SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Dec 13 — As 2011 winds down, it's apparent that migrating business to the cloud reached a tipping point this year where it is no longer a trend, but has become an absolute business requirement. RightScale Inc., the leader in cloud computing management, has first-hand experience with the growth of the cloud. In September, the company reached the milestone of launching more than three million servers since inception (a 50 percent increase since January) and in the last year has doubled the total compute power managed by the RightScale platform. Today the company unveiled key insights into the cloud and the business challenges that lie ahead for 2012.
2011 Trends: The Third Revolution Marches On
Here's what RightScale saw this last year in the most transformative technology shift since the personal computer and the Internet.
- Cloud has become a requirement. In the past, many IT departments debated whether or not to adopt cloud technologies. Conservative CIOs pronounced that the cloud was not secure, or business terms not adequate, and those became justifications for avoiding or postponing cloud adoption. During this last year, those rationales have faded, and the use of cloud technologies has spread quietly but inexorably, led by early mainstream adopters both inside and outside of IT. Use of cloud continues to be driven by two simple facts: It's available, and it's effective. As a result, RightScale has seen its average monthly revenue per customer increase by two-and-a-half times in the last two years. As 2012 nears, it's clear that the momentum is unstoppable – the cloud train has left the station, and companies will either get on it or get left behind.
- Virtualization is only the halfway point. Ever since infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) started to become wildly popular, pundits have debated the definition of what constitutes a cloud, and vendors have slapped the "cloud" name on their offerings, hoping to gain market share by simply repackaging existing solutions. In particular, many began to refer to their traditional virtualized environments as "private clouds." But most companies now see through the hype and realize that virtualization is only the halfway point in the journey to cloud and that it doesn't deliver the benefits of a true cloud solution in terms of business agility, cost granularity, and IT staff leverage. They recognize that true clouds are API-driven, offering on-demand compute, storage and network resources through automated, uniform layers of services, and are driving their investments there.
- Cloud service models converge. The lines between the lower layers of cloud services – platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) – have begun to blur as customers mix and match elements of each in their applications. PaaS has always been popular with developers because of its simplicity and ease-of-use. But most commercial production systems don't fit neatly in the PaaS model, so companies have turned to IaaS services that can handle the broadest variety of stacks and workloads. With RightScale ServerTemplates, users can more readily take advantage of the flexibility of IaaS while enjoying PaaS-like ease-of-use. Through providing standard cloud configurations for common application deployment components, such as scalable Web and application servers, database master/slave pairs and grids for batch processing, RightScale ServerTemplates enable efficient, automated provisioning and operations across one or many clouds. These standard cloud-ready configurations can be customized by users to meet their needs, and such customization is common, as evidenced by a 50 percent growth in the number of ServerTemplates published on the RightScale platform since January 2011.
- One cloud, many resource pools. Multi-cloud support has always been a key benefit of the RightScale platform, and this past year has seen rapid acceleration of customer adoption in this regard. True private clouds emerged as key complements to public clouds, and companies now have unprecedented choice among cloud infrastructure alternatives, including public, private and hybrid clouds. In a survey of customers, RightScale found that 84 percent of compute power managed by its platform belongs to companies that are using more than one cloud. With RightScale, users have access to nine public clouds across the globe, and can also build private clouds with the help of RightScale's three leading private cloud partners. In effect, customers can view the world as a single large cloud, composed of multiple resource pools offered by a variety of service providers – whether public third parties or private internal IT departments – on which they can run their applications.
2012 Cloud Challenges and Opportunities
- Enterprises need greater visibility. As cloud projects continue to proliferate – Gartner predicts that 80 percent of new commercial enterprise applications will be cloud-based in 2012 – enterprises must have clear visibility into this storm of development. Today, they don't. In fact, they often know little or nothing about the full extent of cloud deployments, the resource pools they run on, and which employees have access to them, making it nearly impossible to ensure high availability, compliance and security. Greater visibility will provide companies the means to achieve compliance with regulations or internal policies; track and manage costs; and help control user and account sprawl. At the same time, visibility will help enable enterprises to align multiple teams toward successful collaboration.
- Standardization without standards. John Lennon observed: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." In a similar vein, CIOs and IT managers should recognize that "cloud computing is what happens while you're busy waiting for standards." There are no official standard APIs for IaaS clouds, nor are there universally accepted specifications for how cloud resources should behave. Yet usage continues to skyrocket, and as a result companies risk lock-in by writing to one or another API directly. Worse, the world of cloud workloads resembles the Wild West, where anything goes in terms of limitless builds and deployment options. Machine image sprawl creates lack of consistency across stacks, configuration tools and versions of components, which often creates unforeseen problems. Development and operations teams within companies need a shared management framework that both enables portability across APIs and provides dynamic configuration of standardized workloads in order to ensure that their cloud solutions will be easy to manage and maintain throughout their lifecycle.
- Self-service is a must-have. As noted earlier, the growth in cloud usage stems from the fact that a) it's available and b) it's effective. Developers, business managers and IT pros turn to the cloud because it solves their problems. If enterprises try to enable cloud consumption in a way that limits its availability or effectiveness, they will be doomed to fail. The only way forward is to gain visibility and control of cloud usage without limiting ease-of-consumption – and that means offering self-service for users. By implementing standardized but dynamically configurable workloads – such as through the use of RightScale ServerTemplates – enterprise IT staff can give developers and business users the ability to access resources instantly while ensuring best practices for operational excellence.
- Michael Crandell, CEO, RightScale: "Enterprises today are no longer asking 'should we move to the cloud?' because they have been swept up in the momentum – whether they realize it or not," said Michael Crandell, CEO of RightScale. "The task for enterprises moving forward is less about selecting individual pieces in the cloud puzzle to work with, and more about putting the whole puzzle together. That means gaining visibility into and enabling the entire lifecycle of cloud-based applications, from development to deployment to operations – and doing so across multiple cloud providers and resource pools. That's the true promise of cloud computing, and the only way to realize it is through multi-cloud management."
- Erik Osterman, Director of Operations, CBS Interactive: "We want to use a combination of public and private clouds, so standardization is critical because it offers us a consistent way of doing things," said Erik Osterman, Director of Operations at CBS Interactive, an online content network for information and entertainment. "RightScale is a framework for operations that allows us to create reusable components which can be shared across the organization, so that we can save money, improve business efficiencies and simplify long-term maintenance requirements."
RightScale Inc. is the leader in cloud computing management. Founded in 2006, the company offers a fully automated cloud management platform that enables organizations to easily deploy and manage business critical applications across multiple clouds with complete control and portability. To date, thousands of deployments and more than three million servers have been launched with RightScale cloud management for leading organizations such as PBS, Harvard University, Zynga and Sling Media. To learn more about RightScale, go to http://www.RightScale.com.
Source: RightScale Inc.