|By Toddy Mladenov||
|June 29, 2013 10:00 AM EDT||
Reading my newsfeed this morning I noticed several articles talking about the cloud and the enterprise. There is no doubt that the area is heating up with more and more acquisitions (IBM buys Softlayer), investments (GE invests $105M in Pivotal) and fights over big deals (IBM vs. AWS for the CIA cloud) but the question that comes up is: "Are the cloud platforms ready for the enterprise?"
Being involved with numerous cloud projects I see five areas that enterprises emphasize when they evaluate their options. Those are not too different from the criteria they use for any other software offering but here is the cloud run-down.
An enterprise application portfolio consist of a mix of applications, some of which are decade or more old. An enterprise ready cloud platform will offer support for legacy applications as well as new, cloud-architected ones and should provide smooth migration path for those. It is not surprising that IaaS, although not the ultimate solution for the enterprises, gained such traction recently - it is the stepping stone to the more advanced solutions like PaaS and SaaS but offers less disruptive migration path than the other ones.
Similar to the application portfolio the list of internal systems within the enterprise can be quite long. Driving the business is the highest priority and integration with existing business systems like CRM, ERP, HR etc. and applications for those can break or seal the deal with a cloud provider.
IT teams look for easy integration with their existing infrastructure automation and monitoring tools while on the development side the cloud platform should provide easy integration with IDEs, build, test and deployment tools that are utilized in the enterprise.
This one is the one that is most discussed in the media. Privacy and security concerns are widespread and single mistake can cost lot of money for a cloud provider. Integration with existing user management systems for authentication and/or authorization, single-sign-on (SSO), encryption and data protection are must haves for the enterprises. Especially for the ones in the Financial, Insurance and Healthcare verticals.
You may have heard about this before but not all enterprises are thrilled to hear that with the cloud they remove their CapEx and convert it to OpEx. My favorite example here is the utilities companies and you can read more in my post Business Strategy for Enterprise Cloud Startups.
An additional consideration is Enterprise License Agreements (ELAs) used for long time to do bulk licenses for packaged software. A cloud provider that offers easy roll-up of their services in the existing ELAs or the so-called Bring Your Own License (BYOL) will have certain advantage over ones that do not have such options.
Last but not least enterprises are looking for platforms that will allow them to build for the next 10 or more years. If a cloud vendor is not able to prove its value for longer period of time its place in the enterprise will be taken by one that can. The value of the cloud is not satisfying the needs of one of the internal teams (Business, IT or Development) but of all three together.
Independent of which side of the table you sit (the vendor or the enterprise buyer) you should consider all five areas in your cloud strategy and make sure that these are well covered when the contract is signed.
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