By Duncan Johnston-Watt
The revolutionary potential of cloud is a topic that’s much discussed today, with many drawing comparisons between the emergence of cloud and the advent of the Internet age.
And with good reason: there are striking similarities in the way both of these innovations are transforming the way organizations collaborate, communicate and create.
And much like the beginnings of the Internet Age, 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.
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.
However to truly jump start the cloud revolution, we must make the cloud usable and friendly for all organizations helping our world turn: from one-person startups 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?
I believe that this can be achieved through collaboration within our industry, such as the partnership SAP announced with IBM today. By dovetailing into each other’s strengths, the two companies 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.
Such a usable, enterprise-friendly cloud will 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 organizations 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 maximizing 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 organizations 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 center 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 organizations’ 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 analyze 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 organizations today. By making cloud friendly for large-scale business, we hope to help IBM serve as a catalyst for even larger-scale innovation.
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