Weathering ChangeBy Samuel Greengard Print
Cloud computing is rapidly rolling into the mainstream of business and IT. The technology is revolutionizing the way organizations manage infrastructure and business processes.
Accenture's Greenway says that the distinctions between public, private and hybrid clouds are beginning to fade. "Business leaders don't care what type of cloud the organization uses,” he says. “They simply want the best possible service at the best possible price. It's the folks in IT that draw the distinctions. It's essential to understand the organization's strategic goals, as well as the desired service level before defining the cloud environment and the right service provider.”
One organization embracing this approach is the State of Texas. With tight funding and limited resources, a combination of private, public and hybrid clouds allows the state to obtain sophisticated IT capabilities in a less costly, more flexible and quick-to-implement manner. In turn, the state offers a more flexible approach to other agencies and organizations that rely on its services. “Users can 'pay by the drink' rather than buying more than they need," explains Karen Robinson, State of Texas CIO and executive director of the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR).
The state is relying on cloud-based software through Salesforce.com and Microsoft Office 365 to create a more "robust" application environment, Robinson says. In addition, DIR, using cloud services from Xerox, is moving to a platform-as-a-service model to manage its infrastructure—including shared hardware, virtualized servers, networks and storage. This approach delivers capacity on demand within a public cloud, while boosting security and disaster recovery. It is allowing DIR to consolidate 28 facilities into two centralized data centers.
Robinson says that the public, private, hybrid approach allows the state to maximize "flexibility for the range of use-case needs in the State of Texas computing environment." This leads to faster deployments, maximum system utilization and optimal use of tax dollars by deploying "just the right amount of service based on the requirements of the solution."
She says that Texas will continue to embrace cloud solutions in the months and years ahead. "Given the options cloud services make available to State of Texas computing customers today, there are relatively few types of systems that couldn't find a home in the cloud," Robinson concludes.
Accenture’s Greenway believes that barriers to cloud adoption are now more psychological than practical. "People are concerned about where their data is going, who is looking after it and who else might be able to access it," he says, but adds that many of these fears are based more on perception than reality. "Service providers are investing heavily in security technology, including better use of encryption, and it is becoming far more difficult to hack into these systems." In many cases, Greenway adds, the level of protection is now better than within the company contracting for the cloud services.
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