Our blog today is a contribution from Tim Grieser, Analyst and Program Vice President, Enterprise System Management Software, IDC.
Today's cloud computing infrastructures are transforming the way IT develops, deploys and delivers services to end users. According to standard definitions such as NIST, cloud computing enables on-demand access to shared resources – servers, storage, networks, applications and services – that can be quickly provisioned or released as needed. Whether public, private or hybrid, clouds are built up from highly virtualized infrastructures with management software that provides facilities such as service catalogs, self service provisioning, metered resource use and rapid scalability. Indeed, clouds would not exist without key facilities provided by workload automation including dynamic automated physical and virtual server provisioning, workload and virtual machine allocation and reclaimation and self-service cloud provisioning portals. Automation adds service and process management on top of virtualization management. Clearly, automation is an essential foundation for enabling cloud infrastructures.
The use of cloud computing offers a number of key advantages to businesses including agility, speed of deployment, wide user access, operational efficiencies and lower initial costs. To be successful, business services need to meet today's user expectations – rapid Web-based access to an ever increasing array of applications from a variety of devices including hand-held and mobile. With the increasing focus on SaaS and other forms of cloud services, "self-service" access to applications and infrastructure is gaining popularity with business units, IT organizations and end users alike. Self-service solutions provide an opportunity to economize on the use of IT staff time while also providing improved service delivery. Self service can enable business unit access and can provide role-based control. Business users can view and request IT workload services needed to support internal and external customers, without the need for specialized knowledge.
There has been much attention paid to the business benefits and opportunities made possible by cloud computing. One area of interest is the use of cloud computing infrastructure as a resource pool for adding capacity, dynamically, to process large or peak workloads normally run using on-premises facilities. This kind of usage requires considerable prior architecting and planning. For example the cloud-based infrastructure and operating environments must be compatible with the on-premises facilities so that transfer of applications and data can be accomplished. The use of workload automation software to manage the operation of such workload expansions is an area promising business benefits from efficient use of resources and minimizing capacity costs.
Going forward, cloud computing provides enormous opportunities for business growth and innovation. A number of such opportunities can be realized by migrating workloads into the cloud and using cloud-based infrastructures and workload automation together.