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AdvantageAug 10, 2017 12:00:00 AM4 min read

Moving to the Cloud: What We Have Learned So Far

The cloud is no longer a new phenomenon. Most people, including corporate and IT leadership, take it as a given and no longer something just to be considered. What has happened that has caused this wholesale change in attitude? A lot. This space is evolving as rapidly as any technology segment in the last 20 years, and with that change has been the delivery of capabilities and virtually infinite capacity to enable businesses to do things once seen as impossible or in the distant future.

It’s appropriate to consider what we’ve learned, and perhaps reset expectations for possibilities in the near future.

  • We’re past the tipping point. It’s now easier to justify a move to the cloud than to justify not moving there. That means we’re in the stage of mass adoption, and soon the late adopters and laggards stand out more than the innovators and early adopters.
  • The cloud has matured as a service, with high reliability expected (and delivered). With the foundation set, cloud service providers are rapidly introducing new capabilities that put even the most advanced computing accessible to all. And the rate of change is accelerating, balancing the challenge and the opportunity of keeping current and leveraging the benefits.
  • Security my actually be an enabler rather than a barrier to adoption. Only 2% of security breaches are the result of a direct attack on server environments. Security will only become more important as more data is created and lives in the cloud, but organizations can see their cloud environments as safer than premises-based infrastructure and then focus on other vulnerabilities… which continue to grow.
  • Hybrid environments have always been the most common case, but now there is greater facilitation to support them. The major cloud providers are offering tools to ease the movement of workloads among multiple environments. The full impact of this is yet to be fully realized, but it’s important to remember that unintended consequences are almost certainly to be uncovered.
  • If there are just two use cases that organizations should move to the cloud without hesitation, they are Big Data and Disaster Recovery. Big Data, having become yet another cliché, should by its very nature live in the cloud. Scalability and access to powerful analytical platforms demand it. DR is a natural fit to allow you to achieve your recovery objectives without tying up a lot of capital, and being able to expand capacity only when it’s needed.
  • As workloads move to the cloud, the network is more critical than ever. Without it, the cloud is just another interesting concept. The need for bandwidth will only grow, but managing for reliability, redundancy, resiliency, and latency are as import as the nominal circuit capacity. Network services keep evolving, with SD WAN capturing a lot of interest.
  • There is greater recognition of the key benefit of moving to the cloud being organizational agility and not just expense reduction. Think of all the things you wanted to do but set aside because they took too much effort, time, and money: time to find another excuse.
  • Private Cloud is being seen as a more attractive alternative to co-lo. Co-lo will continue as the best option for certain organizations and workloads, but the limits of the value proposition will be less appealing as cloud services continue to expand at an accelerating pace.
  • There has been and will continue to be lots of M&A in this space. There are many reasons for this, but the takeaway is this: make choices based on the value proposition at hand and derive the value quickly because circumstances will change. The choices you make two years from now may be very different. But that’s true with all technology, so it’s true with the cloud. The only losers will be those on the sidelines… or worse, in the stands.
  • Software development teams are architecting/re-factoring apps to leverage cloud benefits. New applications are an obvious target for the latest software engineering approaches, but even legacy applications have become candidates thanks to advances such as containers.
  • Containers have become as important as virtual machines for configuring and deploying cloud applications. Where VMs virtualize the hardware, containers virtualize the operating system, isolating software from the environment in which it runs. This yields multiple benefits in speed and flexibility.
  • Serverless has become the latest buzzword. Though the term may evoke notions of computing without computers, it means the cloud service provider dynamically manages the allocation of machine resources… developers and admins don’t have to worry about these details. You pay for only the resources you consume… a perfect example of the utility model which the cloud is designed to offer.

Because the rate of change continues to accelerate, we could go on and on.

What’s coming up: look for advances in machine learning (available engines are waiting for you in the cloud) applied to your resource consumption and cost management, helping you optimize your cloud management. And, of course, greater speed as providers survey the playing field and adapt to market pressure.