Unisys Sees Three Key Cloud Trends in 2010

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Cloud computing emerged as a key technology trend in 2009. While concerns about economic payback and data protection may be holding organizations back, Unisys predicts that in 2010 previously reluctant users will clearly see the potential the cloud represents and start making the move to take advantage of it.

5 Minute Briefing recently chatted with Brian Ott, vice president of Unisys' worldwide cloud program, about what the company sees ahead this year in terms of the enterprise embrace of cloud computing and the cloud trends Unisys expects to dominate 2010.

Process automation and improved cost reporting will drive popularity of private clouds. Unisys expects that early in 2010, organizations will lay the foundation for internal cloud computing environments by automating their IT processes, such as infrastructure provisioning and repurposing. They will also increasingly automate how they monitor, analyze and report consumption of their IT resources. Improved reporting makes it easier to accurately charge the cost of IT resources back to the business organizations that use them.

"We all know that even though things are getting a little better in the economy, the CIO is going to be asked to do more with less or at least with the same, very little increase in budgets this year," says Ott. "Our prediction is that by automating things such as IT processes, and then getting visibility using additional cost reporting to see who is using what resources, they are going to be able to then leverage the value of a cloud. Whether that is a private cloud, or a hybrid cloud or a combination with a public cloud as well, the key is to automate so you can make it efficient to move workloads around based on the most cost-effective architecture an environment in any of those three options. Based on that, you can understand where your costs are so that you can work hand in hand with the business side of the organization and explain what it is costing to do this work this way, and evaluate if that is the most effective use of the IT investment. It is a fairly simple concept but the automation and consistency of process, visibility and transparency of information around cost - all tied to who is consuming what IT resources for what business workloads and then changing behavior, not just the IT side, but the business side of behavior on how they use IT. The technology is there today."

Hybrid clouds will gain momentum later in 2010. Further along this year, Unisys expects more organizations to shift their focus to hybrid cloud environments. While IT decision makers may be wary about moving sensitive business applications to public clouds due to security concerns, the company expects that with the increasing availability of strong data protection, such the Unisys Stealth solution, organizations will gain greater confidence in using the public cloud for workloads using sensitive data-particularly those with intensive cyclical processing requirements, such as financial processing and reporting. As a result, later in 2010 organizations will be better able to leverage a hybrid environment, with more of their cyclical enterprise applications securely hosted in a public cloud while the private cloud, which is best for IT modernization or new deployment projects, becomes more mainstream due to its economic advantages and the ability it gives the IT organization to respond in real time to changing business conditions.

"I have yet to talk to CIO or CTO that isn't interested in cloud. They know it has to be in their plans, but there aren't many that are ready to commit their entire core production environment to a cloud, primarily because of security concerns being number one, but also because they are unsure about how to get benefits out of cloud, lack of standards, and a tremendous amount of other challenges," notes Ott. "But what we are seeing in the last 4 or 5 months is enterprises in various parts of the world starting to at least test subcomponents. not an entire production core application." They are thinking about what business services are the right ones to start putting in a cloud, says Ott, adding that organizations might try a little bit of non-critical business activity in the public, but they are creating private clouds at a faster pace.

"Over half of our current interaction with customers today on our own cloud is the enablement of private clouds. They definitely want to take, not the entire application of say their ERP, but they are saying, let's figure out which business services can get better throughput, lower cost, more flexibility. They are starting to do not just proofs of concept but putting production workloads out there within their firewalls. Then, for the things that are non-mission-critical and are able to be delivered through a public cloud, there is some testing and actual movement of production workloads. The next phase is going to be that movement to the hybrid, but our estimate is late this year and then moving into the next two to three years for the hybrid movement, just because of that lack of standards and lack of consistent tools and automation between all of the different environments."

The cloud will become the preferred way to support the mobile workforce. To drive productivity among their end users, Unisys predicts, more organizations will provide support via the cloud. They will give employees online access on a subscription basis to standardized software suites and other tools needed to do their jobs anywhere, any time. These tools will be designed to support either company-supplied devices or their own consumer technologies.

"If you built your application correctly to support a web browser, there is no worry about standards in supporting an iPhone or a BlackBerry or any of the other smartphones. There is tremendous interest and tremendous movement. Another thing that is happening also is that companies are trying to cut costs and they see there are benefits to letting people work from home more, so the not necessarily mobile, but non-office-occupying workforce is growing, so we have to provide that remote access to the cloud."

For more on the Unisys Stealth solution, go here