The Next Wave of Cloud
The Dawn of Cloud Maturity
Cloud started out as desire to virtualize workloads away from the constraints of the underlying infrastructure. The rise of VMware from a hypervisor-only company to the behemoth it has become today shows how prevalent this strategy has become. This move to virtualize might be aptly considered the first stage.
The second stage involves moving transient, development and test-type workloads to the cloud. Web services grow rapidly during this phase as clients look to deploy lightweight, noncritical workloads that require computer power only for a short period of time or spike briefly, requiring flexible performance and scalability.
Point tools and vertical software applications are now being delivered via software-as-a-service (SaaS) in this stage — everything from email tools to enterprise applications.
In this stage, clients are looking to connect hybrid cloud deployments — be they on- or off-premises — to each other. Another element of this stage in the life cycle of cloud is the need to broker workloads between deployments and use automated tools to reposition workloads on different platforms based on costs, service-level agreements (SLAs), workload characteristics and other factors. I would argue that the industry is currently in this phase.
The Next Phase
As cloud increasingly becomes the default model for IT service provision in most organizations — at least for new applications — clients are starting to look at how it extends to their most mission-critical applications, their data centers and, most importantly, their core data. This “last mile” of the cloud deployment life cycle is where the true transformational benefits of a cloud-first strategy can be realized.
The challenges of this mission-critical phase, however, must not be underestimated. The data that resides in these vital applications represents the very core of client and business interactions. In many cases, any exposure of this data can lead to loss of business and, worse, long-term erosion of reputational standing.
Anyone looking to embark on this final stage of cloud adoption — mission-critical-as-a-service, if you will — needs to carefully consider the following three questions:
- Does the vendor have strategic focus on delivering these services over the long term?
- Does the vendor have a strong track record around trust and security?
- Does the vendor have mission-critical computing in its DNA?
Only with these three elements in hand can a vendor hope to deliver a service that is robust, secure and scalable — and, more importantly, have the strategic commitment to deliver the service over what might be as long as a 10-year contract life.
How will you handle the next phase of cloud and build a cloud strategy for future growth?