If there were ever any doubts that the enterprise would go for the cloud in a big way, they should be put to rest. Cloud infrastructure is now a key component in most business models and will likely become the dominant means of data support by the end of the decade.
But with great power comes great responsibility, and it seems that many organizations are moving beyond simple, generic clouds to solutions-oriented architectures that can be more easily leveraged in pursuit of key goals.
Already, cloud deployments are double what they were in 2011, according to research house IHS, and are on pace to grow another 35 percent by 2017, bringing in close to $235 billion. Speed, flexibility and efficiency remain top priorities for cloud architectures, which is why many businesses are starting to take a hard look at their providers, both in terms of their capabilities and their ability to cooperate with rival providers in order to create cohesive data environments for users.
While many cloud providers offer application-specific environments for archiving, disaster recovery and various SaaS offerings, the market looks to grow even more specialized over the next few years. IBM, for example, recently added document management capabilities to its Softlayer solution by signing Novitex Enterprise Solutions. The company specializes in high-security Integrated Document Life Cycle (IDLC) services for key verticals like health care, finance and government, and will utilize the IBM cloud to consolidate its own infrastructure even as it extends higher levels of security and availability using IBM security and monitoring solutions.
The problem with spinning up new clouds for select services, of course, is that it tends to spread your cloud presence across multiple providers. As the IHS survey notes, integration of multicloud environments is an enterprise priority going forward, which is why many may turn to carrier solutions like Verizon’s Secure Cloud Interconnect service. The program leverages the company’s private IP service to connect multiple clouds, enabling common security, performance and private connectivity to bring disparate cloud services under a common control interface. At the same time, the enterprise gains features like dynamic bandwidth allocation, redundant connectivity and application performance to maintain QoS and key performance metrics. The service also incorporates hosted private cloud capabilities using Equinix data centers in Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region.
This need to coordinate multiple clouds is also emerging as a prime role for the rising number of cloud brokers. Far from just matching users and providers, the cloud broker is seen as a key deliverer of management, orchestration and overall coordination of disparate cloud environments, allowing the enterprise to tailor its services portfolio without worrying about infrastructure or architectural disparities among providers. And this market is starting to specialize as well, with new categories of integration, aggregation and other forms of brokerage emerging nearly every day.
As I pointed out in a previous blog, we are not moving toward the era of “the cloud” but of many clouds. In that light, enterprise executives need to shift their focus away from merely getting on the cloud and instead toward building the appropriate policy and governance architectures that allow multiple cloud services to act in a coordinated fashion.
Going forward, acquiring the necessary resources and services will be easy. Controlling them will be a shade more difficult.