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Gartner adds weight to Cloud debates 13 Jul 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Cloud, Consumerization, Impact of IT, Insight services, Managing IT.
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With several announcements, Gartner has launched a new heavyweight forum to tackle the major issues that surface as enterprises look to Cloud solutions.

Whenever Cloud adoption is discussed in an enterprise setting there are a string of issues which surface. These include security (for both static and in-transit data); service levels (most consumer-style cloud services such as Amazon’s or Google’s offer no guarantees though they may give credits); and compliance aspects (location, privacy, and enforcement of disclosure). Many of these go back to one over-riding principle: you can’t outsource responsibility.

But as the benefits of cloud services, financially and in flexibility, have become compelling two things have happened. Enterprises have realised they have to take cloud seriously, seeing it as extending the range of services which can be outsourced. And the global supply companies – the IBMs, the Oracles, the HPs – have begun to take a hand either with new services or by re-marketing existing ones. Microsoft too has undergone another of its rapid and thorough strategic switches, with BPOS, Live and so on. The SLA-challenged services from the original incumbents such as Amazon Web Services and Google Apps are not now the only options.

So Cloud achieves perhaps the ultimate accolade: a special focus from Gartner. Gartner have announced a Global IT Council for Cloud Services. This is the second IT Council; the first tackles IT Maintenance. As Gartner explain it: they “gathered leading CIOs from around the world to define the rights that enterprises should expect when they consume IT maintenance or negotiate cloud computing deals”. They see the Councils as “a new approach to solving some of the most deep-seated technology challenges facing enterprises, with the aim of changing the way the IT industry works”. Not a small agenda, then.

It will be interesting to see how the Councils develop. There’s plenty in Gartner’s track record to suggest they will be well worth while for members: the name may be new, but the idea of bringing together senior practitioners to share experience and develop ideas is not. There will be interaction between senior analysts (Daryl Plummer and David Capuccio, in this case) and clients. There will be a gateway to established and, perhaps, purpose-written research. There will be visibility at Symposium, and a stream of communications including the blogs.

For Cloud, the first headlined report is entitled Rights and Responsibilities for Consumers of Cloud Computing Services. This report, based on a CIO-level meeting, defines what it says on the tin. Rights include:

1. The right to retain ownership, use and control of one’s own data: this deals with audit and certification in data management, discovery issues, location and transit of data
2. The right to service-level agreements that address liabilities, remediation and business outcome: this includes access to information about the service (e.g. to assess risks) and outlaws unilateral changes to terms and condition
3. The right to notification and choice about changes that affect the service consumer’s business processes: including notification of planned outages and changes, estimates of whole-business restore times, and support for change of supplier
4. The right to understand the technical limitations or requirements of the service up front: related to capacity, pricing, limits of liability
5. The right to understand the legal requirements of jurisdictions in which the provider operates: location specification, restrictions, legal disclosure and other compliance issues
6. The right to know what security processes the provider follows: standards, audit, incidents

They identify one mutual responsibility:

7. The responsibility to understand and to adhere to software license requirements, e.g. affecting virtual servers, transferability, indemnity

Cloud users: catch up quickly! At present Gartner hold much of this information free of charge. And finally: thanks to my colleague Chris Woodhouse who spotted this before I did!

Links: (some links may need a guest account on Gartner.com)
• Gartner Global IT Council (information about both Councils here, with a video from Darryl Plummer and links to several reports)
• Gartner Global IT Council for Cloud Services Outlines Rights and Responsibilities for Cloud Computing Services: Gartner press announcement, 12 Jul 2010
• Know Your Rights in IT Maintenance and Cloud Computing, Gartner research, 30 Jun 2010 – similar to the press announcement but for the research community
• Rights and Responsibilities for Consumers of Cloud Computing Services, Gartner research, 30 Jun 2010: this is a report from the Council meeting with a precis of the discussion and a summary of recommendations in each of the seven areas, and a list of those participating
Gartner’s Global IT Council on Cloud Computing: Do You Have Rights? Blog, Darryl Plummer, 11 Jul 2010

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