The enterprise is moving workloads to the cloud at an increasing rate, but this is not necessarily producing a money tree for providers. As experience with cloud architectures grows, organizations are becoming more particular about where, when and how cloud services are to be consumed, and this is leading to some fine-tuning in the market.
For one thing, says Beta News’ Sead Fadilpašić, fewer enterprises are turning to Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS) and are instead looking to build full Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud environments. A recent survey by Intel DCM showed IaaS now accounts for more than half of all cloud activity, suggesting that most IT shops are looking to virtualize entire computing environments on third-party resources, not just DevOps and productivity software. IaaS is also considered to be a robust environment for temporary and experimental workloads, due to its ability to quickly support and scale full data environments.
This could be due to lessening demand for platform- and software-level cloud architectures, says The Wall Street Journal’s Angus Loten, or it could just mean that IT executives are gaining a clearer understanding of what constitutes a cloud deployment. A recent CompTIA survey, for example, had cloud-based usage of productivity and analytics apps declining 18 percent since 2004, while collaboration tools were down 13 percent. At the same time, however, Gartner reports the cloud services market growing by 15.5 percent since 2015, accelerating to 17.3 through 2018. Is this just a case of conflicting data, or could it be that IT executives are starting to realize that what they thought were cloud-based services a few years ago turned out to be merely co-located applications? If so, then the decline is due to changing perceptions rather than actual market deterioration.
And even though the cloud is quickly becoming a standard component of IT infrastructure, many organizations still struggle to implement cloud deployment and provisioning functions in their core IT strategies. According to Oracle’s John Abel, line-of-business managers still drive much of the cloud activity at most organizations, which runs the risk of producing the same kind of disconnected data silos that hamper productivity in the data center. The best way to counter this is through a coordinated cloud strategy featuring a centralized funding model that allows users to access the resources they need without hampering data availability across the wider organization.
As well, the enterprise needs to rethink critical elements like security when planning an integrated cloud ecosystem, says Console CTO Paul Gampe. In a recent interview with The Enterprisers Project, Gampe noted that while cloud infrastructure can be made as secure as the traditional data center, it still requires its own security footing to accommodate new traffic patterns and the characteristics of a more distributed edge. A key part of this transition is the shedding of the “fortress” approach to security in favor of greater resilience. Outages will happen for a number of reasons, not just nefarious Internet activity, so the focus should be more on limiting damage and reducing downtime than in providing an unbreachable data environment.
To date, the pressure on IT has been to get on the cloud as quickly as possible. Granted, this pressure came largely from users and non-technical top brass who saw only the flexibility and cost-savings of cloud infrastructure, not the data integrity and connectivity side of things.
But now that a certain level of experience has made its way into the knowledge workforce, expect users to become a little more circumspect around what kind of support they require from the cloud. The initial cloud was built, and people did come, but that phase is over. Going forward, expectations will shift from cloud technology and architecture to value and application support.
It won’t be enough just to be on the cloud, but on the right cloud.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.