Everybody is talking about cloud computing these days. The conventional wisdom is that, some day soon, entire enterprise data centers will be outsourced-offloaded to some secure, undisclosed location where IT resources will be available anytime at a nanosecond's notice. It may sound outlandish. Then again, cloud computing is happening. While 55 percent of CIOs said in a recent survey(1) that they will not be using cloud computing in 2010, only 21 percent make the same claim about 2012. Many start-ups are already building data centers entirely in the cloud, and established organizations everywhere are testing the waters by contracting with software as a service (SaaS) providers, or outsourcing less-than-critical business services to cloud vendors.
Clouds, whether public, private or a hybrid of the two, will certainly become essential components of the enterprise IT mix in the coming years because of their potential for lowering costs, increasing efficiencies and enabling organizations to tap unlimited processing resources. But there are still serious issues to be resolved. Who do you call when something goes wrong? Will there be a paper (or digital) trail that proves compliance with policies and regulations? Can you identify physical, virtual and cloud resources and pinpoint their locations at any time? And can you control access to data, applications and infrastructure even while sharing processing resources with other firms?
The answer to all of these questions is a qualified Yes. The qualification? Intelligence, security and management must be integrated components of the cloud. Any cloud. Moreover, the workload—the integrated suite of software that includes the operating system, middleware and application—is where the necessary intelligence and management functionality must reside. To be truly intelligent, workloads must be self-contained, identity-aware, policy-driven software packages that contain integrated management and offer real-time monitoring and reporting capabilities. They must be able to optimize the use of enterprise resources. They need to be platform-agnostic and therefore able to run anywhere and be easy to move around. And, linked together, they have to be able to deliver business services.
Today, the intelligence and management capabilities that are the basis for enterprise-grade security, compliance and control typically exist outside the workload. But all of that is changing with the emerging intelligent workload management (IWM) market.
Intelligent workload management will enable IT organizations to manage and optimize computing resources in a policy-driven, secure and compliant manner across physical, virtual and cloud environments to deliver business services for end customers.
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When it comes to IT IQ, intelligent workload management is the cloud's silver lining.
Why Cloud Computing Needs IWM
Cloud computing has the potential to provide better business agility and access to powerful hosted technologies even as IT managers retain control of vital assets from within the organization. Enterprises can gain greater efficiency, which can lower power requirements, operating costs and capital expenditures. But serious risks and challenges of cloud computing must be eliminated before cloud computing goes mainstream. Even more important, no business anywhere is going to put everything into the cloud. Any cloud computing environment needs to integrate with both the physical and virtual computing tools that every data center has in place today.
For starters, several "must-haves" need to be in place.
Security, Compliance and Control
According to IDC(2), security is the number one concern for enterprises considering deploying to the cloud. Data center managers must be able to replicate in the cloud the level of data protection, compliance with government and industry regulations, and access control that currently exist on premises in enterprises today.
Enterprises need the ability to move workloads from physical environments to virtual environments and into the cloud—and back again. These requirements mean that every application needs to be portable—able to run in every environment. Portability is key to business flexibility. Interoperability is equally important. Cloud services must be standards-based so enterprises can move workloads in and out of them as needed.
Identity awareness is a prerequisite for confidence in the cloud. Identity and access controls must be able to move with each workload between physical, virtual and cloud environments.