is a gap between perception and reality around the public Cloud. I personally believe the level of security is a lot better than many think it is. Some of the technologies available – such as virtual computing which Amazon offers and the secure data connection that Google offers – actually provide very good security. And there are providers out there that offer users the opportunity to extend the firewall from their private enterprise virtually around their slice of the public Cloud. So the Cloud can be very secure indeed. However, there are lots of regulatory compliance issues that prevent people from leveraging the public Cloud, whether it’s secure or not. For example, if legal compliance means you are not allowed to keep your data out of theUKfor whatever reason, then the public Cloud is closed off to you.

 

James Norwood, Epicor

Security as a concern – certainly from what we’ve heard over the past 18 months or so – has started to become less of a major barrier to why people will or will not use Cloud-based technology. And at the same time if you consider your own data centres, they’re only as secure as you make them. And in terms of confidentiality concerns around certain types of data in the Cloud, business for the past 20 years have been using ADP Payroll as a Cloud service and putting their entire company’s employee base and remuneration details up on the Cloud. And the applications that seem to have done very well in the early days of SaaS-based delivery is CRM where you put your entire customer base and everything you know about a customer and its purchasing history in the Cloud. Then you have e-mail servers in the Cloud – Hotmail, Gmail etc. – containing your personal information. This practice has been going on for years and few people have had an issue; then you get to finance or accounting and everyone starts to have these massive concerns. Maybe it’s because of some of the big corporate scandals of the past few years, together with this new renewed focus on governance and risk and legal compliance. But to me, your accounting ledgers shouldn’t be of such a concern in the Cloud compared to those other things.

Steve Strutt, IBM

Security issues such as confidentiality and legal compliance are concerns for many organisations, especially in the context of data that needs to be audited. So in the case of financial data where the legal offices of the company are legally responsible for it to exist, there is a lot of caution about moving this type of data to the Cloud. Historically, when this type of data has been stored in-house they could own and manage the risk themselves, whereas by moving to an external provider it’s a different relationship. Therefore many companies are not yet ready to move this type of data to the Cloud. But in the case of other types of data, where there are less concerns about compliance, confidentiality or commercial advantage, then we’re seeing a lot of customers starting to move in that direction. So there is a lot of take-up of things such as email services and collaboration services where there are usually fewer security concerns attached. But correspondingly those sorts of security issues I have outlined mean that there is quite a lot of interest for many organisations in actually building internal Clouds rather than going to an external provider.

Raghavan Subramanian, Infosys

Many countries have legal requirements in place to keep data from leaving their shores. So in the case of a global Cloud provider who is handling a company’s data across multiple data centres, you could potentially have a non-compliance situation. Most companies are used to storing their data in their own data centre, as so it is solely owned and accessed by them. But with a public Cloud you don’t necessarily know on which particular server your virtual machine is running. It’s like living in an apartment and not knowing who your neighbour is.

Steve Farr, Microsoft Dynamics

As software vendors we have to consider that some people may try to break through security barriers, or that mistakes in security can occur. So anybody who is looking at a Cloud platform to hold commercially or personally sensitive data for customers needs to prepare those systems in a rather different way. It is not simply a case of taking an application you had before, hosting it and providing access because the nature of the access is very different. OK, even if you store data on your own servers you have to ensure sensitive data is secure. However, when you take this type of data outside there are new sets of security implications. I don’t like to use the phrase thinking outside the box, but in the Cloud it’s not your box anymore and therefore you have to.

Simon Black, Sage Pay

Security is sometimes cited as remaining concern. However, over the past five years there have been huge advances in this area. Also, in terms of integration there are advances through things such as XML 5, so the ability to customise and integrate with web-based applications has come a long way. So, in terms of security and risk generally around data security etc. there’s always some level of risk, but even if you’re managing your data privately within your business and you try to protect it with firewalls there’s nothing that’s absolutely foolproof. In the same way, if somebody really wants to get into your house, ultimately they will do it. But if you have an alarm, window locks and extra security locks on your front door potential thieves will be less and less motivated to break in. At Sage we have put a lot of resource into all kinds of penetration testing and inscription. We also have in-house competence available, so we use third-party experts to try to break through our system, just so we can ensure it is as safe as it possibly can be.

Andrew Bond, Oracle

One question companies might ask is if we abstract the location of our data away from ourselves and from our application how can we be sure that this data is then secure; how can we be sure that people can’t get to our valuable customer information, for example? So you place a lot of faith in the Cloud itself because you’re now deploying information to something that is faceless, whether that’s the public or private Cloud. How do I know for example that this shared resource has the same support for encryption of the data as it would have within my own silo application development? Oracle can help with identity management and data security, thereby alleviating a lot of these concerns. Another area is compliance. There are lots of compliance reasons why maybe you can’t legally ship your data beyond a certain geographic region. And this could be a major drawback if you have complete abstraction, so you need something that is slightly more granular than this. Other concerns are quality of service – how do I know that the provider is going to give me the same capability as my current data centre does. Oracle has done a lot here in terms of being able to both manage quality of service – through tuning and diagnosing, etc. – and also in terms of scalability capability.

Kaj Van De Loo, SAP

For security-related reasons, some companies might be somewhat hesitant today to put certain types of data in the Cloud. However, I believe these issues can all be solved, and I think we will see a rapid evolution or maturation of the infrastructures. Today, if you look at the contracts that some of the providers offer they don’t guarantee the total security of your data. But over the next couple of years new players are going to enter this space directly targetting mission critical enterprise applications. Some of the big big telcos are going to launch Cloud service offerings, and the traditional IT service providers such as IBM and HP are going to offer Cloud infrastructures with enterprise qualities. And security is one of those enterprise qualities, so I think many of the concerns surrounding security will become less and less.

Dave Carmichael, Sterling Commerce

We have certain security standards in place – http and xml, etc. – but we still need to be aware that some security risks remain. Nevertheless, I think the time we can pretty much be 100 per cent dependent on the Cloud providers in terms of their own security is probably coming, and using any weaknesses on their part as an excuse for lack of adoption will probably run thin soon.

K Ananth Krishnan, Tata Consultancy Services

All of these concerns are around public Clouds. There are also alternative deployment models possible such as private Clouds, which do not have such similar concerns.

We have to start with the premise that not all applications are suitable for Cloud, so one has to select the right application portfolio. As with many concerns around a new technology, a few may be real concerns, while the rest may be a matter of perception, so a careful analysis has to be done. It is also clear that some of the concerns, such as data location and legal compliance in different territories, may not go away soon and may even need the intervention of legal authorities to formulate a policy, while issues such as quality of service may need a careful analysis to see if the applications really need that kind of quality of service and what kind of quality of service is provided by the user’s IT department.

There is a trade-off between the price point and the quality of service provided by the public cloud providers, and based on the analysis it may be possible to choose an enterprise-class public Cloud provider, or use third-party products in combination with public Clouds to meet many of the concerns. Finally, the public Cloud providers are rapidly improving their offering, so we may hope to see many of these concerns addressed in the future.

Serving the marketplace

How do our commentators’ organisations exploit Cloud-based technology for the good of their end customers?

Jimmy Harris, Accenture

Our strategy is to extend our services to embrace the Cloud in our existing lines of business; that is management consulting, technology consulting, systems integration and outsourcing. Another part of our strategy is based around creating services that are Cloud-based; that is SaaS offerings as well as Business Process as a Service offerings, while also enabling Accenture’s business to take advantage of Cloud services.

Michael Klemen, Cisco

We are currently putting a lot of effort into what we call borderless networks. This is about breaking down borders that exist in manufacturing in various areas, to achieve new levels of efficiency, productivity and profitability through being connected everywhere. So it’s more innovative, responsive customer-, partner- or supplier-focused business processes that transform the way IT manages, scales, secures, governs the whole network. Here you have a kind of umbrella Cloud sitting over your infrastructure, and it enables the benefits of having intelligently connected devices drive your whole value chain.

Colin Bannister, Computer Associates

We use Salesforce.com internally as our opportunity management tool, so we are a user of SaaS-type services. We have increasingly started to deliver our technology effectively through a Cloud offering, so delivering our technology through SaaS. There are a growing number of solutions where we host the software and customers can access it on a pay-per-use basis. For example, our Project & Portfolio Management solution is hosted by us, and customers can either buy it and run it themselves or we can host it through a SaaS offering.

Ron E Brown, CSC

CSC can manage private, hybrid and public Cloud scenarios that help our customers choose the right Cloud for their needs. With our Cloud-related services we can more accurately match demand and supply in terms of the level of IT services our customers require. In this way companies don’t have to bear the cost of the burden of carrying peak volume load at normal times, making IT usage more cost-effective.

James Norwood, Epicor

What we have started to deliver – and what we officially define as Cloud computing – are ancillary and adjunct application capabilities that our customers can access without necessarily having to buy the software and implement it on site. So rather than say to our customers you’ve got to replace your entire ERP system to get the benefits of the Cloud, we point out that we understand that the investment they have made in ERP is very significant and isn’t something that can be changed overnight, so here is a way to get more out of that investment, particularly in the current market where capital expenditure is tight.

Steve Strutt, IBM

One area we are involved in is IBM Research Cloud Computing, or RC2 technology, which is basically a pay-as you-go development environment. This makes it easier for developers and development organisations to get access to computer services, and they basically just pay for what they use. So from an internal delivery perspective, this is driving down some of the costs associated with things like developing new software and applications. We also have our Technology Adoption Programme, which is an internal environment where people within IBM can work on emerging technologies or new innovations; things like collaboration, productivity tools and social networking development. This allows everybody to contribute to the culture of innovation.

Raghavan Subramanian, Infosys

We use Cloud internally within Infosys. We have our own information systems organisation where we run a group of applications that are relevant for Infosys. These applications run in a virtualised environment on top of which we are also running Cloud management. For customer organisatons, we offer a number of Infosys business platform solutions that can be customised for their requirements and then integrated with their own applications. Another example of what we can offer is a platform suitable for telephone service providers that want to have, say, something similar to iPhone, where customers can download applications. Also, entrepreneurs can write applications and promote them using this platform. This is a white-label platform that is suitable for the Cloud environment.

Steve Farr, Microsoft Dynamics

Where we stand today in this space is not to take the entire application into the Cloud, because this doesn’t suit our customer profile. The Cloud services that our customers use are through a core enablement of our applications to interact with web services and to expose their logic and security profile through to other devices such as websites etc. So it’s not necessarily to expose the core functionality of the Dynamics application to the Cloud, but rather to use what we call an attached service.

Andrew Bond, Oracle

Our offerings include: Oracle on Demand, a SaaS platform that can also be provisioned privately; Real Application Clusters supports the transparent deployment of a single database across a cluster of servers, proving a high level of availability, scalability and low-cost computing; we’re also about to announce something new with Rackspace – a Platform as a Service offering in the public Cloud.

Simon Black, Sage Pay

Sage Pay offers several significant benefits to customers. One is, like any application sitting in the Cloud, it can be accessed and managed from any location. For example, our customer GuitarGuitar is a retail business that has a number of outlets in various cities in theUK, but also has a roaring online trade. So when the company wants to review its online transactions it can log on from the office, or log on from home or through Safari on an iPhone, and look at all the daily transactions. The company can also access reports for how many transactions went through last month and how many people paid with Mastercard or Visa, etc. Another benefit is that our offering is one less application for users to worry about in terms of their internal networks.

Kaj Van De Loo, SAP

Our customers are already using external Clouds to deploy SAP systems. And we see our mission as helping our customers reduce their total cost of ownership of their SAP solutions by best enabling them to utilise both internal and external Cloud infrastructures. We also have a long history of supporting multiple databases and supporting multiple operating systems. And in that same fashion we now support multiple virtualisation technology and multiple Cloud service providers.

Dave Carmichael, Sterling Commerce

We operate in this space in three main ways. One is we deliver SaaS applications. So at the application layer we provide what would now be classed as Cloud-based applications. We also provide at the Platform as a Service layer a number of infrastructure platforms. So at the platform layer we provide what we call Integration as a Service, which has a twofold capability; one is we use it to enable our customers to use it as a service to connect with their trading partners and trade with them electronically, exchange documents and collaborate generally. The third form we use is that same Integration as a Service technology – or B2B outsourcing or whatever you wish to call it – combined with our B2B Gateway software, which is used to enable companies to not only connect with and exchange data with trading partners but also connect with and exchange data that is in the Cloud itself.

K Ananth Krishnan, Tata Consultancy Services

Tata Consultancy Services helps its customers with the following five service offerings on Cloud computing:

1) Cloud Advisory Services – This consulting offering delivers a customised Cloud adoption strategy and advisory services for our customers. Tata Consultancy Services identifies opportunities for leveraging cloud computing, with a clear technical roadmap, including Infrastructure Simplification, and a business case. Tata Consultancy Services’ integrated consulting and IT services capabilities bring continuity and consistency to customers’ strategic programmes.

2) Cloud Migration Services – Customers’ existing applications are migrated to the target Clouds. Tata Consultancy Services brings in our extensive capabilities on application migration with automation assets.

3) Cloud Development and Assurance Services – Application development and testing will be a key business activity for organisations, and Tata Consultancy Services provides Application Development and Assurance services to its customers. These include:

  • For the Cloud – Applications built to run in the Cloud.
  • In the Cloud – Application development and Assurance happen in the Cloud, so that the organisation does not need to own any development and testing environment.

4) Cloud Deployment and Management Services – According to the customer’s business needs, Tata Consultancy Services delivers SLA-based remote managed services on the ITIL framework across IaaS, PaaS and SaaS layers of Cloud.5) Cloud Strategic Services – Create Cloud-based business models for services, applications and infrastructure. For Tata Consultancy Services, the Cloud offers exciting opportunities around business models based on a different mix of capital and operating expense, and helps Tata Consultancy Services in leveraging this paradigm in its full services play.

 

The Cloud on the horizon

 How will Cloud computing continue to develop, both technologically and in terms of business advantage, over the next few years?

Jimmy Harris, Accenture

I think the service providers themselves are the being more and more sensitised to the issues around the importance of greater levels of security. We see Amazon coming up with its reserved capacity and its virtual private Clouds; a direct response to the ‘I’m nervous about living with everybody else’ scenario. Microsoft, with Azure, is increasingly moving to offering Cloud services behind your company’s firewall or its public Cloud, and it will give you the portability and tools to be able to manage across those environments. I think this is in direct response to some of the general security issues in the marketplace. So I think we will see an evolution in services to address these issues, but I also think that the providers will continue to extend into APIs, into social networking tools and more mobility-type services. They won’t ignore the technologies that are defining the way that companies deploy applications and services.  

Michael Klemen, Cisco

Many major players are investing heavily in the Cloud platform concept, so lots of new developments will undoubtedly appear. On the other hand, interesting applications in the Cloud are also appearing. If you consider the iPhone Apple environment new applications are appearing all the time; and the Cloud decides whether the new applications will be a success or not. Another interesting area that will continue to develop is social and business networking. Whenever I go on a trip I put it on Tripit and it automatically connects to my relationships with Linkedin, etc. And through doing this I may find that one of my contacts is in the same city as me; which potentially gives me the opportunity to arrange to meet up. So, Cloud-based applications can make networking and general communication much easier and I think this is only the beginning.

Colin Bannister, Computer Associates

We will certainly see a lot more of our capability delivered through that Software as a Service model in the Cloud. Through our partners and service providers you will see network management as a service, infrastructure management as a service, and more of this type of IT function delivered through the SaaS model rather than organisations having to have the IT skills in-house.

Ron E Brown, CSC

Security technologies will need to be developed further, or made more available, in order to gain the confidence of the user. And in terms of what’s on offer, I think what we will find is that people will settle over the next year or so on a blend of services for their enterprise. So the end game is probably something like 20 per cent managed services for the really core activities, 5 to 20 per cent for public Cloud services (depending on the industry in question), and the remainder probably embedded in private Cloud for most enterprises.

James Norwood, Epicor

I think that as virtualisation proliferates application service providers are going to need to support whatever scenario customers require. Providers need to think both commercially and operationally, and if a product has not been architected for use in a Cloud context you could see a similar situation to that of the ASP providers in the post-dot-com period; hosting existing software on a subscription basis and often finding it difficult to get the cost structures in place in line with the returns. Virtualisation in the workplace will increasingly drive customers towards the Cloud. Then the application service providers have to be able to offer their solutions in whatever manner the customer needs; whether that’s subscription or one-time purchase or co-location purchase and hosting or in terms of multi-tenant or single-tenant, while also being able to bring it back on premise if required. 

Steve Strutt, IBM

The Government is looking quite seriously at Cloud delivery, and how it can potentially exploit it and lower the cost of delivery of services toUKcitizens. So, there is quite a lot of opportunity there potentially for governments to change and evolve. And although the tooling is not fully in place yet, I also think the Cloud is moving more towards applications being provided by multiple providers. So we will see what could be described as ‘mash up’ applications where users can take components of different solutions and create their own customised applications. Whether it’s components from IBM to create an end-to-end logistics platform using a bit of CRM and a bit of customer helpdesk and process logic I see it going in that type of direction. But for this sort of evolution to take place there needs to be more technology development; for example around service management aspects.

Raghavan Subramanian, Infosys

In the world of Cloud I see a ‘Cloud burst’ to be one of the most significant developments to look out for, and one of the key technologies that could help a lot of organisations to realise the promise of Cloud. A Cloud burst is about organisations using their own data centre assets when it makes sense and being able to use assets from the public Cloud service providers when they need to in a seamless manner. Something else to look out for is storage optimisation – a very important concept. It’s not considered a new technology but rather a feature of an existing product.

However what it facilitates is better use of storage capacity. As an example, if you send an email to five other people with a privacy attachment that is six copies of the same file. So instead of taking up 5MB in storage capacity it is actually taking up 30MB. What storage optimisation means is that when you store information, whether for back-up or for primary data etc., it ensures that storage capacity is used in an optimal way – for example, facilitating less duplication of data. This is another area where you can see the top vendors heating up the water.

Steve Farr, Microsoft Dynamics

There is a case for looking at how on-premise solutions are configured in terms of the web services they expose, such that they better fit a security profile that is more apt in the Cloud than on premise. Even if you have a good on-premise system and you use the Cloud for payment or an e-commerce site etc. you need to think about embedding the security access and logic rules within the web service that you expose rather than have a certain level of security that’s right for on premise while simply hoping that the Cloud provider has another level that’s right for Cloud. So I think there will be less of a ‘pull’ model and more of a ‘push’ model as on-premise providers change their software to make it more appropriate for Cloud computing; that’s certainly what we’re doing at Microsoft.

Andrew Bond, Oracle

In a non-technological sense the capability services such as chargebacks should mean that customers understand more the value of the service they’re being provided with. On the negative side, we’ve seen concepts emerge such as the rouge Cloud. In terms of technological development, I think standards are key. As we get more interoperability we will need more standards in the area of Cloud computing, and the adoption by the vendor community of these standards is important.

Simon Black, Sage Pay

For small businesses I’m not sure whether there is going to be an iPad moment, but if you look back in 12 months’ time you’ll probably see that the people setting up these smaller businesses will have increasingly wanted to use web-based applications from trusted providers, and will have learned more from the success of companies such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer’s online. When you use, say, an online accounting application remotely it is very important that you trust the provider who you are engaging with because you are talking about all your critical business data. You also need your provider to be stable and reliable and know it is going to be around in five or ten years’ time. With more awareness and confidence in the marketplace then we will see much greater adoption.

Kaj Van De Loo, SAP

The real premise of the Cloud is this infinitely and elastically scalable computer storage resource infrastructure. Most developers over the past few generations of developers have been trained to deal with finite computer resources and finite storage. What we see now is that some of the consumer-based websites – particularly the larger ones such as Face Book and Google – have come up with new database technologies that are open source with more net capacity. And I think we are going to see a new generation of developers thinking about applications in new ways to be able to build applications that assume infinite Internet computer storage resources. These things of course come at a price, and we may not get the immediate consistency that we get from a traditional database, but with near unlimited storage capacity we would be enquired to think about application architecture and application programming in new ways. We will be able to build applications that we couldn’t have built before. Over the next few years we should see enterprise applications come out that are radically different from what we are used to because they will take advantage of this much more highly scalable resource.

Dave Carmichael, Sterling Commerce

We are currently in a hype cycle, where everybody is getting exciting about the Cloud, but I think there will be a moment of sobriety when everybody starts to really ask themselves ‘how do we actually join it all up?’. So you will see a proliferation of Cloud-based vendors that will help join it all together. This is currently being referred to as Cloud brokerage. I’m not talking about infrastructure, I’m talking about the tools and services that can help make the Cloud work better. This is where the major growth will be. We will also anticipate a lot of Cloud companies coming along and there will subsequently be a lot of consolidation in the marketplace.   

K Ananth Krishnan, Tata Consultancy Services

The public Cloud vendors will continue to make progress around meeting all enterprise requirements. It is likely that community Clouds will become more popular for specific verticals or use cases. We are already seeing governments adopting Cloud as a means of simplifying their infrastructure and are also providing massive amount of public data through this delivery channel, so newer classes of applications operating on massive volumes of data and scalability requirements will become common. While there are ideas around a Federated cloud model, in which workloads are dynamically deployed to the ‘right’ Cloud, this may move closer to reality. Also, more product vendors will announce their licensing policy for Clouds.

 

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