Sheng Liang Featured

8:01pm EDT March 31, 2011
Sheng Liang

There has been a growing amount of buzz around the cloud and its benefits such as improved productivity, greater cost savings and increased efficiencies. Your company may already have deployed its own cloud. However, if you are like most, you are still considering the cloud from afar and unsure exactly how to turn a seemingly amorphous concept into a real business advantage. The trick is in figuring out how the cloud can work for your specific organization and how to best implement it.

For me, the cloud has become the “HP Garage,” the famed and humble birthplace of what is now the world’s largest IT company, Hewlett-Packard, and of Silicon Valley itself.

The cloud is the reason my company exists.

As evidenced by the company’s name, Cloud.com, the cloud is an integral part of the business: providing an open source software platform to enable enterprises to launch their own public or private clouds. But the cloud is not only important because of our value proposition and product; it’s played a crucial role in several aspects.

By using the cloud to manage our communications, e-mail, financial systems and development environments, we have kept the need for costly physical resources very low, something crucial for any growing company. As a result, we have been able to invest in the development of our intellectual property instead of worrying about expensive infrastructure. The cloud has helped us grow our business and spend money on smart services and other value-added resources.

Now make the cloud work for you.

If you are uncertain about using the cloud, begin with a pilot program. Start small, and along the way, you can pinpoint areas where you might extend your existing strategy with new technologies. The reality is that most business environments will be a mix of the physical and virtual, so here are four key points to consider when evaluating the cloud model that best suits your company:

Understand the cloud and its benefits to your business. Don’t force-fit your business strategy to suit technical capabilities. Instead, consider what type of cloud would best fit your current operations and enhance your IT strategy. The cloud comes in many shapes and sizes, such as hosted applications, hosted infrastructure, Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), on-premise or off, and more.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Build off your existing operational choices and be application-specific. The last thing you want to do is create confusion by transitioning something to the cloud that is already functioning well, whether it’s your CRM system or e-mail. The cloud can be ideal if you are implementing a service for the first time and can take advantage of the cloud’s cost savings and other benefits.

Evaluate all options, and stay agile. When determining whether to deploy a public or private cloud, consider your unique requirements for cost, security, availability and control, and weigh each deployment model’s pros and cons against each of these. Select a solution that works within your existing system but does not lock you into a specific environment; portability and flexibility are other important considerations. It will prove valuable to have a solution that allows you to migrate to public clouds in the future.

Recognize the cloud’s immaturity, and move forward any way. Despite the cloud’s relative newness in enterprise IT, advancements are constantly being made that push it to new levels of sophistication and reliability. More companies and developers are focused on advancing this segment than many traditional enterprise applications; therefore, moving now will ensure you don’t miss the wave of innovation and opportunity.

Sheng Liang is the CEO and founder of Cloud.com and is a recognized expert in virtualization technologies as the lead developer on the original Java Virtual Machine team at Sun Microsystems. He also was co-founder and CTO of Teros (acquired by Citrix) and has held technology leadership roles at SEVEN Networks and Openwave systems where he developed software products for leading service providers and operators around the globe. Reach him at (877) 349-7564 or info@cloud.com.