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Clouds hit by El-Nino, future of Clouds in Enterprise Infrastructure

by Vivek on September 30, 2015

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In the not too distant future, Cloud computing will be celebrating its 10th birthday. Yes, it has been that long since the term was coined and people started talking about Clouds of all kinds. The subject of many barbs, humor, analysis, predictions, conferences, and angst, the Cloud has had its share of the good and the bad with accompanying confusion for those who decide, create, deploy, or manage it. Every vendor created their interpretation of what they wanted to offer to their customers and the ASPs (Application Service Provider) rebranded themselves, which added to the chaos.

It was not just about public or private, someone decided that why not create a heterogeneous Cloud and called it Hybrid. Not to be left behind, fine tuning of the definition began with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Storage as a Service (SaaS) – confusing proponents of Software as a Service. These were followed by Community Cloud and Distributed Cloud, which created new business opportunities and models.

The list of touted benefits from Cloud was long: agility, cost saving, multi-tenancy, reliability, scalability, elasticity, availability, manageability, and finally security. Models mushroomed based on assumptions that did not hold water. CIOs and infra heads challenged them, and experimented and explored in bits and pieces. Anecdotal references of ‘swipe your card and solve problems with on-demand extension to enterprise compute/storage’ made many sit up and take notice. How did they pump TB of data on constrained corporate internet pipes?

Pay-as-you-go the new mantra; pay for what you use – not peak capacity, differential rates, and variable metering (happy hours?). Orchestration layers across different Clouds and combinations made headlines invoking the CXO’s desire to challenge their IT setups. Every IT major, data center provider, telecom operator, and pure play company vied for attention with me-too offerings. Cheaper, faster, better innovators and startups challenged the bigger players, only to be acquired or die in the muscle match. The dust is only now beginning to settle.

In the decade that went by – with acceptance of different variations and stretched definitions – the focus shifted to real life business use cases. SFA, communication and collaboration, on-demand infra for startups, and HR solutions have become mainstream. Purpose-task oriented apps are gaining ground, while every legacy solution aspires to offer itself on the Cloud. Mobility solutions leveraged the Cloud, offering new capability. Flexible models of deployment, scale up on demand (conditions apply for scale down).

Today a greenfield enterprise IT roadmap can be created without ownership of software licenses or data center hardware provisioning. Almost everything can be bought on the Cloud, from office automation, to ERP, CRM, SCM, WMS, BI, Helpdesk, SDIM – the list is comprehensive and deep. The challenge arises in two parts, integrating each of the Cloud solutions with the other seamlessly (as compared to monolithic solutions from vendors) and orchestrating all the pieces on the second part in managing multiple relationships and licensing terms.

The question that keeps popping up is the transition of current enterprise IT to the Cloud; when will it happen and what prevents mass adoption? On the other hand the counter question is, is it desirable or adds value or removes complexity? And why does it have to be either or? I would propagate coexistence a fair strategy in comparison to extreme and absolute ends of the spectrum. Enterprise data centers will lose their relevance and disappear in the coming years pronounced some analysts – familiar to past doomsday predictions.

Clouds are ubiquitous and all-pervasive today; innovative solutions and business models are emerging by virtue of mass penetration of mobile access devices. The future shall be strongly influenced by these disruptive trends of today. With an open mind and agility, enterprises and CIOs need to experiment and weave these into strategic business and IT initiatives lest they be caught napping. The future is coming sooner than we thought-be ready to face it, embrace it, challenge it, love it, hate it; but ignore it at your own risk!

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