Despite the wealth of experience the enterprise has gained in the cloud over the past decade, there is still a lot of uncertainty when it comes to establishing the right services, architectures and general functionality to produce an optimal data environment.
Part of this lies in the changing attitude toward the cloud. Where once it was seen as primarily a cost-cutting tool, the goal these days is to leverage the cloud’s unique capabilities for more forward-leaning applications and services – to essentially redefine the nature of enterprise architecture for an increasingly mobile, app-centric economy.
To be sure, the uptake of cloud services is on the rise. The latest Global Enterprise Cloud Services Market, 2016 - 2020 report from Technavio pegs the compound annual growth of hybrid services at 23.8 percent between now and 2020. The growth spans a range of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS offerings as organizations seek to find more flexible and reliable means of supporting important, if not necessarily critical, business operations. Perhaps most significantly, the largest growth is likely to emerge in the small-to-medium sized enterprise market (SME), which will help level the playing field with their larger brethren in terms of infrastructure scale and global reach.
What’s also interesting is how the cloud is coalescing around a raft of related technologies to produce entirely new ways of utilizing data and constructing business models. As InfoWorld’s Eric Knorr points out this week, the latest wave of technology development that has produced everything from containers and NoSQL databases to streaming analytics and machine-learning APIs is leading to entirely new enterprise architectures built around self-service, scalability, service-based development and continuous change. This is crucial for organizations facing the transition to a service-based economy as the current top-down approach to enterprise architecture is not flexible enough to handle the demands of agile workflows.
Part of this transition also involves using the cloud as the basis for emerging data virtualization platforms. Companies like Actifio are offering new ways to present data to enterprise architectures in place of traditional management schemes that do more to inhibit agile IT models than encourage them. The company has teamed up with Cintra to tie Data as a Service (DaaS) capabilities to Oracle Enterprise Architecture and Cloud Services deployments. In this way, they can support proactive managed services and flexible architectural designs that leverage universal data stores for a wide range of enterprise applications.
Meanwhile, a start-up called iguaz.io is out with a new data virtualization architecture that attempts to put cloud-native applications within easy reach of mainstream enterprises by basically side-stepping their legacy, silo-ridden infrastructure. In so doing, the company is taking aim at even the data lakes and other advanced architectures that are emerging for Big Data and the IoT, saying that they still entail too much complexity for an agile data environment. Instead, the iguaz.io platform utilizes a multi-tier memory architecture to provide a high-volume, real-time repository that seamlessly accelerates emerging application frameworks like Spark, Hadoop and Docker. In this way, the company says it can provide a 100-fold improvement in performance at less cost than traditional architectures while at the same time enabling real-time data classification for improved security.
Most enterprises still have a way to go before they can claim to have transformed themselves into fully digital organizations. But as more of the workload migrates off of legacy, static infrastructure and onto the software-defined architectures of the cloud, the burdens associated with even minor changes to infrastructure and architecture will be greatly diminished.
The cloud is not a requisite for this transition, but it sure makes it a whole lot easier.
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.