The move of enterprises to the cloud is challenging from both the physical and psychological perspectives. On the physical side, questions include the fate of existing infrastructure -- which may not be paid for completely -- and how applications and services can be re-engineered to take full advantage of the new model. Psychologically, organizations must be comfortable with security and the fact that an organizationís mission-critical infrastructure no longer will be in the corporate data center.
Everything that is new raises difficult issues, however. Moves, even dramatic ones, are made when the benefits become compelling enough. Enterprise cloud is at that point. Though its evolution is not complete, the cloud is becoming the coequal of legacy on-premise infrastructure.
Telco Transformation spoke with Brannan Matherson, director of product management for CenturyLink's Hybrid IT Business Unit. Here is Part II of that conversation. Matherson spoke about the opportunities and obstacles that businesses face when migrating to enterprise cloud. (See CL's Matherson: Future Is Now for Enterprise Cloud.)
Telco Transformation: What questions lead you to think you are dealing with a savvy corporate consumer?
Brannan Matherson: When we hear customers having a vision for how they are developing software internally [we feel that they understand]. If we hear questions about how we [would] manage and provide services and applications [for them], that is a savvy customer that is moving to a cloud model.
[Savvy customers are] thinking about handling applications or workloads first, for a more agile, rapid delivery of services. When we hear questions around that, it says to us, "Hey, this customer's really doing some things internally. They're building out their own services." The alternative scenario we hear are customers asking, "Hey, how do I outsource IT services to you to take on the responsibility of managing my IT infrastructure for me?" Those are two different types of customers that we would see.
The next is when we hear questions about how to better manage existing spend. They've already made investments in Amazon Web Services, they've already made investments in Microsoft Azure. We know the point of entry for cloud is going to be pretty much IS, infrastructure services. Compute, networking and storage. Thatís sort of the gateway for cloud. The next is if they're starting to consume more higher level services, application services, database services. When we hear customers talking about those things, and asking about container technology, those are customers that are really starting to be on the cutting edge of technology and implementing that into their processes.
The third set of questions is going to be around the processes with which they deliver these services. Are they adopting DevOps models? Those are customers that are really thinking about a modern way to do infrastructure provisioning, on-demand services and application development.
TT: And I guess even the ones who want you to take it all on could be savvy by understanding that they are best off leaving it to the experts?
BM: That's exactly right.
TT: What are the key challenges of migrating into the enterprise cloud?
BM: The first [involves] existing infrastructure. Can that be moved to the cloud? Does it need to be re-provisioned, and how do you do that? It's all based on the architecture of the environment that a customer has built. There are a couple of different ways to do that. The most common is lift and ship.
The next [challenge] is in the area of DevOps types of transitions. You need to decide based on what the apps and services need to run on. In some cases I can move the app as it sits today. Sometimes I need to refactor that application. There are specialists in refactoring applications. Itís not just rewriting. It could be code change, it could be configuration changes, it could be splitting applications apart and making them into multi-tier applications.
Another issue is how to move pieces of the applications up to the cloud. Do I need to move the entire app? Now that it uses a cloud model, it's not about everything sitting in one place or sitting in one type of configuration. So now I can have pieces and parts that are performing in various ways... I [may] have some regulatory concerns and compliance issues, so there are some things that can or cannot move to the cloud. There are others that have performance metrics that they need to meet when it comes to latency or things of that nature, and others have scale issues.
Another big "gotcha" is creating a good assessment of what's running in the environment today. Lines of business request services from IT. IT gives them the services and they run in perpetuity without anyone coming back to really assess if those things still are running. What's out there? What do my applications talk to today? Having a good assessment of what is already there today is one of the key first steps. It can be laborious at times, but that's something that you really need to understand. And that includes all of my lines of business, all of the base business units or cost centers that are running and spinning up services or requesting infrastructure.
TT: How can you tell the prospective customers that enterprise cloud is secure or even more secure than on premises legacy enterprise IT?
BM: Some organizations are really, really great at security. With that said is, the large cloud providers have really gotten a good handle on how to manage security globally. And they have inputs and learnings and best practices from security across the entire industry versus an individual segment or vertical. And they've implemented processes that really scale very well. And that's why a lot of the cloud provider, including CenturyLink, get customers in the door and have them walk through their own data centers.
The next is the process and people that are in the organization that provide a security methodology. This is where from a consulting perspective, we come in and deliver guidance in terms of how to think about security for applications, security for infrastructure and how to take advantage of the technology you're implementing because you can deploy some great technology that has great security mechanisms in there, but without fully understanding how to implement them, or how to leverage them, it stills an area of a risk.
So those two combined, I think is really where the cloud provider, and then a service provider, add value to customers for enterprise cloud security.
TT: What do you see happening in the enterprise cloud sector for the rest of the year?
BM: I do see some growth in cloud adoption for the remainder of the year. One area, as I mentioned, will be in adoption of cloud management. Cloud optimization will be a big area. The goal is to help customers manage existing costs. It will free up more budget, and have good line of sight into what's being consumed today.
Another is the consumption of more higher level services, above IS. It's almost the same way back in '03 when virtualization came into play, and people said, "Oh, I'm moving from a data center to a physical server to virtualization." People are consuming storage and networking. The next layer is going to be more application services. It's going to be an area where I would expect to see growth. Now does that mean spend will increase? Maybe, maybe not. But there will be more adoption of other broader services from the cloud provider portfolios.
— Carl Weinschenk, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation