Memo to I.T.: Don’t fight the public cloud; embrace it

Simon Crosby - Citrix - Structure 2011

Simon Crosby - Citrix - Structure 2011When it comes to cloud computing, corporate I.T. doesn’t quite “get it” just yet. Simon Crosby, CTO, datacenter and cloud division, Citrix Systems said on Wednesday that the enterprise cloud isn’t about adding more servers, virtual machines and very costly engineers. Instead, the cloud adoption process is one of a “creative model of destruction,” because the corporate cloud should be adopting automation for efficiency. The other big barrier to enterprise cloud adoption is finding ways to merge the public cloud with private clouds in a way that provides trust and availability.

Speaking at the GigaOM Structure conference in San Francisco, Crosby noted that enterprise employees will find ways to use the public cloud and skirt I.T. policies through the use of services such as Dropbox, Box.net, Amazon Web Services and others. And it’s essentially a losing battle to fight the tide. Crosby pointed to the “cloud in your pocket,” alluding to smartphone apps that already leverage cloud services.

Think Digg, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to name a few. There are no I.T. operations for the cloud-based bits of these apps and mobile app usage is already leapfrogging that of the mobile web: a trend unlikely to reverse. Crosby emphasized the point, saying this type of cloud is “growing faster than in the data center, laying waste to the notion of the PC and changing the enterprise I.T. segment faster than anything in a data center.”

The key challenge, according to Crosby, is how to securely deliver enterprise data and services to employees that have a tendency to go anywhere outside I.T. and violate corporate policy? Centralizing data and building protected clients is one answer, while specialized virtual machines that can wall off data is another. Crosby thinks there’s an even better solution out there that can offer continuous protection in a virtualized state, but it’s just a concept for now. He’s working on the implementation of the idea, however. Today, Crosby announced he’ll be leaving Citrix to found Bromium to bring just such a solution in the future.

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