Governance Must Improve for Cloud Computing to Thrive: OvumBy Larry Barrett
June 17, 2010
Cloud computing has already established itself as the next disruptive technology in the enterprise, but IT governance in the next few years will be vital as companies feel their way through the transition away from on-site software applications to cloud-based options, independent research firm Ovum said in its latest report.
The benefits of the cloud -- lower costs, a smaller data-center footprint and immediate access to multiple applications for a distributed, international workforce with minimal fuss -- are also some things that can expose companies to degrees of risk that simply weren't possible during the heyday of locally deployed software installations.
Managing this risk -- everything from ensuring the accuracy and privacy of financial and medical data to keeping data-swiping malware from infecting an entire fleet of smartphones downloading sales data from a cloud-based application suite -- will require companies to rethink how they establish and enforce IT governance across their organizations.
In its report, Ovum said that governance of cloud computing thus far is generally "too reactive and piecemeal," and that cloud migrations are suffering from the same pitfalls that impede other IT governance areas.
"Most IT governance efforts are prompted by new regulations or by the need to keep up with uncontrolled SOA software services, virtual machines or public cloud services, whereby governance starts when the public cloud bill is much higher than expected," Laurent Lachal, a senior analyst with Ovum, wrote in the report.
Lachal said that as companies build out their private clouds and begin integrating them with public clouds, IT administrators will have to implement new rules for managing and sharing data that promise to be more complicated than anything they've dealt with before.
"Despite growing interest in IT transitioning from managing technology to providing technology as a service, neither business nor IT executives have been particularly proactive in managing the various changes that such a transition requires at all levels," he added.
Cloud computing makes IT governance more difficult by introducing an additional layer of complexity that businesses need to control in order to make the most of its benefits, the report said.
Earlier this month, computing giant HP (NYSE: HPQ) gave a preview of what its cloud-based future will look like when it announced plans to lay off more than 9,000 workers over the next three years as it starts to implement some of the data-center automation tools and policies it's been selling to its own customers for years.
HP, IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) are all vying for leadership in the cloud-computing software space, offering up their take on data management strategies and IT governance as this new tech paradigm develops.
For now, Ovum researchers say the great race to the cloud will more resemble a marathon than a sprint.
"Ovum does not expect a 'big bang' implementation of cloud governance, but rather a gradual build-up that provides an opportunity to launch and/or reinvigorate other governance efforts," the report said.