Survey Highlights Private Cloud Benefits Beyond Virtualization

By Adam Fore, NetApp

Private cloud projects are often justified based on anticipated cost savings or as an extension of existing virtualization environments. However, the number one benefit of deploying a private cloud is agility, according to a survey of enterprise IT decision-makers who have already deployed private cloud solutions. By accelerating access to resources for software developers and testers, companies are getting new products and services to market faster and achieving significant competitive advantage.

The further along companies are with cloud deployments, the more fully they reap the benefits of improved agility: Respondents with the most highly developed cloud deployments reported the highest level of time-to-market benefits as well as better alignment between business and IT, greater IT team efficiency and better IT resource utilization.

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Forrester White Paper: Get the most out of private cloud.

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The study, conducted by Forrester Consulting and commissioned by NetApp, surveyed 265 enterprise IT decision-makers at organizations that have deployed private clouds. In the study, titled Private Cloud — It’s More Than Just Virtualization, July 2012, Forrester asked about the reasons for investing in a private cloud, the functionality of private cloud environments, the risks of moving to a private cloud, the benefits experienced, and the effects of private clouds on business-IT relationships. Forrester also identified several critical best practices for private cloud deployments.

Market Trends: Key Capabilities Still Needed
The survey confirms that a common challenge for many organizations is transitioning from virtualization to a private cloud. Although most respondents have a virtualized environment with some level of management and/or automation, only 45% have a self-service portal, and just 39% have a chargeback system in place. Self-service and chargeback are key components of a fully featured private cloud, so even the early adopters may not be that far in front of the rest of the market.

The other interesting trend is the emphasis on agility rather than cost savings. One of the common misconceptions about private clouds is that the biggest benefit will be in reducing costs. As noted by Forrester, “Despite the focus on cost reduction for both justifying investment and measuring success, the greatest actual benefit experienced thus far is greater agility for test and dev staff.” A majority of respondents said that they are able to get new business capabilities to market faster with a private cloud.

Best Practices for Getting the Most from Your Private Cloud
Building a private cloud can be expensive and time consuming, although it doesn’t have to be. According to the study, successful cloud initiatives follow these three best practices:

  1. Partner with the business from the start. IT is in place to support the needs of the business. If you involve business stakeholders from day one, you’ll build a customer-centric solution that is easier to use.
  2. Think like a service provider. Service providers are always on the lookout for two things: new business opportunities and strategies to stay ahead of the competition. If you think like a service provider, you’ll be more likely to create a compelling case for your business partners to use the private cloud rather than look for outside solutions.
  3. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Take advantage of the many proven solutions, service providers, tools and resources to help you get your private cloud up and running. For example, the survey found that the 27% of respondents using a pre-integrated solution were “far more likely to have completed automated provisioning and a self-service portal and were more successful at connecting with the business.”

Download the full study for more detailed information on market trends and best-practice recommendations from Forrester Consulting.

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