The Enterprise Cloud Summit panel at the Interop Conference yesterday discussed some of the challenges and concerns of large enterprises and government agencies in moving their applications to the cloud. While there are some regulatory and compliance concerns for some applications, it isn’t an all or nothing proposition. Moving your email, calendar, spreadsheet, word processor, and other productivity apps to the cloud now can save big money, and free up your IT resources to focus on more strategic issues.
InformationWeek says “The vendors argued that cloud computing offers enough real benefits at the present time that most organizations should at least consider it for some functions. One approach, said Google's Don Dodge, is to move low-level data and services to the cloud while continuing to maintain sensitive information in-house.
Dodge told New York's CIO Rico Singleton that his cash-strapped state could save $50 to $100 million per year just by moving its 190,000 employees to Google's cloud-based Google Apps desktop applications. "It's not all or nothing," said Dodge. "Take advantage of the cost savings for the simple things," he said.”
CRN’s Channel Web captured the essence of the discussion;
Cloud evangelists from the technology companies led off the keynote extolling the various virtues of the cloud model, from Google developer advocate Don Dodge emphasizing simplicity and cost-savings to Microsoft's Yousef Khalidi, distinguished engineer for Windows Azure, explaining how to leverage public and private cloud models to maximize efficiency for enterprises both public and private.
All well and good, agreed end user representatives John Merchant, assistant vice president for The Hartford Financial Services Group; Rico Singleton, deputy state CIO of New York; and Louis Gutierrez, CIO emeritus of Massachusetts and CIO emeritus of Harvard-Pilgrim Healthcare. But that might not be enough -- yet -- to convince regulators, government officials or even citizens that cloud-based solutions offer trust-worthy levels of security and resiliency.
"I hear a lot about security and the accessibility of data centers all over the world," Merchant said. "But how in the world will all of the information my company collects be protected? How will I be sure when I give my data to you that I can comply with all those regulations?"
Louis Gutierrez, former CIO for Massachusetts and for Harvard-Pilgrim Healthcare suggested there should be industry specific standards and a certification process for cloud computing suppliers. Compliance with these standards would give buyers confidence that there data is safe and auditable.
InformationWeek says “Gutierrez worried that cloud providers' systems are not mature enough to meet reporting requirements under which many regulated industries operate. He believes "there's a lot that's hugely attractive" about cloud computing, but said he can't fully endorse the model until more effective auditing systems are developed.
"It has to be trust, but verify," said Gutierrez, who suggested that vendors work with industry associations to develop standards that could be used as the basis for industry certification programs. Google (NSDQ: GOOG)'s Dodge called the concept "a great idea."
Google has a two pronged approach for enterprises moving to the Cloud. Google Apps has packaged applications like Gmail, calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, Video, and other commonly used applications. Enterprises can get immediate cost savings by moving these routine every day applications to the cloud, and free up IT resources to focus on more strategic issues.
Google AppEngine provides a custom development environment and scalable deployment infrastructure. Enterprise developers can build custom applications using the same systems that power Google applications, with built-in scalability leveraging things like BigTable and GFS.
Google provides a safe path for enterprises to move routine applications to the cloud now using pre-built Google Apps or custom built apps on Google AppEngine. Transition over time. It isn’t all or nothing.
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