Hurricane Sandy brought with it a heavy dose of disaster, but utilizing the cloud helped mitigate what could have been even more difficulties faced by businesses.
"Overall, I think cloud does help," said Stephanie Balaouras, an analyst at Forrester Research. "Tier one cloud and SaaS providers such as Google and Amazon operate their cloud services from multiple data centers and can simply shift workloads to other locations as needed. They are also able to deliver a level of availability that many organizations could never achieve themselves. This includes the resiliency of the data center infrastructure itself to the resources that they invest in high availability and disaster recovery capabilities," Balaouras said, according to an article on SearchCloudSecurity.com.
"Cloud computing can absolutely help in BC/DR operations," said Kevin O'Shea, information security practice lead at engineering, construction and technical services firm URS Corporation. "For example, we saw several large webhost providers switch to alternate locations when their primary data centers went offline in New York City. However, businesses must be organized in such a way as to be able to offload critical applications and data to a cloud provider," he said.
O'Shea added that virtualization, identification and segregation of critical business processes are important steps that get organizations prepped for cloud services. "But rarely do we see businesses that have identified all their critical business processes, identified the critical cyber assets that support those processes, and virtualized and replicated key servers and data," he said. "Like many other problems in information security and BC/DR, gaining significant leverage from cloud services is not solely a technology issue. It involves a coordinated effort across the business processes, infrastructure and culture."
Where Is Cloud Computing Heading in 2013?
Analysts see a future in which cloud computing is moving IT from on-premise to off-premise and gaining a slice of business spending.
With cloud computing maturing this year, more organizations will start to move their IT infrastructure from on-premise to off-premise, according to IDC head of research Matthew Oostveen.
"2012 was the year that we all got tired of cloud; there's cloud fatigue," he said, according to an article in ComputerworldUK.com.
"What is certain is we are watching a migration taking place where on-premise computing is moving to off-premise computing. It may start incrementally where we see an up take of co-location services, and obviously the co-locations services are being supported by the influx of new data centers in the market place."
Telsyte senior analyst Rodney Gedda's predictions are similar to Oostveen's. "Cloud computing [services] will mature next year and continue to be procured as a replacement to on-premise infrastructure and as an option for service delivery," Gedda said.
He said there will be more innovation in application testing and development in 2013, with new cloud applications coming out to market.
"We can expect to see new types of applications delivered out of the cloud, more options for where data is hosted (and the type of infrastructure its hosted on) and more services offering enterprise-grade application hosting.
"We can also expect to see very strong enterprise-grade services coming out to market," according to Deloitte Consulting technology leader Robert Hillard.
"File sharing, document sharing, collaboration will very quickly gain enterprise strength and much greater support within the enterprise traditional governance," he said.
Why ‘Cloud' Is No Longer Sufficient
"Cloud" means many things to many people, so it's important to find out which type of cloud is being discussed in order to leverage it within an enterprise, according to an article on Wired.com.
Is it a public, off-premise, commodity, IaaS cloud? Or is it a private, on-premise, enterprise, PaaS cloud? Or another cloud model that combines various attributes?
In regard to the private cloud model, why would a company consider implementing one? Private cloud makes sense for companies because they can still achieve many of the various cloud model benefits. Implementing a cloud model is a great opportunity to improve IT services, introduce flexibility, decrease server implementation and reclamation times, develop chargeback and/or showback capabilities to demonstrate value, and just improve the reputation of IT in general, Wired says.
Additionally, you can pursue private cloud while leveraging your existing investments in both infrastructure and in people skills. And because you are building your private cloud on-premise within the internal network and on the existing virtual server environment, you are immediately negating a whole host of concerns around application incompatibilities. Perhaps most important, the idea of maintaining complete control over compute resources and valuable data on premise is most appealing.
Throwing around the term "cloud" is no longer sufficient. IT cloud computing models of different types serve different purposes, and they all have their proper place in the enterprise. Different cloud environments have the potential to provide enterprises with scalable and flexible IT platforms that add business value; the trick is finding which cloud computing models work best for your business.