Do You Suffer from Paralysis by Analysis in Questions of the Cloud?

By Brad Nisbet, Marketing Manager, Cloud Solutions, NetApp

High school. Senior year. Time to decide which college to attend – indeed an overwhelming choice for me and most of my friends. We all recognized the benefits of a college education and knew attending was pretty much inevitable. For a few of my friends, the choice was easy: they knew exactly which school they wanted to attend and were able to make it happen. Others may have had a first choice in mind, but the price was out of reach or the school too far away.

Many of us were perplexed, if not downright overwhelmed by the choices that seemingly lay before us. I recall one friend in particular agonizing over the possibilities and potential consequences associated with each choice. What if I don’t like the classes or teachers? What if I can’t afford it? What if travel between school and home is too long or expensive? What if I need to change schools – will they accept my credits somewhere else? What’s the process for switching?

His questions and concerns – while valid – were endless. He had the hardest time committing to a decision and put off his choice for the longest time. Paralysis by Analysis.

Over the past few years, I’ve spoken with many customers of all sizes and industries about their cloud intentions. Increasingly, many recognize the benefits of flexibility, responsiveness and economics of public cloud services or a hybrid cloud environment that incorporates some form of public cloud. It’s amazing to hear the breadth of perceived opportunities and concerns. For some – they know exactly what they want and can’t wait to dive in; others take a more cautious and thoughtful approach. Still others are overwhelmed, have many questions, and simply don’t know where to begin. Paralysis by Analysis.

Although many organizations want to jump into the cloud, one of the most paralyzing fears I hear is the worry of making the “wrong” choice in cloud service provider. This applies not only to the initial choice, but the ongoing choice over time. Compounding this fear is the hardest part of the equation – the gravity of data. Sure it’s easy to turn compute on and off and move between cloud providers – but managing and moving data between the enterprise datacenter and multiple cloud providers appears daunting.

The reality is that enterprise organizations are still weeding through the many choices laid before them. Just about every enterprise IT provider has a solution that they believe addresses the hybrid nature of a modern IT delivery model but these providers are offering very captive solutions, essentially saying “do it our way.”

IBM and HP are leveraging OpenStack for their hybrid clouds. Microsoft has Hyper-V in the datacenter and Azure in the cloud. While Amazon Web Services (AWS) may not have a direct presence in the enterprise datacenter, they surely make up for it with their tremendous gravitational pull into the cloud. And EMC recently announced that VMware vCloud Hybrid Service will be their cloud service provider of choice when implementing a hybrid cloud environment.

What’s wrong with any one of these solutions? Other than being captive - nothing! OpenStack has emerged as a viable cloud management option, with much more to come. AWS, Microsoft, and VMware offer tremendous opportunity for customers to leverage the benefits of public cloud.

The problem is that with any one of these solutions, the customer is potentially binding themselves to captivity – limiting their ability to be truly innovative and responsive to their evolving business needs.

NetApp has always believed in allowing our customers to innovate – with our help – on their own terms. Our open approach has served our customers well for the past 20 years – enabling them to build solutions on best-of-breed technologies and applications; we have no intention of changing this philosophy when it comes to cloud. Customers should be able to choose not only the technologies and applications that will best support their business, but the partners and cloud service providers with whom they choose to partner. And this choice should not only apply to the first deployment – it should apply all the time.

Our vision is to help customers do it “their way.” When we talk about a dynamic cloud data fabric that addresses the challenges of data gravity and seamless data management in a hybrid cloud, we’re talking about the customer’s cloud data fabric. Like snowflakes – each customer’s cloud data fabric will be different from the next, leveraging the right combination of technologies, applications, partners and service providers that allow them to innovate and best serve their needs over time.

Back in high school, my perplexed friend was right to ask all those questions. If only he knew he didn’t have to worry about his choice. Of course he could have changed schools if needed; of course he could have transferred his credits; of course he did not need to suffer from Paralysis by Analysis! I wonder if he’s grown up to be a CIO…