New Zealand businesses have approached the cloud in much the same way they approached virtualisation.
Most are running a virtualised environment these days, but for a long time, they were testing the water, only virtualising minor applications until satisfied with the robustness of the technology and the benefits it can provide.
In the same way, many businesses have been selective with the apps they choose to migrate to the cloud.
But the emerging hybrid environment, which offers a tailored cloud solution and the high standard of security in cloud environments, is changing perceptions.
This, coupled with the release of Microsoft's Windows Server 2012, makes the journey to the cloud even more realistic.
The hybrid model works and it is increasing in demand. In addition to the traditional options of public and private cloud, there’s a real sweet spot in the market for hybrid solutions.
In tough economic times, the creaky and ageing infrastructure of many New Zealand businesses is not being replaced.
Budget restraints are limiting investment in new infrastructure, but data and hosting needs are still increasing.
A hybrid solution gives businesses the ability to relieve some of the workloads from existing infrastructure, while keeping the data in a private local environment.
Businesses such as Methven, dB Breweries, navico Auckland, Specsavers, ceres Enterprises and Jasmax have accepted the benefits of local hosting and reduced infrastructure costs, while enjoying the flexibility, scalability and recovery assurances associated with cloud computing.
In addition, an increasing number of Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and systems integrators are endorsing the cloud computing model.
They are finding demand from customers looking for local cloud solutions that can integrate with existing in- house infrastructure.
The tipping point
The industry is at a tipping point; with businesses now taking the cloud seriously, it won't be long before Infrastructure as a Service is considered par for the course.
Indeed, given the increasing number of proven use-cases, most new Zealand businesses should be looking to include cloud somewhere in their overall IT strategy.
That’s because the inherent design of cloud services allow businesses to grow and expand in ways that weren’t previously possible.
The small start-up doesn’t have to invest in infrastructure; it can pay for what it uses, which can be scaled up or down to mirror demand.
Likewise, the large corporate stands to achieve greater organisational efficiencies while shifting IT infrastructure from cApEX to OpEX. It can concentrate on making money rather than spending energy on maintaining the status quo.
Windows Server 2012 gives cloud service providers the flexibility and structure to grow systems like never before.
It also provides greater reach into the Windows Azure platform via a service that can be modified and adapted from anywhere – as well as the obvious benefits of greater processing power and increased memory.
More importantly, from a customer perspective, Server 2012 facilitates greater access to, and control over, data via automated management and self-service provisioning.
This is delivered via a simple interface allowing users to quickly and easily make changes, add virtual machines and ramp up virtualisation from anywhere at no extra cost.
The new OS enables the delivery of elastic and scalable infrastructure.
It gives customers and partners the ability to access, manage and migrate data between on- premise, service provider, or Windows Azure environments through a single pane of glass.
The emerging hybrid environment is well supported by Windows Server 2012.
Together with changing perceptions about cloud services, it may just provide the boost many businesses need to accelerate their journey to the cloud.