I recently heard an interesting anecdote from a reputable source at a Fortune 100 company. Despite a strict “no public cloud” policy, corporate audits of personnel expense reports and emails revealed that they had spent millions of dollars on a public cloud in the previous year. While I have heard many times that “It’s happening,” this story really hit home for me. It also spurred a new thought process. A private cloud offering is no longer an option for corporate IT – it’s a must.
I’ve been involved in many conversations around all the advantages that a private cloud can offer an enterprise – self-service portal, service catalog, life-cycle management, automation, workflow, etc. While all of these attributes can certainly provide value to the business, it may be overcomplicating what private cloud can accomplish in the near term. There are two relatively simple private cloud offerings that can provide corporate IT with immediate returns in the form of additional security and improved end-user satisfaction: Simplified IaaS and Enterprise Sync/Share. We’ll explore each of these in turn.
Public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service is acquired by end users for many purposes, but the underlying reason is that it’s cheap and easy to obtain. Corporate IT, on the other hand, likely has a litany of processes to go through before a workload can be deployed – justification, management approval, cost center analysis, etc. Additionally, the ability to manage a transient workload through a short life cycle may not exist within IT. But there is a solution – corporate IT can stand up a general-purpose private cloud IaaS modeled after the major public IaaS providers and allow their end users to check out workloads and innovate at will. The technology to do this exists, is relatively easy to stand up and provides an introduction to private cloud in a safe environment.
The advent of multidevice computing has spawned a new category of storage software in Enterprise Sync/Share. This is often called “dropbox for the enterprise” due to the popularity of that public cloud offering. Far too many enterprises today do not yet have this in place, however, and have left it to their end users to install products such as SugarSync, Box.net and the ubiquitous Dropbox. This presents a tremendous security risk to most enterprise customers as their intellectual property and business assets are stored somewhere in the cloud. IT could simply mandate that end users are not able to use such services; however, that is somewhat shortsighted. You’d be hard-pressed to find an individual today who operates on a single computing device – two to four is far more common. Fortunately a number of companies have answered the call and provided Sync/Share that is capable of residing behind the firewall on corporate-owned storage assets. Oftentimes they also include the ability to remotely wipe lost devices – an additional function to help protect against security breaches.
The primary role of corporate IT is to service the business and its end users. By embracing the two aforementioned technologies, IT can enhance its image and reputation with its end-user base while enhancing security. It also allows IT to dip a toe in the Cloud water with simplified models before extending these capabilities to other environments such as test/dev. At the end of the day, that’s a win-win-win!