Leveraging the cloud to improve agility and drive innovation

Cloud offers a platform to bring enterprise agility, optimize cost and fuel innovation. To leverage the benefits of cloud, enterprises should establish a best of breed cloud ecosystem that meets their needs in the near to long term and evolutionary in the long term. CIOs also need to plan and regulate the evolution of such an ecosystem else the cloud initiative could spiral out of control both from a management and governance perspective.

Cloud adoption growing

Industry reports reveal that 50-70 percent of all enterprise workloads will move to the cloud in the next three to five years thanks to the cost benefits delivered by the cloud.

In Verizon’s 2013 State of the Enterprise Cloud report, the company has found that organizations are now using cloud for more than just development and testing. They’re running external-facing and critical business applications in the cloud. According to the report, production applications now account for 60 percent of cloud usage.

Financial entry barriers to technology are disappearing, with easier access and delivery models on cloud, according to Verizon report. Security and related services will increase significantly on cloud transactions.

Hybrid cloud: a better choice

Enterprises are also looking to leverage the benefits of both private and public clouds. This has given rise to the concept of hybrid cloud wherein enterprises can enjoy the freedom delivered by private cloud and the cost benefits delivered by private cloud. Public cloud relieves companies of the management burden while private cloud gives them complete control of the resources and great return of your investment.

Cloud Computing

“Security and related compliance requirements are driving hybrid cloud growth in the enterprise and public sector, and require increased focus on your cloud provider’s data center,” says Prashant Gupta, head of Solutions, Verizon Enterprise Solutions.

Security concerns over cloud are slowly diminishing. While security and loss of control were the main concerns for CIOs when cloud first landed, the main focus now is on cloud performance. Businesses want a high-performance cloud that is reliable and can deliver the capacity required by critical applications. Since the cloud is now a tried and tested technology, organizations have started trusting it with sensitive applications. Hybrid cloud concept, to an extent, addresses the security concerns of enterprises.
Companies like VMware and NetApp specialize in hybrid cloud solutions that allow customers to move applications seamlessly between their on-premises and off-premises environments.

VMware vCloud Hybrid Service, for example, is a secure IaaS service that delivers unified networking that spans between the client’s existing and new data center capacity, common management and security, with the same reliability and performance they expect from their internal data center, the company said.

NetApp recently unveiled NetApp EF550, a flash-accelerated system designed for mission-critical workloads such as databases, virtual desktops and web services that process a large number of user requests. The platform provides consistent sub-millisecond latency and built-in remote replication while delivering the performance of two full racks of traditional disk drives, NetApp says.

As part of its hybrid cloud strategy, NetApp also started using its storage operating system, Data ONTAP, as a universal data platform across cloud environments. The OS will enable dynamic data portability across all clouds and will support extensive customer choice for application, technology, and cloud partner options, NetApp said.

Emerging cloud services

Sreehari S, managing director, India Development Center, Novell, recently told Infotech Lead that organizations are relying on multiple cloud providers to meet their business needs. Cloud is also gaining popularity among small and emerging businesses as it helps them become operational quickly.

Commenting on the latest trends in cloud, Vishnu Bhat, SVP and global head, cloud and big data, Infosys, said that businesses from all industry verticals are seeking solutions in the cloud.

Cloud computing has paved way to a number of “as-a-service” offerings. Apart from the popular Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), new trends like big data analytics-as-a-service is gaining popularity. The growth in big data will drive cloud adoption as a result of the increasing demands and volumes associated with data management and analysis. Cloud providers have also succeeded in transforming Hadoop from an open source platform to an enterprise-ready service without the need of a technology expert.

“Financial institutions are looking to process majority of their transactions in the cloud mainly due to poor return on equity. Cloud-based big data analytics is increasingly being used in smart metering to address asset-, commodity-, customer- or revenue-related needs,” Bhat added.

Many organizations are also leveraging Cloud as a DR in the Cloud that reaps benefits of cost Flexibility and agility.

Cost benefits apart, cloud has become an attractive option for companies because it aligns with the green computing strategy of enterprises. Concepts like virtualized data center thus emerged as a viable option for these companies to support their green initiatives.

However, the growing cloud adoption has created some challenges for cloud service providers. While customers take advantage of the “unlimited” computing resources available in the cloud, service providers are challenged with the task of procuring extra facilities whose operation rates are  low,  because  they  have  to keep  the  infrastructure  to  provide  high  performance  and  to prepare for sudden spikes, with limited resources and budgets to maintain datacenters, says Hayato Koeda, president and CEO, K.K and vice president of South APAC at A10 Networks.

This trend has led to the need for “cloud bursting,” where solutions are seamlessly integrated and can be provided in optimal form factors. Customers can use hardware solutions under ordinary  circumstances  and  start  to  use  software  solutions  in  the  cloud  at  a low  cost  only during peak demand, Koeda added.

Pricing war  

Another interesting trend occurring in the cloud computing landscape is the pricing war between cloud vendors.   In July, Amazon Web Services (AWS) cut up to 80 percent of its dedicated instances on its Elastic Compute Cloud. Just a few months after Google approached Amazon’s pricing level, AWS pricing went even further down. As pricing continues to drop, competition stiffens in the IaaS market space to capture enterprise attention.

Rajani Baburajan

[email protected]