Our 5-minute guide to enterprise cloud computing

Esther Kezia Thorpe

22 Oct, 2018

An estimated $3.5 million will be spent by enterprises on cloud apps, platforms and services this year, making up an average of 30% of enterprise IT budgets, according to recent figures. It is therefore crucial that business leaders are aware of how cloud computing can be fully used to help companies achieve their business goals.

What is enterprise cloud computing?

Enterprise cloud computing is a collection of characteristics of the public and private cloud, tailored to the needs of the business. Companies get a choice of where to run workloads, as well as infrastructure that is flexible and agile.

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Enterprise clouds are built with similar web-scale technologies that enable the same durability, reliability and availability as the public cloud. This is different from public clouds offered by the likes of AWS and Microsoft Azure, as for the most part with these clouds, the data sits outside your data centre and the applications have to conform to their providers’ processes and architectures.

By contrast, enterprise cloud computing allows a business to get the best of both worlds: a public cloud experience in your own data centre that lets you choose the most appropriate technology for the business, but where data and workloads can be managed in the public cloud where necessary.

There are five key components to enterprise cloud computing:

  • Full-stack infrastructure and platform services that deliver turnkey infrastructure for any app at any scale, anywhere, delivered through a combination of on-premises data centres and public cloud services
  • Zero-click operations and machine intelligence that deliver operational simplicity through automation
  • Instant elastic consumption that allows businesses to buy and use only the IT resources they need, when they need them, eliminating overprovisioning and prediction risk
  • Integrated security and control that covers the entire infrastructure stack, makes use of automation, and simplifies security maintenance using automation
  • Application-centric mobility that lets businesses run applications anywhere with no infrastructure lock-in

Despite its name, enterprise cloud computing is not just for enterprises. Any company that wants to get the best of private and public cloud can tailor an enterprise cloud to meet the requirements of both existing applications and next-generation applications, meaning that they get the same cloud benefits, irrespective of their organisation’s size.

Common enterprise cloud computing use-cases

Companies of all types in a wide variety of industries are adopting enterprise cloud computing, including those in healthcare, retail, financial services and manufacturing.

Within enterprises, adoption is being driven largely by IT departments looking to modernise data centres while also harnessing the benefits of the cloud. Enterprise cloud computing brings together the ‘best of both worlds’ with the flexibility and agility of the cloud, along with the security and control provided within a data centre.

Some business owners and app owners are adopting the enterprise cloud to enable them to take their products to market quickly, without being delayed by IT.

Pros and cons of enterprise cloud computing

The primary advantage of enterprise cloud computing is being able to have the best of both clouds. Businesses are able to use IT infrastructure and platform services that deliver the advantage of public cloud services for enterprise applications, but without compromising on the value provided by private data centres. It offers superior speed and performance, as well as lower infrastructure costs and more efficient use of IT resources.

This also presents cost savings; by adopting the pay-as-you-go characteristics of the public cloud while providing a common foundation on which to run legacy and new applications, businesses are able to provide the infrastructure and services they need, without wastage or shortages.

However, there are also some downsides. Pricing models can be seen as complicated, and as with many cloud services, there is often confusion over ownership within an organisation. Although enterprise cloud computing gives much greater control over security and access, there are still valid concerns around data security, and whenever data is sent into the cloud, there is always a risk.

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How to get started with enterprise cloud computing

For a long time, businesses have had to hire specialists for each new area of IT infrastructure, but enterprise cloud systems driven by hyperconverged infrastructure doesn’t require specialists to operate. To get started with enterprise cloud computing, a business needs IT professionals who have a breadth of knowledge, but who don’t necessarily have specialisms. These IT generalists are the future of data centre support, as they can simplify a complex mass of technology in the data centre, and can also help shift IT’s focus from infrastructure to aiding the bottom line.

Regarding IT processes and infrastructure, the best place to start is by looking at the current IT replacement cycle. Rather than worrying about running out of capacity during the replacement cycle and having to make out-of-cycle infrastructure purchases, enterprise cloud and hyperconverged infrastructure instead has a just-in-time approach, ensuring that capacity isn’t wasted.