What Cloud Offering Do I Choose?

It has become common place for organizations going to cloud to seek out cloud services brokerages (CSBs) to deal with the problem of selecting the correct cloud offering.  Complexities can quickly arise, and experience in dealing with the issues arising from integration with proprietary premise based systems is critical.  Technology Resource Center of America has been a leader in authorized premise based systems, service, and maintenance for decades.  As such, our cloud integration division has been actively engaged in providing these type of solutions for years.

Unless organizations have a plan in place, tying these disparate services and the on-premise components together can turn into an integration and orchestration nightmare.

Cloud computing has gone from being a promising technology to a reality that brings a unique set of challenges along with benefits. To fully leverage the disruptive potential of cloud without getting trapped in a web of integration complexity, CIOs and their IT organizations need to focus on what it means to rethink their business as a collection of services.

“As cloud offerings added vertical business capability offerings to the horizontal IT capacity services, the adoption question changed from “if” to “when”—and the answer is frequently “now”.  White, principal and CTO of Deloitte Consulting, and Briggs, director and deputy CTO,  “Along the way, leading organizations moved from cautious exploration to the reality of multiple individual cloud offerings handling critical pieces of their business operations-and sourced from multiple public and private providers.”

These offerings need to be connected back to the core of your business, often through traditional data-driven on-premise integration solutions.  Advance one step further and the organization is managing both exception and routine workflow across a growing range of disparate cloud offerings with point-to-point links to legacy systems and data. This shift from ‘cloud’ to ‘clouds’ provides new opportunities, but it also brings challenges beyond just integration-security, data integrity and reliability, and business rules management for business processes that depend on enterprise IT assets composed with one or more services.

While dealing with these challenges, IT shops need to keep up the on-premise side as well, because it’s not likely to go anywhere soon, even in organizations that are eagerly consuming cloud services.

“It’s irrational to think that someone will go to work on Friday and all their work will be on-prem, and then they come into work on Monday and everything will be in the cloud,” said Mike Ehrenberg, Microsoft Technical Fellow with Microsoft Business Solutions. “People are going to live with assets in both places for a long time.”

“Integration, master data management and enterprise architecture have historically served as the linchpins in modern IT shops—a role that has only recently become more important with the adoption of multiple cloud solutions,” they said. “As more functional business leaders independently subscribe to cloud offerings outside of the trappings of traditional IT, underlying business processes can become riddled with multiple cloud players that the organization itself must integrate and orchestrate. As a result, much of the “IT-free” value proposition can dissipate at the enterprise level.”

“Companies are faced with a number of alternatives focused on cloud services integration because of the adoption of cloud computing, including providers of integration appliances and integration platform as a service,” said Gartner Analyst Benoit Lheureux. “Citing concerns with the capital expense of integration products and its reluctance to hire more IT staff to do integration work, companies are deciding to outsource all of their integration work.”

Companies are chosing to work with organizations such as Technology Resource Center of America, an aggregator and orchestrator of cloud services that are able to manage the relationships and interdependencies required, leaving the back-end complexity transparent to organizations. TRCA provides companies with on-premises integration, and supply chain integration for its customers and their suppliers and other external e-commerce partners and with intermediation of all of the third-party cloud services providers.

Companies have indicated that, by outsourcing integration as a competencythey are able to shift their strategic focus onto the core competency of managing business processes and master data (from a prior focus on acquiring integration technology and development work).

Organizations that are ready to make the move to fully exploit cloud services need to adopt “services thinking,” said John Seely Brown, independent co-chairman of Deloitte Center for the Edge.

“That’s about defining operating models, business processes and technology components as services-within and beyond the enterprise,” he said. “And it demands that companies develop a disciplined set of control points for an emerging services grid-control points with policies in place that flow up and down the stack. Unfortunately, getting a clear handle on the policy layer is often more easily said than done. Policies are often embedded across multiple layers of enterprise software, making them difficult to see, let alone orchestrate. It takes focus and resources to dig them out and make them fully explicit.”

To successfully make this sort of transition, it is essential that organizations first determine if cloud services models are even well-suited for their business problems and technical environments. They have a rubric based on the cloud definition of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that they use to assess whether cloud is the correct fit for a business problem. The attributes are the following:

  • Predictable pricing: Subscriber incurs a charge only when consuming resources, based on subscription and usage, not on perpetual licensing or allocation
  • Ubiquitous network access: The service is available wherever and whenever the network is available-enterprise network for private cloud, Internet for public cloud
  • Resource pooling and location independence: Multi-tenant, with shared resources that the subscriber cannot explicitly partition or specify
  • Self-service:: Users can directly access the service, provisioning is on-demand, and services are readied in near-real-time
  • Elasticity of supply: Ability to scale up or down to meet resource demands, with seemingly limitless upper bounds

If all five of the attributes are relevant to a business problem, cloud is a potential fit.

When preparing to move ahead, start by articulating the business goals, identifying key security risk and compliance considerations, and investigating potential cloud and traditional solutions.  Speed to solution through rapid, low-risk implementation can be a benefit of cloud computing: get ready to think big, start small, fail fast and scale soon. The path to hyper-hybrid will likely lead to custom extensions of initial cloud services, increased interfaces to core back-office systems and data, and the pursuit of SaaS application capability cloud offerings.

For more information about TRCA’s Cloud Integration Services, please contact us for an evaluation of your business needs and solutions that work for you!