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Common Challenges When Moving to the Cloud and How to Avoid Them

By: Massimo Re Ferre’, vCloud Architect

In this post I am going to touch briefly on the challenges organizations usually face when moving to the cloud. Once organizations understand the value of moving to the cloud, they often need to work around a few hurdles to exploit the full value of it.

The Incompatibility Issue

The first problem most organizations face when moving to the public cloud is the fact that there is often a complete disconnect between what they have in-house and how the service they are buying online is consumed.

All cloud service providers rushed in the last few years to create “connectors of sort” to make the mixed experience more homogenous.

However the problem isn’t so much related to having a “single pain of glass” (no that’s not a typo!) but rather lies in the fact that the underlying constructs are completely different.  This has complex ramifications in how you move stuff around and how you manage the private and public portion of your hybrid infrastructure. Very few will want to do an all-in into the public cloud, so this is a real problem.

VMware has a unique advantage here by leveraging and using the very same end-to-end software stack in all of use cases, be they public or private. This is what I usually refer to as the “no boundaries hybrid cloud” where the demarcation line between what’s public and what’s private is potentially hard to draw.

The Security Issue

The public cloud concept is often tied to multi-tenancy which is essentially the concept (in a nutshell) that allows cloud service providers to build efficient shared infrastructures that they can sell in secure (virtual) chunks to their customers.

No matter what, for many enterprise customers this is a big source of concerns. I am not here to judge, just to share what I have seen in the field. This is such a broad problem that even big cloud service providers that historically advocated shared infrastructure was the only “true cloud” have compromised by allowing customers to consume dedicated resources (at a price).

The Reliability Issue

This is a very hot topic. There is a lot of discussion around whether cloud applications should be self-healing or the cloud infrastructure should provide resiliency services to applications that have not been designed “for fail.”

While I am well aware that there are a lot of organizations that are embracing the former model, there are a lot more (orders of magnitude) organizations that are dealing (and will be dealing in the short-medium term) with applications and software that require a resilient infrastructure.

But fear not. While VMware products and public cloud services are known to be optimized for the latter scenario (applicable to the majority of the organizations out there), we are well aware that we need to address the requirements of the other class of applications and there is work being done in the back to address that. Stay tuned.

The Network Issue

This is an interesting one. I am especially keen to this because in the part of the world where I live (Europe) it is often a big roadblock (in some countries more than others).

Network bandwidth and reliability is often one of the more frequently used reasons (or excuses?) to not adopt public cloud services.

This is why, I believe, the VMware partnership model with our vCloud Service Providers is so powerful.

By enabling our cloud service provider partners globally with our software stack, we create an opportunity for our joint customers to find a compatible public cloud data center that is at “reasonable distance” from the on premise (private) cloud data center.  This could range from big local Telco’s (where proximity is measured with the scale of the size of a country or state) all the way to small local service providers (where proximity is measured with the scale of the size of the city).

No matter the actual distance, consider also that many of these cloud service provider partners are network carriers as well that could sell high-bandwidth and low latency connectivity to our joint customers, making the “no boundaries hybrid cloud” even more a reality (even from a network perspective).

Conclusions

These are the four most common roadblocks that I often hear from customers that are approaching public cloud services. VMware and its partner ecosystem are in a unique position to be able to mitigate them as much as possible so the promise of the value of the public cloud can be exploited as much as possible.

We are well aware that these are not the only challenges end users face when moving to the public cloud, especially because different personas have different requirements (and hence challenges).  However, we are working hard to be able to serve efficiently the broadest audience possible. It’s game on.

For future updates, be sure to follow @vCloud and @VMwareSP on Twitter.

Massimo currently works as at VMware as a Staff Systems Engineer, vCloud Architect. He works with Service Providers and Outsourcers to help them shape their Public Cloud services roadmap based on VMware cloud technologies. Massimo also blogs about Next Generation IT Infrastructures on his personal blog, IT 2.0.