Dispelling cloud myths
The pervasiveness of cloud computing is making it ever more vital for business, but is also stimulating misconceptions, says Citrix.
The concept of cloud still generates a great deal of misinformation, says Sean Wainer, country manager at Citrix South Africa.
"In order to harness the technology to its full effect, it's important for organisations to cut through the noise and understand what the cloud is and, more importantly, what it is not," he explains.
Many businesses still talk about "moving to the cloud" in the way they would talk about moving to another city, says Wainer. "The cloud is not a place. Rather than think about it in physical terms, the cloud can be anywhere - your data centre, or someone else's. Simply put, it's a more agile and efficient method of delivering, consuming and adopting IT services."
Another common misconception is that cloud computing involves being locked in, he adds, but this is not the case. "It's about openness and open source for choice and flexibility. Businesses don't need to be locked into single, proprietary, all-in-one solutions, but should instead have the flexibility and freedom to choose the best virtualisation, networking, storage solutions and hardware for their requirements. An open, no lock-in architecture allows businesses to run multiple hypervisors, adopt different networking and storage topologies, and support industry standards such as Amazon Web Services API."
Server virtualisation is often confused with cloud computing, Wainer notes, but virtualisation is a new breed of purpose-built cloud architectures. "Although server virtualisation can be an important ingredient in a cloud, it's not a required component. Some of the leading cloud organisations have implemented massive cloud deployments without it. Take Google, for example, which deployed a cloud architecture that does not use server virtualisation, but rather a bare-metal infrastructure. So, while cloud is not server virtualisation, it is a new way to provision, manage and orchestrate infrastructure resources across a data centre."
Contrary to commonly held beliefs, a choice between private and public clouds is not a necessary one, says Wainer. "Cloud is a holistic strategy that spans and connects private and public clouds. The right cloud strategy enables a hybrid approach that selects the best of public and private cloud technologies, while still providing the business with full interconnectivity, access and flexibility."
Finally, it is important to realise that cloud innovation is being driven by users, who push the traditional, rigid approaches of IT to pay heed to their demands. "This is why the cloud revolution is so powerful, and the consumerisation of IT is facilitating the movement," notes Wainer. "Users are already there and many C-level executives are now trying to catch up. Those who embrace the cloud sooner rather than later will gain increased business agility and innovation before competitors do.
"Some organisations are still struggling to get to grips with 'the cloud' and the benefits it can deliver," Wainer concludes. "But the cloud is real; it's ready now and is not necessarily what many think it is."