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Five key cloud computing challenges for IT

At HP Software Universe, Forrester identifies the top challenges for the IT department around developing and delivering cloud-based services

National Harbor, Md. – Cloud computing creates opportunities for companies to optimize their IT infrastructures, but the cloud also brings challenges for IT managers around security, complexity, and user expectations.

At Hewlett Packard Co.‘s (NYSE: HPQ</a) Software Universe conference, where managing cloud computing was a hot topic, Peter O'Neill, vice-president and principal analyst for Forrester Research, shared his top five most important trends and challenges for IT around cloud computing.

And to set the table, O’Neill noted he’d taken the liberty of “putting some inverted quotes” around cloud, as it’s a term that has come to mean many different things to many different people. But he said Forrester’s definition of cloud computing includes computing that should be self-service, multi-tenant and pay-as-you-go.

The first cloud computing challenge Forrester has identified is that virtualization and “cloud” adoption adds to the complexity of IT management.

“Clients are facing pressure from business users who hear about the advantages of using cloud computing, but it adds management complexity. IT needs to be a service broker, and source from different suppliers,” said O’Neill. “The complexity is increasing because of complexity and because of virtualization.”

The second cloud computing challenge on IT is to continually prove the business value of the services that IT provides to their business users, and justify the costs.

“That pressure is probably now increased because business users can look at what the cloud can give, and they’re expecting IT to deliver and provide and offer similar services in similar terms,” said O’Neill

The third cloud computing challenge is the automation of optimized processes within IT.

“You can’t just automate what’s there already and move it to the cloud, you need to optimize it first,” said O’Neill.

Forrester’s fourth cloud computing challenge is to understand and measure IT delivery in business terms, and educate business users on the value IT provides.

“Ultimately, business users realize they’re using an IT service and they want to pay based on their usage, just like electricity,” said O’Neill. “So if they’re taking fewer orders they’ll assume IT is doing less and they’ll want to pay less, and they’ll start to expect charge-backs or memo-backs to be more based on their consumption of IT.”

Finally, O’Neill said the fifth challenge that cloud computing will bring to IT managers is the need to adopt agile development techniques to fully leverage the advantages that cloud computing can bring.

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.