The cloud transition is well underway by now, but some people might be surprised to learn that the migration so far has been rather muted. In fact, research is starting to show that the real push to cloud-based infrastructure is only just now gaining real momentum.
According to a recent report from the Uptime Institute, about half of senior IT leadership believes that the majority of the workload will reside off-premises sometime in the future, with nearly three quarters of that group not expecting it to happen until 2020. This suggests that the top brass in IT is either utterly clueless about the actual state of their IT infrastructure, or that the cloud is still not the dominant form of application and data support that the trade press makes it out to be.
Tales of shadow IT abound, of course, but the fact remains that many organizations have adopted strict policies regarding cloud usage from practically the moment providers started pitching their solutions to line-of-business managers rather than IT executives. But this may be changing, says Gartner. In the research firm’s latest report highlighting opportunities for cloud providers, analysts contend that by the end of the decade, a “no cloud” policy will become as rare as a “no Internet” policy. In fact, upwards of 30 percent of the world’s largest companies are on the verge of shifting their software development policies from “cloud first” to “cloud only.” This would cover public, private and hybrid clouds, of course, so the enterprise is likely to retain some local infrastructure even as third-party resources take on a greater share of the workload, including portions that are deemed critical.
For those who are late to the cloud party, however, the news is not all bad. As tech analyst Ian Murphy noted on Virtualization Review recently, groups that have held back from the cloud will find the transition easier and the results more satisfactory compared to early adopters. First, market maturity has ironed out many of the kinks, including the all-important security and reliability concerns. As well, template-based hybrid solutions are easing what was once a considerable integration burden. And on the productivity side, advanced cloud-native applications and services are driving new business processes, and agile development models are becoming increasingly cloud-friendly.
But while it is important to embrace the cloud as an IT solution, it should not become the focus of the decision-making process, says Andi Mann, chief technologist at Splunk. The true goal is to produce successful business outcomes, which may or may not call for a cloud footprint depending on the level of visibility, control and other factors required by the process. To be sure, modernizing infrastructure will always remain a top priority for the enterprise, but the days of simply deploying the latest, greatest technology first and then figuring out what to do with it later are over.
One thing seems clear, though, in a few short years “the cloud” will be synonymous with “data infrastructure.” This will give the enterprise unprecedented flexibility when it comes to matching workloads with appropriate resources and then harnessing both in support of strategic and operational objectives.
In this way, the transition to the cloud differs from previous technology shifts in one key way: The use-case is now the top driver, not the advanced data-handling capabilities of the infrastructure.
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.