Not All Clouds are Equal - Interview with Robert Offley of CentriLogic

By Robert Offley (Profile)
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Monday, January 14th 2013
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As the cloud infrastructure market develops, there will be specialization as concerns availability, features and customization. How do you design the best strategy for your business? Robert Offley, CEO of data center and cloud hosting firm CentriLogic, shares a few thoughts on infrastructure planning in the age of the cloud.

VSM: What are the top infrastructure management risks today?

RO: The risks are availability, since increasingly companies require being online to conduct their day-to-day business activities. Security remains a top concern, as well as the protection and management of data for analytics. You’ve always got to have a reliable backup and immediate access to your data and applications. With most critical applications, you need to have two versions of the environment running at once, with failover and redundancy built into all aspects of your environment and infrastructure. CIOs and CTOs are also worried about the ability to quickly scale with demand, because adding more compute power can take a long time in traditional in-house hosting environments.

VSM: Is there a big difference these days between the cloud and managed services?

RO: Agility is really important and both the cloud and managed services can provide that. In the cloud you can deploy a new server in about 20 minutes. In the managed environment, it’s not quite as fast as in the cloud, which is all about self-service provisioning. The cloud is also a bit different in how the virtualization technology is deployed. Managed services can be cheaper over time depending on your requirements and usage. The geographic location of data can be more sensitive with cloud deployments, and organizations with strict compliance requirements must receive assurances as to where their data will reside. In our business, we can deliver cloud and managed services over either the public Internet or through a dedicated connection from a customer site. The lines are definitely blurring between these two options, yet at the same time, choices are increasing. In the near future, there’s going to be a lot more options for the cloud, with segmented services for enterprise and small and medium businesses.

VSM: What skills and technology components are critical for enterprise companies wanting to migrate significant portions of their environment to the cloud?

RO: The primary technological component to consider is the sizing of the cloud environment in terms of required memory and compute power. An organization’s cloud environment should be architected in a way that provides adequate redundancy and performance to support the applications hosted in the cloud. It is also critical to have a secure link into the existing IT environment and compatibility must exist between vital applications and systems that are not hosted on the cloud to maintain day-to-day operations. Finally, internal rules and restrictions must be defined adequately to ensure that cloud portal access is only granted to authorized individuals.

As more organizations migrate their environments to the cloud, the role of the internal IT person will shift as well. With technical skills and cloud architecture capabilities now in the hands of the vendor, the necessary skills for the internal IT department include solution design, application development, QA and testing, and business analysis to ensure that the cloud strategy is on target.