Is the cloud truly the new world order? And if so, will the enterprise have no choice but to push all of its infrastructure to Amazon or Microsoft or Rackspace?
The answer is yes, and not necessarily.
At OpenWorld last week, Wipro COO Abidali Neemuchwala laid out in very stark terms why enterprises that do not embrace the cloud will fail to thrive in the emerging digital economy. In short, those who lack the flexibility and efficiencies that cloud computing provide will be unable to support the kinds of services and applications that today’s data users require, with revenue naturally flowing to those who can. This is why Wipro, an IT integration and services company, has teamed up with Oracle, so as to better deliver the “as-a-service” model that is already driving Uber, AirBnB and even time-honored companies like Hyatt to create the optimal user experience.
Not all clouds are alike, however, particularly when it comes to the highly specialized requirements of today’s enterprise. As tech consultant Keith Townsend noted on TechRepublic, legacy IT vendors like VMware offer a number of advantages that more generic solutions like Amazon lack. vCloud Air, for instance, lacks the simplicity of, say, simply spinning up a Windows Server instance on AWS, but it does provide a more seamless connection to the virtual infrastructure that exists in most data centers today. At the same time, VMware is launching a number of projects like Photon and Integrated OpenStack aimed at supporting cloud-native applications using tools that are familiar to most IT techs today.
Microsoft is making moves to cater to highly targeted enterprise functions as well. The company recently welcomed Sphere 3D Corp. into its Cloud Alliance Program in a bid to shore up the virtual desktop, application and storage capabilities of the Azure Cloud. Sphere 3D will provide its Glassware 2.0 container platform, as well as the SnapCloud virtual NAS solution, to enable multi-device support for native and hybrid applications. In part, this is a nod to the realization that simply porting legacy applications to the cloud is ineffectual at best, and that a more forward-leaning solution is a cloud-ready application ecosystem that can be deployed without the standard rip-and-replace approach to infrastructure development.
This is also one of the driving forces behind the new HP Enterprise company, according to CEO Meg Whitman. As she explained to Phys.org, exiting the public cloud field in favor of hybrid solutions is the best way to help the enterprise transition to the new cloud order. The idea is to pair HP hardware and software in the local data center with public cloud services from Microsoft, Rackspace and yes, even Google and Amazon to create a seamless, scale-out infrastructure. This raised some eyebrows in the tech community given that a dominant player in traditional infrastructure would not seek to build its own public cloud, but as Whitman noted, such a venture would be highly capital-intensive in order to achieve the necessary scale, and HP Enterprise is already way behind the hyperscale public providers like Amazon.
It’s clear, then, that there will be no enterprise in the emerging digital economy that does not leverage the cloud. Whether that cloud is built entirely upon public resources or resides on local infrastructure will depend largely on the enterprise, its size, the state of its legacy infrastructure, the markets it serves, and a host of other factors.
In that regard, the cloud will be the new world order, but it won’t be one cloud and it won’t serve all enterprise and user needs equally.
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.