The cloud has achieved a level of trust in the past few months that is causing many organizations to start seriously thinking about shedding traditional data infrastructure entirely in favor of a fully service-based ecosystem.
But this is not just a matter of pulling the plug on the data center and relaunching on Amazon. A change of this magnitude reaches far beyond mere technology to strike at the very purpose of the enterprise in the digital economy.
For large enterprises, this is particularly troublesome because it is not easy to overcome the inertia that has set in amid long-held architectures and processes, but at the same time the transition must be carried out in due haste before a hungry cloud-native start-ups upends the business model. As PwC partner Mike Pearl noted on CIO recently, one of the ways to bridge this divide is to embrace the concept of the “configurable enterprise,” in which cloud-based applications are integrated into core enterprise competencies and operating models to revive or create entirely new revenue streams and market opportunities. If done correctly, even large, slow-moving enterprises will gain a rapid development ecosystem that will match the newcomers in innovation and agility.
Leading cloud providers are already pushing this vision in the hopes of providing higher-margin enterprise services instead of bulk resources that have been their stock and trade so far. Google recently unveiled a series of updates to its Cloud Platform that seek to improve upon many of the legacy applications that organizations currently provide in-house. Included are enhanced versions of Postgres and SQL Server aimed at drawing Oracle and .Net applications, as well as a new database service called Spanner that features a time-stamped architecture to benefit SQL and ACID-compliant transactions. The company also has new 64-core virtual machines that support up to 416 GB of memory, soon to be upgraded to 1 TB.
Emerging DevOps programs will also gain added impetus in the cloud through a new hosted service for GitHub’s enterprise-class collaboration platform. The release features support for SAML-based single sign-on as well as automated provisioning and decommissioning. GitHub is also promising 99.95 percent uptime in its SLA with rates as low as $21 per user per month. At the same time, the company has a companion release for private cloud deployments that features automated load balancing, UI-based merge conflict resolution, and new options for review requests to streamline workflows.
Despite these and other offerings, how can the enterprise know that the cloud-native enterprise concept is not just a passing fad? After all, the tech industry is rife with the bones of “the next big thing” that turned out to be duds once the realities of working production environments came into play. According to HCL Technologies’ Kalyan Kumar B, however, cloud-native technologies are the only practical means to implement the digital transformation that all organizations will have to go through in order to thrive in the digital economy. Already, legacy infrastructure is chafing under emerging data loads and the speed at which business is being conducted, and we’ve only just started on the road to Big Data and the Internet of Things. By now, organizations should be well-versed in the “consume-configure-build” methodology that utilizes various levels of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS to fulfill enterprise needs, with a strong focus on application integration and intelligent analytics to support rapid process completion and insight-driven decision-making.
Despite the urgency that enterprises face when embracing the cloud, it is important to remember that the transition should still be planned out carefully. The last thing anyone wants is to pull the rug out from under longstanding applications before the cloud can step in to provide adequate support. And, of course, a new operational environment will require a fair degree of employee retraining as well.
But the future will be here before you know it, and the enterprise that remains steeped in silo-based physical or even virtual infrastructure will soon find itself out-hustled in the new economy.
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.