It seems that every week another visionary or IT vendor with an agenda to set claims, yet again, that it makes no sense to run IT internally any more. They claim that it costs too much, is inefficient, takes too long to get things done, and that just moving stuff into public cloud will magically solve many things.
We all know that much of this is rhetoric far removed from reality, aimed at shifting and polarising opinions. So just where do things stand on IT service delivery and datacentre evolution when it comes to investment and business development in coming years?
We surveyed senior IT managers and architects for their view of where IT is going, and their attitudes to and use of IT. The report is available on our website if you would like to delve into it in more detail.
We were interested in finding out about the organisational appetite for moving most of IT from the internal datacentre or colocation facility to a third-party hosting or public cloud provider. Unsurprisingly, only about a quarter of respondents saw themselves doing this within five years.
Most plan to keep running their own IT infrastructure, getting this in shape through the adoption of private cloud.
Drilling a little deeper, another trend emerged. It is mostly SMBs that are relying on hosted or public cloud services to deliver the majority of their IT – often starting small and where there is little to no legacy to maintain.
This is not to say that hosted or public cloud services are not relevant to larger companies; rather, that public cloud will primarily complement on-premise IT, not replace it. If anything, the interest in hybrid cloud services, where workloads can run internally and externally, is starting to attract attention, making public cloud more relevant.
While most SMBs don’t have any firm plans to base their IT on public cloud, a minority are doing so or have firm plans to do so. The result? Buying behaviour is likely to move from kit to service subscriptions.
The good news is that this group of customers still likes to buy from local partners. Just as the existing SMB customers of large vendors such as Dell, HP, Microsoft, Symantec, Cisco and others buy physical kit mainly through reseller partners and integrators, they are also doing so when it comes to sourcing public cloud services.
Providers of public cloud services will need the channel to sell to the SMB markets, and the providers that will be most successful will be the ones that can do this consistently across physical kit and cloud services.
For larger customers focused on optimising their internal IT, much of the focus will be on adopting private cloud concepts in the coming years. For many, this will be a journey taking years, as it is hard to get the investment to modernise the entire infrastructure in one big ‘forklift upgrade’.
Key to private cloud adoption is orchestration, automation and management. These elements can be incorporated by running workloads and managing physical kit directly without virtualisation, but often this inhibits the overall capability and agility of the offering. As companies travel on their journey to private cloud, they move beyond server virtualisation to tackle, initially, storage and then networking virtualisation.
The next step is tying them together tightly so they can be managed as a whole. This is a good opportunity for upsell and consulting services, as most companies have a fragmented approach to buying and managing the different parts of their infrastructure stack – which has big implications for IT agility when supporting new business initiatives.
So to take advantage of the coming wave of private cloud adoption will mean diversifying beyond an individual focus on networking, storage or servers to focus on the entire stack with orchestration and management at the heart.
Andrew Buss is service director at Freeform Dynamics
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