When the Cloud Becomes Just Normal Infrastructure

    Strange as it may seem, the cloud only holds about a fifth of the total enterprise workload, which means there is still time for the enterprise to suddenly decide that the risks are not worth the rewards and start pulling data and applications back to legacy infrastructure.

    Unlikely as this is, it nonetheless points out the fact that there are still many unknowns when it comes to the cloud, particularly its ability to provide the lion’s share of data infrastructure in ways that are both cheaper and more amenable to enterprise objectives.

    According to Morgan Stanley’s Brian Nowak, the cloud is nearing an inflection point at which it should start to show accelerated growth into the next decade. But after that, there is a question as to whether the technology will settle into a comfortable, mature business or continue to foster the dramatic transformation that has spawned the IoT and global-scale data infrastructure. Either way, at some point, the cloud will have to exist as an entity in its own right rather than as an adjunct to existing infrastructure. In other words, organizations will have to seriously adopt cloud-native applications and services in support of entirely new business models.

    Fortunately, recent research is starting to show increased support for cloud-native apps. A study by Cohesive Networks showed about 18 percent of organizations have converted more than half of their workloads to cloud-native status, with IaaS architectures holding upwards of 64 percent of dev/test and production functions. And this is despite the fact that users still report unease when it comes to trust and security in the cloud and the difficulty of managing endpoints, firewalls and other network elements in distributed architectures.

    Meanwhile, Capgemini queried 900 enterprise executives and found that cloud-native applications are on pace to jump from about 15 percent of the total to 32 percent by 2020. Key drivers include the need to enhance business agility and innovation, which are enhanced mainly through faster development, broader collaboration, and the ability to craft an improved customer experience. The only drawbacks at this point are a lack of cloud-native skills and the difficulty of integrating legacy infrastructure and overcoming the entrenched mindsets that exist throughout the enterprise.

    In all likelihood, however, these lines of resistance will fade as new data services and technology initiatives take hold. The Cloud Native Computing Foundation and the Open Connectivity Foundation recently released a study indicating that much of the IoT workload will gravitate toward cloud-native development and operations as a matter of necessity, given the need to function across a widely distributed infrastructure. By nature, IoT apps will be lightweight and consist of multiple microservices, each with its own RESTful API that will allow them to occupy a wide range of resource configurations from multiple providers.

    And this will be the true sign that the cloud has finally arrived: when it is no longer necessary to purposely design an application or service for the cloud or legacy infrastructure. It will go wherever it needs to go because that is the way it provides the highest value to the enterprise.

    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.

    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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