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Q&A with Virtustream: Why Second-Gen Enterprise Cloud is Hot

By June 17, 2013Article

Editor’s note: Simon Aspinall, chief marketing officer for cloud provider Virtustream, says the market is experiencing a massive increase in enterprises moving mission-critical applications to the cloud. In this interview he discusses the second-generation cloud capabilities. He also explains how solutions will evolve for governance, reporting, monitoring and managing cloud environments. Please describe the difference between “low-cost, best effort” cloud capabilities/services and enterprise-class cloud capabilities.

Simon Aspinall: When the first generation of the cloud hit the market, it took the form of a public cloud, emphasizing low-cost and a best-effort level of performance. This design made the public cloud ideal for test/dev or basic backup. But for organizations that rely on high-performance, mission-critical applications and require guaranteed performance, and need disaster recovery, the public cloud fails to adequately address this checklist.

We are experiencing a massive increase in enterprises moving their mission-critical apps to the cloud, which is prompting a change in the way cloud environments are built. Now, many new companies are turning to these new enterprise-class clouds because they are dynamic, scalable, highly secure and now with guaranteed performance. Low-cost, best-effort clouds simply don’t offer these capabilities, and that’s what’s driving these new types of cloud. What are some of the comments from potential customers over the past 12 months about what’s driving them to solutions like Virtustream’s private cloud and cloud platform?

Simon Aspinall: Customers have turned to us for a diverse set of reasons. Veyance Technologies, the exclusive manufacturer and marketer of Goodyear Engineered Products worldwide, selected us to manage its complex SAP environment in the cloud. For them, the primary reason for the shift was a need for improved performance.

On the other hand, Florida Crystals Corporation made the decision to migrate to an enterprise-class cloud for backup and disaster recovery in addition to improved overall performance.

Both customers have been so impressed by the enterprise cloud performance that they have subsequently moved the majority of their entire IT environment to the cloud.

Every enterprise is unique and, as a cloud provider, it’s our duty to tailor the enterprise-class cloud solution to assist each one in achieving its specific business goals. Adoption of Platform as a Service has greatly increased over the last 12 months. Please discuss what companies should look for in a PaaS solution in order to achieve optimal outcomes.  

Simon Aspinall: First off, companies should shop for cloud solutions within the context of the three cloud service levels/layers: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). A road bump that companies tend to run into is that the majority of apps were not initially written for the cloud, given they were created over the last 10-20 years.

In these cases, companies face the following questions:

  • How do I bring my existing apps to the cloud?
  • What platforms will make the migration pain free even when the app is not cloud aware?

The need to simply move apps into the cloud is driving the demand for PaaS solutions. When prospective customers are determining which PaaS solutions they should utilize, they need to look for the attributes that best meet their business needs — whether that is compliance, security, flexibility or others. As a provider of enterprise-class solutions, we encourage companies to look for PaaS solutions that span different types of clouds and effectively meet these needs. Please discuss the trends over the past 12 months, and what you predict in changes for the next two years, in governance, reporting, monitoring and management of cloud services.

Simon Aspinall: First of all, the cloud is becoming mainstream. We are already seeing that a very large proportion of today’s apps have been and will increasingly be deployed to the cloud. As companies continue to realize the benefits of cloud, a significant percentage of the actions owned by IT will be delivered from the cloud. Numerous innovators have already adopted the cloud for multi-tenant efficiency and on-demand delivery that it provides, and we expect to see this adoption continue accelerating.

Second, security is of utmost importance to enterprises. The need for increased security, compliance and governance within the cloud are vital when it comes time for companies to select their migration strategy. Whether it is audit processes, corporate policies, maintaining audit trails or meeting cloud standards, enterprises have a comprehensive list of stringent requirements. And that is why we will see more cloud providers focus on meeting cloud security standards while also meeting the standards already in place by enterprises.

The final trend that has been gaining traction over the past 12 months is the simplification of how companies run and operate IT. Historically, virtual and cloud operations have been complex, requiring multiple in-house experts in compute, virtualization and storage. Now we are seeing an increase in highly intelligent tools that simplify processes, allowing smaller organizations to run larger IT environments with fewer people. What are the most significant trends you predict we’ll see emerging over the next two years in the area of hybrid cloud federation?

Simon Aspinall: We are currently seeing widespread adoption of private and public clouds by enterprises. A common approach for enterprises is to mix onsite IT operations — such as data centers, applications and services — with offsite cloud operations, including public or virtual private clouds. Historically, there haven’t been hybrid cloud solutions that can merge both environments in a single, integrated way.

But over the course of the next two years, I am confident that clouds will start to link together, making it easier to manage across multiple clouds. Enterprises will be able to place apps and data in the most suitable and effective cloud. For instance, they can manage test/dev environments in a public cloud, rely on an enterprise-class public cloud for backup and disaster recovery and deploy mission-critical applications to a secure virtual private cloud, all while holding the power to federate those clouds together.

It also makes sense for all clouds to start sharing capacity, opening the door for “super clouds” that will combine multiple clouds worldwide. This evolution of hybrid cloud federation will be monumental for IT. What are the top three mistakes organizations make in migrating to the cloud? And how does Virtustream help organizations avoid missteps in moving to the cloud?

Simon Aspinall: Moving to the cloud requires planning, a well-defined strategy and clear understanding of business needs and usages today. We generally find that enterprises moving to the cloud need guidance when it comes to developing a strategy. They are unsure of the best apps and data to migrate to the cloud and which cloud is most suitable for the deployment. Instead of jumping the gun and adopting cloud solutions to increase productivity, companies should establish a plan and provide the proper tools to employees to ensure a seamless migration to the cloud.

In certain cases, there is what I like to call the “human mistake.” Traditional IT approaches aren’t designed for dynamic, on-demand IT.  Because of this, it is imperative that companies review how they run and operate IT and then determine the best method to simplify the process in its entirety. This approach enables companies to take full advantage of what the cloud has to offer.  

There are still many businesses that think that the cloud is not suitable for their company because they are familiar with the first generation of the cloud — which is often thought of as an unpredictable, unreliable, low-cost way of shadow IT. It’s just a matter of spreading the awareness that enterprises can now take advantage of the second-generation cloud that is highly secure and highly compliant while offering the necessary assured performance to meet business requirements and demands.

Virtustream was a collaborator in the 2013 Future of Cloud survey hosted by North Bridge Venture Partners, 451 Research and GigaOM. Click here to view the results of the survey.

Simon Aspinall is the chief vertical markets, strategy and marketing officer for Virtustream. In this role, he leads Virtustream’s strategic priorities, operates vertical market/sectors and is the company’s chief marketing officer (CMO). Simon is responsible for driving the company’s expansion of its xStream software business, cloud managed services and the launch of a trusted cloud exchange for enterprise-class cloud federation. Prior to his current role, Simon spent more than a decade at Cisco Systems.

Kathleen Goolsby is managing editor of

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