R. Scott Raynovich — Founder and Chief Analyst of Futuriom
For two decades he has been covering technology in the communications and cloud markets as an editor, analyst, and publisher. Most recently, he was VP of Research at SDxCentral.com, which acquired his previous technology website, Rayno Report, in 2015. Prior to that, he was the editor in chief of Light Reading, where he worked for nine years. He was the founder of the Heavy Reading Insider research service. Raynovich has also served as Investment Editor at Red Herring. He has won several industry awards, including an Editor & Publisher award for Best Business Blog. His analysis has been featured by prominent media outlets including NPR, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, and the San Jose Mercury News.
Do You Have Control of Your Cloud?
As we move through the Golden Age of IT, where digital transformation is high stakes for your company and your careers, all roads lead back to the cloud and the tools that are used to build applications. So the question IT managers should be asking is, “Do I understand and control my cloud?”
Today’s world is filled with myriad cloud solutions, whether it be public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid. Remember, if the goal is to digitally transform your enterprise to lower operational costs and increase efficiencies and revenue, the cloud is just a tool to get there. Where the cloud resides comes entirely down to your specific situation.
More importantly than asking whether you should define your IT infrastructure as public, private, or hybrid, you should be asking how well it achieves the goal of getting your operation on the path to high-level digital transformation while at the same time building a flexible, affordable, and secure platform that you can control.
Where the Cloud Resides
Given all the hype about cloud and public cloud services such as Amazon and Microsoft Azure, maybe we should first step back and look at what IT professionals are really using. What are people doing exactly? The cloud is complex and can’t be distilled down to “Amazon vs. Microsoft.” It’s a lot more than that.
One good source of info I look at every year is Righscale’s “State of the Cloud” survey. Here are some takeaways from its 2018 survey, which was published in February of this year.
- Cloud Growth is Strong
Public cloud adoption increased to 92 percent in 2018 from 89 percent in 2017.
Private cloud adoption increased to 75 percent in 2018 from 72 percent in 2017.
- Multi-Cloud Is the Preferred Strategy Among Enterprises
According to the survey, 81 percent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy. Enterprises with a hybrid strategy (combining public and private clouds) fell from 58 percent in 2017 to 51 percent in 2018, while organizations with a strategy of multiple public clouds or multiple private clouds grew slightly.
- High Interest in Serverless
Year over year, Serverless was the top-growing extended cloud service with a 75 percent increase over 2017 (12 to 21 percent adoption).
- Private Cloud Adoption Grows Across the Board
Despite the high level of interest in public cloud as well as Serverless compute, private cloud is experiencing strong growth as well. Private cloud is growing on the backs of a diverse set of tools, according to the RightScale survey. Growing interest in tools includes VMware vSphere (50% growth), OpenStack (24%), VMware vCloud Director (24%), Microsoft System Center (23%), and bare metal (22%), showing broad adoption of multiple tools and approaches.That’s just one survey. How about another? A consulting company called Clutch.co
- Over two-thirds (67%) of businesses plan to increase their cloud computing spending in 2017, indicating high desire for the technology.
- Nearly half of businesses (47%) list “increased cost” as a challenge encountered with their cloud provider in the past year.
- Security is ranked as a top benefit of using the cloud, indicating a shift in opinion from past negative feelings toward cloud security.
- Over 80% of businesses that aren’t using a hybrid cloud are exploring it as a future option, though a private cloud remains the most popular option.
So, as you can see from this wide range of data, there is enormous interest in cloud across a spectrum of many popular approaches. Hybrid cloud and private cloud remain very popular, despite the rise of public cloud.
Some of the common themes in building a cloud include: The need for flexibility, the need to control costs, and concern about security.
Know Who You Are
With the myriad of clouds and cloud tools available and drawing interest, how does an IT professional plot the strategy?
Most companies are not Google or Facebook. They don’t have immense resources and gargantuan capital budgets. Whether you are running a chain of gas stations or a medium-sized accounting firm, the chances are your IT needs are highly specialized.
The sweet spot for hybrid and private-cloud solutions, which can be more cost effective and secure than public-cloud alternatives, are geared for companies that lie between the smallest Small and Medium sized businesses and the largest Webscale companies. Within this range, you may even have departments or specialized applications more suited to private cloud
In a review of many case studies of businesses improving operations and customer experience by moving, I found a common theme of those looking to private cloud platforms to meet business transformation needs. For example, Barclays, a global financial services provider based in London, needed to modernize its digital operations to meet regulatory requirements. Using modern cloud technology, it built its own applications as a PaaS platform using container infrastructure and agile development. Originally built as a private cloud platform, the bank has plans to evolve it to a hybrid platform that can run in both public or private clouds.
In another example, Nicolas Brousse, Director of Operations Engineering at Adobe after the acquisition of TubeMogul, recently detailed the building of private clouds at TubeMogul and Adobe. Here is how he described the process:
“To build a private cloud, you need to be very clear on what you want to achieve and how it fits in your multi-cloud strategy. Your data governance or strategic business decisions may direct you one way or another. A private cloud is not a simple engineering project; it must be a strategic decision. Understand the big picture, have the support of your stakeholders, then build an agile plan that allow you to iterate by failing and fixing quickly.”
Another example is BluNova Group, a large IT organization based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This value-added solution provider is focused on datacenter, networking, wireless, and UC solutions and wanted to branch into providing cloud services. In a case study published by cloud platform provider ZeroStack, BluNova’s IT staff cited the desire to combining ease of use, a low total cost of ownership (TCO), and a rich array of cloud features in its quest to build its own cloud platform based on ZeroStack.
“Many companies in our region of the world want to move to cloud, and the small/medium-sized companies we support want a clean, self-serve solution,” said Ryan Ameen, Managing Director at BluNova Group. “Many of them were telling us that they were looking at mega-cloud offerings like AWS, so we had to move quickly to stop customer erosion. As IT administrators ourselves, we wanted a solution that didn’t require a lot of administrative overhead and had the flexibility to support shared-cloud and private cloud offerings.”
BluNova picked ZeroStack to build its own cloud citing low TCO, quick installation, and automated management. Using its own customized, private cloud platform, BluNova can tailor services to its clients and manage features that meet internal requirements.
Taking Control of Your Cloud
As you can see, there are common themes that runs through many case studies and data. Managers are looking to build a cloud platforms that they could control and customize themselves, while at the same time having tight visibility into data governance and security.
In many scenarios, including the ones above, this often includes a custom private or hybrid cloud solution. The commonly advantages of this approach are cost and control, whereby the IT manager is not subject to a cloud providers price structures and data governance.
It’s clear that with a rising interest in cloud, private and hybrid cloud solutions remain popular options. Managers will continue to pursue them because they offer a high degree of control over cost, features, and security.