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Entrenched Decision Makers Won’t Hold Back IaaS Adoption

In an interesting article on Information Week, Jonathan Feldman makes the argument that because of entrenched attitudes and established practices among “IT infrastructure gurus,” Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) will fail to gain traction, forcing developers to turn towards Platform as a service (PaaS) as the route of least resistance.

Feldman is not anti-IaaS, he makes it clear that he thinks enterprise infrastructure managers are making a mistake, but believes they’ll continue to make it anyway. It’s a cogent argument and its premises capture some of the difficulties that IaaS providers have getting a foot in the door at large enterprise companies.

However, there are number of factors that Feldman mentions but fails to give the proper weight.

The Business Value Of IaaS Is Undeniable

As Feldman says:

“The benefits of cloud computing are clear: Improved agility and efficiency through dynamic provisioning; and lower labor costs and more fault tolerance through automation.”

No one is denying that IaaS offers powerful benefits for businesses, just that managing attitude changes among infrastructure decision makers is likely to pose a long-term problem for IaaS adoption. That may be true, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that if there’s value to be had, either established businesses will find a way to capture it or younger and more agile companies will snatch it out from under their nose.

PaaS solutions have their place, but IaaS offers greater levels of flexibility and control—and it’s control that the infrastructure decision-makers want. Over time, market forces combined with the inherent flexibility and control of IaaS platforms will produce incentives that favor IaaS adoption.

The Cloud Is The Natural Domain Of DevOps

Whatever your thoughts about the DevOps movement, there’s no doubting that in an era where agility and quick product turnarounds are becoming the norm, siloed development and operations departments aren’t going to be around for much longer. As Feldman points out, most developers work higher in the stack, but close ties between development and operations are becoming ever more essential.

As IT operations and development teams come to work more closely together and influence each other’s thinking, and people soaked in a DevOps philosophy move into positions of influence, thinking about infrastructure deployment strategies will change. Programmatic orchestration, dynamic provisioning, and more efficient budgeting are all within the bailiwick of DevOps folks, and they’re features that IaaS offers in spades.

IaaS Adoption Will Be Gradual

To construe it as IaaS-adoption vs. IaaS-rejection is to concentrate on a false dichotomy. Some business IT operations are obviously more easily handled in the cloud: anything that requires rapid scaling is better handled on IaaS platforms than in-house. IaaS is perfect for cloud bursting scenarios. It’s great for testing and experimentation. Smart managers recognize that they’ll be able to carry out many operations with less overhead, fewer staff, and more quickly on IaaS platforms.

Public IaaS adoption will be part of a hybrid approach, matching public cloud platforms with private clouds and legacy infrastructure where there are rewards to be reaped. However much entrenched IT decision makers may dig in their heels, attitudes will soften as IaaS platforms show their ability to solve specific business problems.

IaaS Vendors Are Actively Working To Address Enterprise Concerns

Unless a company needed to scale very rapidly both up and down, in the past, it may not have been worth the effort to adopt IaaS platforms because they weren’t really set up to meet the regulatory, technical, and operational requirements of enterprise—they were more suited to startups and small businesses where avoidance of significant CAPEX was the overriding concern.

In recent years, IaaS providers have recognized that the biggest growth sector is likely to be among enterprise clients and have worked to shape their products to fit into the enterprise mold. The best of current IaaS platforms have staff that are capable of working very closely with enterprises because they have a deep understanding of their needs and how to meet them.

IaaS adoption in the enterprise has been slow, but it is on the rise. We can expect to see the pace at which large companies embrace IaaS solutions accelerating, partly in spite of entrenched decision makers, and partly because they won’t be able to deny the obvious advantages to their employers.

By Moazzam Adnan, Director of Business Development at Atlantic

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