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Capacity management most underestimated cloud problem

Archana Venkatraman

Capacity management is the most underestimated problem of cloud computing, says Morgan Stanley executive director for IT strategy Evangelos Kotsovinos.

Evangelos Kotsovinos is leading cloud computing strategy and execution at Morgan Stanley.

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“One of the main reasons for using cloud computing services is to get efficiency and cost savings. And maximum IT efficiency on the cloud comes from good capacity planning and management,” Kotsovinos said at the Cloud Expo Europe 2013 event. But it is still the most overlooked and underestimated aspect of the cloud, he said.

Many enterprises move to cloud computing without a detailed capacity management strategy because cloud platform is seen as infinitely elastic, where capacity can be purchased as and when needed. But buying resources on the cloud instantly can be expensive and enterprises can mitigate that cost by planning for capacity in advance and avoiding over- or under-provisioning, according to Kotsovinos.

When IT executives migrate smaller and familiar applications and workloads on to the cloud, they are aware of the capacity and manage it based on their expertise and experience.

“It is all OK when you are doing cloud on a small scale, but when you do it at a high level for applications that are disparate and mission-critical, it is important to think about storage requirements and think about demand and supply to provision correctly,” he said.

According to Evangelos, cloud must be used to run intensive and critical applications and workloads, rather than just HR systems and emails, to realise its full benefits. “When this happens, IT executives need to think about capacity management. They must pay attention to potential resource requirements for workloads they are not familiar with or else they will experience inefficiencies,” Kotsovinos warned.

The problem is that there are too few tools to determine the amount of resources needed on the cloud or to benchmark cloud capacity, said William Fellows, research vice-president at 451 Research Group.

“In internal datacentres, you have always had tools to determine the capacity and plan accordingly but that’s not the case with cloud,” Fellows said. “It may be because it is not in the interest of cloud suppliers to tell customers to buy less or buy in advance.”

According to the research analyst, only when third-party cloud management service providers develop tools will cost management and capacity management on the cloud become easier.

Morgan Stanley virtual private cloud strategy

Evangelos is leading Morgan Stanley’s journey to the cloud by developing a virtual private cloud (VPC) strategy. A VPC essentially turns the provider’s multi-tenant architecture into a single-tenant architecture. “It is essentially their own thing. They are building their own layer of abstraction, their own configuration and their own tools around it,” said 451 Research’s Fellows.  

Sharing Morgan Stanley’s cloud strategy, Evangelos said: “It is important to have clarity on what can go on the cloud and what cannot.”

But there is lack of framework and reference architecture on what apps work best on the cloud because it is still an emerging technology. 

“It would be good to have a framework, but until then our strategy is to look for good candidates for the cloud,” Kotsovinos said.

Some of the criteria Morgan Stanley’s IT team use to determine whether an application is cloud-worthy or not include the size of the apps. 

“It has to be large applications not just HR apps,” Kotsovinos said. “It also needs to be self-contained.” 

The workloads must not depend on sensitive data sources or internal libraries that cannot be accessed by cloud services, he explained. 

Then there is security – we assess whether it is worth having the app on the cloud from a security perspective,” Kotsovinos said.

“The bad news is that there are very few applications that meet all these criteria but the good news is that they are all large, worthwhile ones that can yield good efficiency and savings.”

Availability of frameworks, improved standards and interoperability and more transparency will all help improve overcome challenges around the adoption of cloud computing.

"Cloud is not a curse but it is no free lunch either," he said, adding that customers must be strategic in their approach to using cloud computing to see full benefits.


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