Cloud is the word on everyone’s lips in every organisation why do you think this is?
Cloud as a disruptive technology is a topic that is much discussed, with many drawing comparisons between the emergence of cloud and the advent of the Internet age. There is good reason for this, there are striking similarities in the way both of these innovations are transforming the way organisations collaborate, communicate and create which frees up the business to become more agile, responsive and innovative.
What are the parallels that can be drawn between cloud and the Internet age?
Well, we see some companies taking the plunge, while others are adopting a more conservative approach. It should come as no surprise that the “born on the web” companies have been early adopters while enterprises have been somewhat more reserved in their exploitation of cloud. That reservation is valid, as they need to make the most of the investments already made in IT whilst transitioning to the cloud and running their business to its optimum whilst they do so.
What trends are you seeing?
We’re seeing an interesting trend among some young companies adopting cloud. Initially, they turn to cloud because it offers them instant access to infrastructure and unlimited compute power that fuels the rapid build out of their business. However, at a critical point they reach a scale where they are drawn towards a hybrid cloud model where they create their own cloud capacity.
Conversely, we are seeing more established enterprises moving in the opposite direction starting out with a private cloud and then graduating toward a hybrid model. Whether you are a new born on the internet company using off premise cloud but evolving to include some on premise as your business matures or you are a more traditional enterprise moving its workloads from non cloud to a hybrid state of mixed on and off premise cloud, the end point is still the same it is a dynamic hybrid cloud outcome in most cases.
How can we really drive cloud adoption amongst companies of all shapes and sizes?
We must make the cloud usable and friendly for all organisations helping our world turn: from one-person start-ups to government agencies to hospital networks to manufacturers. If cloud can help young companies bring their innovations to market in days instead of weeks, imagine the potential it holds for everyone else?
We believe that this can be achieved through collaboration within our industry, such as the partnership with IBM we announced last week – IBM and SAP Partner to Accelerate Enterprise Cloud Adoption. By dovetailing into each other’s strengths, together we can build a cloud which is secure, scalable and open – one which is free of the key inhibitors which make many hesitant of using cloud today.
At the other end of the spectrum, you can set up an email environment in 5 minutes using Bluemix.
What would such a useable, enterprise-friendly cloud be built on?
It would be built on three pillars of technology, all of which will help speed the adoption of enterprise-grade apps to the cloud.
Integration: Establishing a hybrid model leveraging the public cloud for certain projects is the ideal way for organisations to test the waters, especially if they already have invested heavily in their own systems and infrastructure. This gives enterprises the option of keeping some of their more sensitive data in-house, and maximising the value of sunk costs in existing systems.
For this hybrid model to succeed we need to embrace open standards, enabling new cloud-based workloads from mobile, data and social networks to easily connect back into and work with existing technologies and back-end systems, as well as with other services from providers and companies from across the spectrum. With our partnership announced today, we’ll be able to bring this standard of openness to our clients through our integration with IBM’s cloud – which is built on open standards such as OASIS TOSCA and on open source initiatives such as OpenStack and CloudFoundry.
Security: One of the most pressing – and visible – challenges facing the adoption of cloud by larger organisations today is data protection and privacy. In addition to the critical need to protect data in the cloud against hackers, increasing government regulations require certain data to reside within national borders – which presents an insurmountable challenge to many European companies using a US-based cloud provider. Cloud should not only present zero privacy concerns, but it should also be built on a global data centre infrastructure which allows companies to effortlessly stay within the legal boundaries of where they’re doing business ensuring that they meet governance and compliance requirements at all times.
Big Data: Big Data is quickly becoming organisations’ most valuable asset, and is rising as the primary competitive advantage in growing customer relationships, marketing, trend prediction, product improvement and more. As mobile and social technologies multiply, so does Big Data, and cloud is rapidly becoming the only way businesses can handle and analyse tremendously large, data-intense workloads.
Cloud platforms should not only be able to manage Big Data with ease, but should also have built-in analytical capabilities to help companies extract valuable information from these workloads smoothly. By further assimilating the latest advances in cognitive and predictive analytics into the cloud, we’re hoping to bring the full power of cloud to the forefront of the global technology stage.
Luckily, this ideal of what cloud should be is not just a vision. It’s a reality, and is within reach of countless organisations today.