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The cloud opportunity for the IT department
Cloud isn’t going to put IT departments out of work but it will present IT staff with new challenges says senior Microsoft exec
So are smart IT departments seeing how they can use cloud to make their skills more valuable to the business because they can deliver more than just support and commodity IT?
I think there's the ability for people in the IT organisation to now focus on higher level things, whether that's rolling out new applications, focusing on the service-oriented architectures for applications, doing more strategic operations. That's all great. And then I think the people that are focused on building and maintaining those private clouds become even more central to the organisation because now, instead of running a particular workload, they're running the infrastructure that's running many of the department's workloads. That becomes even more critical.
Is this a chance for IT to be more about the value technology brings the business than the cost of the technology? Or at least to show more clearly what the cost of running a specific system or service adds up to?
That chargeback can happen inside the organisation with the private cloud, it can happen to a vendor like Microsoft with the public cloud but what you also see is that the overall costs go down.
One of the things I hear from CIOs is that, as they have private clouds, they're seeing more innovation because the barrier to entry to try an application - and then if that application is successful to have it expand - is just so much lower. So we're seeing a lot more experimentation inside the organisation because you don't have to set up the servers, get the data centre provisioned and do all those things.
There is the important flipside that IT departments need the ability to set the policy and the approvals for that - and it can be automated, so it's still hours not weeks. Tools like System Center 2012 give you the ability to set both the workflow using Workflow Foundation using some of the Opalis technologies as well as setting policy. There's definitely both sides of that.
Running a private cloud is still demanding. If an enterprise needs that local capacity but wants to get out of dealing with servers to get the efficiencies of the cloud, do they have to wait for the Azure appliance?
The Windows Azure platform appliance is a large appliance that lets you run an instance of Windows Azure in your data centre; we think that's really appropriate for our high end partners and service providers building out either their private clouds or their public clouds. For the average enterprise today, the thing to do is build a private cloud and the basis of that private cloud is Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center and all of the appropriate workloads and we have reference architectures to make that happen.
For those very large customers that are going to run a thousand servers in their private cloud, the Azure appliance will be an excellent solution. For organizations that want a turnkey private cloud we have worked with hardware partners and storage and networking partners to build what we call Hyper-V cloud fast tracks and these are turnkey reference architectures that include the server, include storage and include networking to build your private cloud. That is the most turnkey way to get private cloud using Microsoft technology.