The good news for the cloud industry is more and more businesses are moving their applications, platforms and infrastructure to the cloud. Already over 20% of the world’s data is stored in or temporarily processed in the cloud and according to recent estimates that will go up to anything from 40% to 60% by 2020.
Additionally according to the findings of a recent survey of CIOs and CFOs by CIO Insight most of the industry - around 90% - believe that cloud-based applications and infrastructure are needed to deliver digital information, while three-quarters say they are missing out on revenue opportunities by not having cloud solutions in place.
However despite businesses understanding the benefits that the cloud enables, such as Big Data, they are not necessarily using them effectively or haven’t yet purchased a cloud solution, because they need to first address their data collection strategy, as well as cost and security issues.
To meet these needs providers are looking to deliver combined offerings, that bring together enterprise applications and infrastructure services that offer truly scalable global capabilities and address security concerns for companies with numerous global locations.
Due to the number of players entering the market and little cost differentiation, the enterprise cloud will eventually become a commodity. At that point the decision a company needs to make is not whether to move to the cloud, or even which provider to go with; the question becomes all about what business objective they need to achieve.
Enterprise networking will change forever
The demand for virtualised networks is not only driven by the stampede to the cloud. It is also becoming a requirement in today’s globalised business world with its long and complex value chains.
Collaboration is key to modern businesses, with the average value chain being made up of 20 different companies. With a virtual enterprise network employees from different companies can all work together in a shared space, accessing the same computing, communication and information resources.
Employees and managers today have shown themselves willing to go around the traditional “IT gatekeepers” to get what they want, with a plethora of potentially hazardous consequences in areas such as InfoSec, IP and compliance. At the same time, with revolutionary SaaS and PaaS solutions available at the click of a mouse, companies do not need to be burdened with cumbersome legacy technology that no longer gives them the flexibility they require.
NaaS (Networking as a Service) technology is the key to meeting these challenges, enabling you to connect together multiple wide area networks, even when they are continents apart and operated by different companies.
Companies will connect worldwide providers
While networked cloud supply chain solutions bring together companies with thousands of their suppliers and business partners on a 24/7 network, finding and then managing different providers for telecoms, data centres and hardware in multiple countries can actually increases costs and complexity as well as reduce efficiency.
To preserve, and indeed multiply, the benefits of moving to the cloud, companies will therefore look to centralise with fewer global suppliers as they seek an ‘all in one’ solution that can combine all platforms. A corollary to this is that users will increasingly require the platforms they use – for SaaS, data and communications – to use open standards, such as OpenStack, to facilitate ease of switching suppliers and interoperability with other vendors’ platforms.
Identity is the new security
As we are seeing, with the high-profile Sony and e-Bay hacks to name just two, cyber security is becoming more important than ever and is at the focus for many providers. Anti-virus software vendors are in a constant, and ultimately unwinnable, arms race with hackers, and even the biggest companies on the planet succumb to DDoS attacks. So what can you do to protect your company, and your data, particularly once it’s in the cloud?
You should take all the usual precautions of course, but identity technology is the only way to effectively and dynamically prevent cyber security threats. Managing who has access to what, and “deprovisioning” employees when they leave the company, is becoming both more essential and more complicated.
Microsoft,Okta, Salesforce and others are rolling out solutions. There will be some exciting cloud identity management solutions introduced that allow enterprises to adopt public cloud solutions safely and effectively.
Increased market consolidation and innovation
The demands placed on businesses by globalisation, the need to collaborate across geographical and company boundaries, the pressure to reduce costs and have solutions that are ever more secure, scalable and flexible will lead companies to demand more from their vendors. In such an environment very few technology providers can deliver the economies of scale and breadth of services required.
To meet user demands there will be more alliances formed in the technology industry to put together global solutions that offer the best security, reliability, price and performance. Think of partner alliances in other sectors, such as Oneworld in the airline industry. Eventually two or three such alliances will succeed and all the major players will merge into one of these.
Worldwide IT spending will grow, with investment in servers, storage, networks, software, and services increasing significantly as the industry continues to innovate and bring to market cost effective, reliable solutions.
WebRTC for free, no-plugin voice and video communications
While the cloud is bringing us new and better ways to store, manage, analyse and share data, as well as easier access to computing resources, it could be argued that the third member of the IT trifecta, communications, is lagging somewhat behind.
Today, to make voice and video calls, or do video conferencing, even over IP you need to use proprietary software, softphones or plugins such as Skype from Microsoft. This will all change over the next few years as WebRTC (real time communication) standards are incorporated into HTML5 and supported by modern browsers and mobile platforms.
Web RTC, delivered by the cloud, allows customers to interact with brands and companies to connect with partners and suppliers – using voice, video, chat and even screen-sharing – from a browser or web-enabled device with no plugins or proprietary software at either end. If you have a Kindle Fire and have used Amazon’s Mayday service you’ll understand exactly the kind of experience I’m talking about.
This technology will truly democratise global communications, bringing not just the open standards we are now coming to expect from cloud services but also greater cost efficiency, scalability and flexibility.
About the Author
Orlando Bayter is CEO and founder of Ormuco an HP PartnerOne service provider and one of the first companies to provide a platform built on HP Helion OpenStack. Orlando is a serial entrepreneur and is the founder of three companies including Voix Video Data and Virtual V Data as well as Ormuco.