Cloud computing will require just as many sound IT practices as anything operating at an internal datacenter today. But a pair of key offerings should be at the top of the list for any HP 3000 customer who's considering a shift to the cloud when their datacenter goes virtual, hosted and maintained by outside resources.
Security becomes essential in the cloud picture to a degree far above everyday operations. A company's sensitive and competitive data, from HR profiles to sales reports, will all pass through a network more easily exposed to breaches. A cloud computing resource needs to pass muster on elements such as datacenter door access, or security of any wireless networks at the datacenter. Donnie Poston of the Support Group inc, a vendor that's moving toward more cloud services in the 3000 community, outlined the top three elements tSGi considers important in providing cloud computing.
"The top three things that anyone has to provide are security of access, a 24x7 uptime and access to data, and adequate bandwidth," he said. If a customer is putting its critical applications into the cloud, these elements can be guaranteed with a Service Level Agreement (SLA).
SLAs with outsource agencies might be new to the 3000 customer still operating in a localized datacenter environment. Connectivity guarantees are part of remote hosting services from vendors such as DST Health Solutions. DST is a Business Process Outsourcer, the type of supplier that hosts servers and systems for clients in the healthcare industry. In 2006 DST purchased Amisys, the largest healthcare software vendor in the 3000 community.
3000 customers who face migration as an inevitability could shop patiently for cloud services and get more value than moving next year. An SLA signed in 2011 is likely to have more offered for less subscription fees than a deal during 2010. The hard deadline for HP support customers arrives on Jan. 1, 2011. The more traditional a cloud based solution's software — SAP, QAD, IFS for manufacturers, for example — the more there's to gained from waiting.
Those solutions will have to work hard to compete with open source cloud services, according to tSGi's Sue Kiezel. "If you look at open source, we already have a way of getting a low-cost entry into this environment," she said. "Open source is one of the things that's making cloud computing as viable as it is today."
The Support Group is working on a complete open source cloud computing offer, she added, including Customer Relationship Management, Demand Management, analytics to serve Business Intelligence needs, tools for Business Process Management. Desktop tools will be available that "look just like Word, and just like PowerPoint, so you can't see the difference anymore."
The tSGi team envisions specialization in sectors such as geographical location, business sector and even service to government agencies. In the US that last category got its first dedicated cloud provider from a surprising source: the government itself. Apps.gov opened for business this week to supply business apps, cloud IT services, productivity apps and social media apps to US government customers. The Federal government has a CIO in Vivek Kundra who said in a press release yesterday
Apps.gov is starting small – with the goal of rapidly scaling it up in size. Along the way, we will need to address various issues related to security, privacy, information management and procurement to expand our cloud computing services.