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Q&A with GlassHouse Technologies on Achieving ROI When Migrating to the Cloud

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Editor’s note: In the midst of a crowded landscape of cloud services providers, each with different approaches to leveraging the cloud, many organizations fail to achieve their anticipated return on investments when migrating to the cloud. We asked Ken Copas, the practice director of cloud computing and IT services management for GlassHouse Technologies, for advice on deploying to the cloud. He also shares information on cloud trends. 

SandHill.com: Over the past two years, what have been the three biggest mistakes that you’ve observed organizations making in their cloud deployment plans?  

Ken Copas: The three biggest mistakes we’ve seen companies make in regard to their cloud deployment plans are, first, buying and implementing a technical solution with little or no thought to people and process. Second is having no idea of the ROI or purpose for deploying cloud services and, finally, having no ability or plan for chargeback of cloud services. 

SandHill.com: Please give an example of how GlassHouse‘s services helped a customer avoid specific mistakes in cloud strategy or readiness. 

Ken Copas: Using our methodology, we’ve helped numerous customers by facilitating collaboration during cloud services design that brought together technical teams, LOBs, finance, legal and other stakeholders.  We’ve helped many customers discover that a single cloud solution would not meet their needs and that, in fact, they needed two or three different cloud solutions.  

We always help organizations work through and define whether or not cloud services make sense for them either financially or due to enhanced capability.  And finally, chargeback or at the very least showback is mandatory.  If this piece is missing, not only do you not meet our definition for cloud services, but you will most likely have created an environment doomed to be plagued with server sprawl and resource constraints. 

SandHill.com: Where are the biggest pitfalls in process/procedure design that you encounter when helping customers transform their operations to successfully move to the cloud? 

Ken Copas: There are many pitfalls that customers need to avoid in process/procedure design when deploying cloud services.  Neglecting to involve and train service consumers, reorganize the structure of IT operations, and/or revamp your IT governance and project/resource provisioning processes will rob companies from having truly successful cloud services deployments. 

The biggest pitfall is to simply not realize that the people and process aspects of deploying cloud services require as much attention, if not more, than the technical solution. 

SandHill.com: In addition to cloud services, your company also provides virtualization services. What is GlassHouse’s advice for helping companies ensure they receive the anticipated ROI on their desktop virtualization strategy? 

When it comes to ensuring ROI with VDI implementations, as any consultant will tell you, it depends.  The use-case and workload characteristics have to be taken into account in order to design a VDI solution properly.  But, in general, we see customers experience better ROI with greater scale. The savings with VDI are related to economies of scale and typically realized on the OPEX vs. the CAPEX side. 

With the right solution design, VDI storage requirements should be much less as compared to a physical deployment. However, the storage cost difference between drive capacity in a physical server compared to an enterprise class array must be taken into account. 

SandHill.com: What do you believe will be the most significant changes in cloud computing over the next 12-18 months? 

Ken Copas: The most significant changes we expect to see in cloud computing over the next year and a half will be twofold.  Security and compliance concerns in the public cloud are being addressed at an accelerated pace; meanwhile, companies are discovering that the cost savings associated with public cloud services is not as significant as they had hoped.  

These two developments will fuel a desire to move into the hybrid cloud model where companies maintain their own private cloud infrastructure for average load scenarios and rely on cloud service providers for peak load scenarios.  This is the best of both worlds: cost effective for daily, known resource needs and yet fully elastic and quickly scalable for peak or unknown resource needs. 

SandHill.com: In what ways do you believe the cloud vendor landscape will change over the next two years? 

Ken Copas: The cloud vendor landscape will change over the next couple of years by following the same paradigm as many other industries, meaning that those vendors that are not competitive will fail and those that are will be acquired by larger vendors.  We’ve already seen this being played out in the world of cloud and I expect it will continue for the foreseeable future. 

In the end, the big players of today will most likely be the big players of tomorrow, but a lot of smaller vendors will surface, sink and be assimilated along the way. 

GlassHouse Technologies is a collaborator in the 2013 Future of Cloud survey hosted by North Bridge Venture Partners, 451 Research and GigaOM.

Click here to take the survey and share your opinions on the future of cloud computing. 

Ken Copas is the practice director of cloud computing and IT services management for GlassHouse Technologies, a global provider of vendor-independent data center consulting and managed services.  He helps clients understand the concepts driving cloud computing and the service provider model.  Ken’s previous corporate experience includes serving as a business development executive for IBM and as an IT executive for NetJets, Inc. Follow him on Twitter @kencopas. 

Kathleen Goolsby is managing editor of SandHill.com

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