It’s the application, stupid….

It is not surprising that some of the biggest advocates of cloud-based services are those that provide them. However, there are many others including end user organisations that have come to recognise the benefits along with analyst houses such as Quocirca that have followed the development of such services from the early days, before anyone was calling “the cloud” the cloud.

Whatever the level of enthusiasm, it must be remembered that for commercial customers, cloud-based services are only ever a means to an end: the delivery of reliable business applications. This was underlined in a recent Quocirca research report entitled “2012 – The year of Application Performance Management (APM)” (freely available here) which looked at the priorities of IT managers for 2012.

The respondents, who were all senior IT managers in European and US businesses, were asked to select their top five of fifteen priorities for 2012. By a long chalk the performance of applications topped the list. Someway behind in 2nd and 3rd place, but still clearly high priorities, were private cloud and virtualisation. This is good news for cloud service providers because IT managers clearly recognise the need for data centre rationalisation and that cloud technologies are the way forward, even in-house.

As they transform the way they run applications internally, it will be easier for them to move workloads from private to public infrastructure. Indeed, the use of hybrid-cloud (the mix of private and public resources) scored slightly higher than pure public cloud. All this serves to remind that many IT departments are still pretty conservative and there is suspicion about outsourcing much of what they see as their own core value.

Small organisations with limited IT resources are the easiest to win over. Most surveys (for example Quocirca’s recent report, Next Generation Datacentre Cycle II – Cloud findings, freely available here) show that organisations of all sizes still harbour doubts about aspects of public cloud computing, especially security. However, the fact is that most small and mid-sized business (SMBs) can’t come near the service levels offered by cloud service providers that make enterprise class data centre and IT infrastructure available to and affordable by all.

Providers of cloud platforms, that is either infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS), need make the case that their platforms are the best way to deploy reliable, available and secure applications either as an alternative for, or supplement to, running them internally.

This series of blog posts by Quocirca will look at some of the technical and commercial issues that businesses should consider when evaluating cloud service providers to ensure they get the most from engagements with them. The series will also show that the direction of travel is clear; the future is one where there will be an element of cloud based services in the delivery of all business applications, simply because it is the best way to do certain things and in some cases it will become the only way.

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