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The Best of Both Clouds?

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Pat PattersonBy Pat Patterson

A new year brings new opportunities and seven key challenges for IT managers. While this new white paper discusses "Seven communications trends for 2013," today we will focus on just one: the cloud!

According to a recent Gartner study, cloud computing was expected to grow 19 percent, from $91 billion in 2011 to $109 billion in 2012. By 2016, the 2012 number will nearly double to $207 billion. Forrester Research's The Cloud Computing Playbook suggests that "Cloud computing has reached an inflection point for enterprises — a comprehensive strategy for its use is now required. Until now, most companies ha[ve] adopted cloud services in an ad hoc fashion, driven mostly by business leaders and developers looking to deliver new systems of engagement they felt could not be delivered by corporate IT — or in the time frame required. These ad hoc experiences prove that cloud solutions are now ready to be strategic resources in your business technology portfolio."

Small and midsize organizations will likely gravitate to public clouds, which are designed to provide the lowest cost-sharing basis with utility style pricing, but also mean the sharing of resources among a variety of companies. The public-cloud model can come with considerable risks like security, spamming, and sometimes, infrastructure reliability issues, as happened when Netflix's service went offline on Christmas Eve, thanks to Amazon's public cloud.

It's key to investigate vendors and how they mitigate public-cloud risks before you trust one with your communications applications.

As stated in the white paper, "A public cloud is typically the lowest-cost option. However, because it is shared with multiple organizations, there is limited ability to customize a public cloud to a business' specific needs. Conversely, a private cloud is more expensive, but also more customizable."

Many large enterprises are now capitalizing on the flexibility and features of private clouds to make their move. While private clouds offer significant customization, predictability, stability and metering, the burden falls on the customer to deal with the dual challenges of managing complex systems and the need for deep technical bench expertise.

Recently, there has been a surge in companies pairing the benefits of a private cloud offer with a traditional managed service. Many are now buying the private cloud equipment and contracting with a managed service company that is responsible for maintaining the private cloud. This hybrid trend ensures scalability and growth while leaving it to others to manage the implementation and management of various challenges, including enterprise app deployment, database management and VMware configurations. By taking the final step to completely outsource the private cloud solution, businesses both large and small are choosing the best of both public and private clouds by getting the security and flexibility of a dedicated system with the utility pricing model seen in a public cloud environment.

So which cloud will win in 2013?  Public?  Private? Or both?

Pat Patterson is director of services marketing for Avaya, overseeing marketing strategy and execution for Avaya’s global portfolio of support, managed and outsourcing services. Pat has more than 15 years experience in telecom, computer and security industries, spanning roles in marketing, channel development, product and service management.

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