Like all technology initiatives of the past three decades or so, success in the cloud is coming down to a matter of balance.
How do you weigh the lower cost and greater flexibility against the loss of control and heightened security fears that come with offloading infrastructure to someone else? How do you justify the higher costs of building a cloud in-house against the diminished scalability and added burden of managing an entirely new data architecture? And is it even possible to thread all of these needles to create an optimal hybrid environment?
According to new research from Saugatuck Technology, it seems that the enterprise is closer than ever to achieving that cloud balance – not necessarily because technology has matured, but because familiarity with the cloud is wiping away many longstanding fears. In a survey of more than 300 senior IT executives, the firm found that more than 40 percent believe there will be at least a three-fold increase in public cloud adoption by 2019, accompanied by an equally dramatic drop in traditional IT spending. Workloads described as ripe for migration to the cloud include customer relations management and human resources, although many executives are expecting a steep rise in cloud-native applications as well.
Indeed, now that a younger generation of knowledge workers is hitting the enterprise, the cloud is seen as a key enabler for developments like the “mobile-first” enterprise, says Kinvey CEO Sravish Sridhar. With a 24/7, on-demand mindset firmly in place, millennials are poised to introduce new levels of collaboration and productivity to the static IT environment. Naturally, the typical six-months-to-a-year app development process will not cut it, and the cloud is the only way to cut that process down to size and lower the price to manageable levels. According to ABI Research, more than 67 percent of organizations are already turning to the cloud to support enterprise mobility.
And it’s not like leading cloud providers are ignorant of these trends, either. Amazon, for instance, has been steadily corralling software developers onto its AWS cloud, which will likely serve as a back-end way to draw enterprise workloads, says ZDNet’s Larry Dignan. In recent weeks, the company has added SaaS offerings from Tibco, MicroStrategy and Informatica to its enterprise line-up, which means that their enterprise customers will invariably become AWS customers if they want the latest scale-out versions of their analytics, data integration and other products. The enterprise, in fact, represents a key growth sector for nearly all the leading public cloud providers, because they can charge a premium for the high-end services tied to their bulk storage and compute capabilities.
This is leading to an all-new class of cloud service outfitted with specialized tools to improve the handling of key workloads, says Rajesh Raman, vice president at MetricStream. The Enterprise PaaS, for example, offers fundamental functions and intelligent building blocks required for apps like CRM. This can include data sharing and collaborative workflows for team-based development as well as key modules and design tools to optimize apps for compliance, regulatory use and other requirements. These services can also provide a clearinghouse for app sharing and integration, as well as distribution and monetization.
This kind of customization is the next big leap in the cloud’s continual evolution. Low-cost, infinitely scalable resources are a boon to enterprise workloads, to be sure, but even higher level services and applications are generally only available in generic form, with little or no flexibility to add in-house code to meet highly specialized needs.
To date, the cloud industry has waged a ruthless war for the monetary bottom in pursuit of consumer workloads. But now that the enterprise has gained experience with its own cloud, it is redefining what is possible on public infrastructure. To capture the enterprise, then, cloud providers will have to strike a better balance between cost and capability.
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, Carpathia and NetMagic.