We are squarely in what I like to call the “2nd inning” of cloud. In my discussions with prospects and customers, the conversations have taken on a distinctly “enterprise” feel to them, reminding me of previous technology waves and disruptions, like client-server, and virtualization before. A new report from Frost and Sullivan outlines this shift, as the so called “new IT” tries to better align with the needs of the business and business outcomes.

This starts with the business drivers themselves – while Cloud may have started as a great tool, providing on-demand access to scalable infrastructure resources to support dev/test and web app build outs, it has clearly progressed into something much more strategic.

Frost and Sullivan demonstrate this very clearly with their survey of US-based IT decision-makers and the shift in attitudes in just 3 short years:

Top Reasons Enterprises Choose Cloud, 2011 versus 2014

2011 2014
Defer server purchases, 46% Achieve IT flexibility and agility, 71%
Defer/avoid data center expansion, 42% Deliver services and applications faster, 70%
Achieve high return on investment, 35% Better support business needs, 68%

Source: Frost & White, SPIE 14-26, Cloud Adoption Reaches a Long-Awaited Tipping Point 2014 Cloud User Survey (July 2014).

The winds have acutely changed from tactical (defer server purchases) to strategic (agility, business alignment). And with the changing business drivers of the so-called “New IT” comes a new resulting set of enterprise-level requirements and needs.

First and foremost among these requirements is integration with existing premises or other services consumed by the business such as managed hosting and private cloud, colocation, managed services and networking. Efficient operations of the New IT, and IT’s ongoing shift to that of a service broker, is highly dependent on the success of this integration. Call it Hybrid Cloud, Hybrid IT or simply just Hybrid, IT knows that it needs to invest in a few select Cloud providers and platforms that recognize and ease the administrative burden of integration to be successful.

The enterprise needs of integration are typically coupled with flexibility, visibility and control – supporting business and line of business needs for agility with IT’s need to manage and orchestrate the integrated whole. It starts and ends with the workloads and applications being delivered, and while “old IT” may have looked to cloud to deliver stand-alone web applications and dev/test environments, “new IT” is delivering complex multi-tiered analytical and data intensive applications, and custom enterprise apps across a broad range of deployment models and execution paradigms. In this new world order, fit for purpose workload execution venues (private, public, bare metal, managed hosting) is the name of the game.

In other words, IT is looking for a platform that supports the natural evolution of existing business applications, while future proofing for the inexorable march of application modernization and transformation.

Frost and Sullivan documents the common challenges that IT departments are facing in embracing the “New IT”, and the characteristics and requirements needed from next generation cloud platforms to overcome them – get the full report here

Out with the old, in with the new!