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The State of Enterprise Cloud By @Colin_Lacey | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

As businesses grow increasingly complex, they’re faced with tough choices when it comes to their cloud environments

The State of Enterprise Cloud Computing and How to Move Toward the Future

Over the last decade, cloud computing has undeniably become a critical component of the modern enterprise. It has evolved past Software-as-a-Service for a select number of enterprise applications to encompassing entire business platforms, spanning various business devices and operating systems, and can virtually enable new ventures to pop up overnight.

The state of cloud computing today is now a crowded field of vendors, providing anything and everything as-a-service - from security and management solutions for the cloud, to converged solutions and virtualization offerings, to public, private and hybrid cloud environments. This vast array of options can be overwhelming to the point that businesses turn to outside help in order to determine exactly how their cloud environment should look.

As businesses grow increasingly complex, wary of security breaches and forced to operate under tighter budgets, they're faced with tough choices when it comes to their cloud environments - such as locating certain applications on- or off-premise, embracing the cost savings of a public cloud, the flexibility of a hybrid model or the security offered by a private architecture. In fact, many businesses have begun turning toward a hybrid cloud model, with various applications on public or private clouds, with the ability to move between the two depending on what's appropriate for its needs at that time. If the rise in cloud computing has taught us anything, it's that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to enterprise cloud computing.

The Many Faces of an Enterprise Cloud Environment
Not only are public, private, and hybrid clouds in play, but many companies will engage different partners or providers for various cloud implementations. The fact of the matter is that we're still in the early days of the cloud market evolution, evidenced by recent research from Forrester. As different business units within an enterprise look to migrate certain applications to the cloud at different rates, they may have adopted a cloud model that is completely disparate to that of another business unit, which may have migrated different applications at a slower rate. All together, the average enterprise's cloud environment is a complex web of providers, managers, security providers and more.

Interestingly, many businesses have employed a multi-cloud environment without even realizing it. According to a 2013 Forrester report, 58 percent of companies leverage more than one cloud vendor in their organization, even though 71 percent claim that they prefer to have just one vendor providing cloud services from end-to-end. Despite this desire, the reality is that companies expect that they will need to adopt multiple cloud platforms, taking for granted that one platform will not meet all their needs.

Is It Sustainable?

As the average enterprise's cloud environment becomes more and more complex, so too will its security concerns. Despite 43 percent of respondents in Forrester's study identifying concerns about security and privacy issues in virtualization or cloud environments as their major barrier to adoption, it isn't stopping them. Even with these concerns, enterprise cloud adoption continues to trend upward. In fact, according to an Everest Group study, private and hybrid cloud adoption rates are increasing by 66 and 44 percent year-over-year, respectively. Hybrid cloud, in particular, is catching on among large enterprises, with nearly half expected to have deployments by 2017.

These concerns are valid, with news breaking with increasing frequency about breaches in public clouds and downtime posing greater losses and inconveniences. For all the business benefits cloud technology promises, it can also leave organizations more vulnerable to increasingly sophisticated cyber threats. But there are options in the form of strong, end-to-end security offerings built specifically for enterprise cloud deployments and the applications that reside within them. As the trend toward moving business applications to the cloud continues to rise, so too do companies' incentives to pay close attention to security and implement these safeguards.

Increased Adoption and Consolidation
We observed this upward trend in enterprise cloud adoption because the rewards are simply too good to ignore. Notably, 72 percent of companies in Forrester's report cited improvements in scalability due to cloud technology. Two-thirds reported that they can quantify significant cost savings due to their cloud implementation. Finally, 64 percent found that their investments in cloud helped them innovate their offerings and enter new markets.

As companies ride this wave of enterprise cloud adoption, often in disparate forms spanning various business units, vendors and cloud strategies, they will benefit from increased vigilance and attention to their security management, practices and policies. On the vendor side, as the market matures and organizations move toward a more streamlined, end-to-end approach, providers will be more competitive by paying attention to the enterprise's key concerns: security, reliability, manageability and price. Organizations that architect and manage their cloud environments to reflect these characteristics will be better equipped to handle the workloads, challenges and profit opportunities of the future.

More Stories By Colin Lacey

Colin Lacey, Vice President, Infrastructure and Cloud Solutions at Unisys, leads solution management for data center and cloud services covering advisory, implementation and managed services. He is an international technology and services marketing executive with experience spanning consumer and commercial PCs, enterprise storage, servers and mainframes, and services to enable data center and cloud transformation. His specialties are solution marketing, technology strategy, portfolio management and business development. Before joining Unisys, he was the director of Platform Marketing for Hewlett Packard’s ProLiant server family. He holds both a B.Sc. and M.A. in management from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

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