Navigating the challenges of a hybrid cloud strategy
Fri 22 Sep 2017 | Dimuth Samaranayaka
Dimuth Samaranayaka, CEO of Ascension IT, discusses the move towards hybrid strategies and the challenges this can present for businesses
Over the last few years, enterprise digital transformation initiatives have resulted in a dramatic increase in the adoption of cloud technologies. Two dominant players have emerged in the public cloud computing market – Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Challengers include Google Cloud Services and Aliyun (the cloud service arm of Alibaba).
Unlike early adopters of cloud technologies, enterprises are now embarking on a multi-cloud strategy to harness the best of the solutions offered by these vendors.
Research conducted by Gartner indicates that by 2019, 90% of native cloud providers will be forced out of the market due to the duopoly held by AWS and Microsoft. Research also indicates that by 2020, 90% of organisations will adopt a hybrid infrastructure management capability. Furthermore, the co-location and hosting market is expected to grow by 8.7% a year on average until 2020.
Data centre providers that do not transform are likely to face significant challenges in continuing to be relevant
One complication for enterprises when adopting cloud technologies is the price of on-premises server computing capabilities. While the cost of computing (e.g. CPU/RAM) has dropped, vendors such as HP, Dell, IBM and Cisco are offering increased computing capabilities and providing greater value for money. Research conducted by IDC suggests that many enterprises are struggling to decide whether to deploy workloads on-premises or off-premises with continuous consolidation of server environments.
Competing with AWS and Azure
With the strength of AWS and Microsoft in the cloud services space, many of the organisations in the data centre space find it challenging to compete. This will fuel a wave of data centre transformations focused on the delivery of as-a-service capability, providing automation of many of the data centre functions and hybrid cloud capabilities to their clients.
Data centre providers that do not transform are likely to face significant challenges in continuing to be relevant in the market. There is a growth in interest from data centre providers to provide value-added services to their clients by adopting Platform as a Service (PaaS) tools. This enables them to provide their customers with many of the capabilities enjoyed by AWS/Microsoft customers but within their own data centre. It is likely we will see an increase in data centres that will transform their business in this manner.
It makes sense for organisations to maintain a hybrid cloud and data centre services capability. Each organisation is unique in their IT requirements and workloads, and have varying skill sets and personal preferences that will dictate the cloud of choice.
Hybrid cloud data centres enable organisations to maintain a multi-cloud strategy which ensures a level of agility and limited vendor lock-in, with the freedom to choose the best technology for resolving their business problems.
Some of the challenges associated with public clouds identified from research and experience with customers include; difficulties in maintaining legacy applications, the complexity of application integration where no single application in the enterprise dominates, increased data volume and size, increased data retention in order to harness predictive analytics, and having to maintain and refresh non-production environments.
The cost can become prohibitive if you have a complex and large IT infrastructure landscape
It is no surprise, therefore, that Microsoft Azure stack was introduced in mid-2016 to address the increasing demand for on-premises private clouds for many of its enterprise customers. At the time of writing, most of the hardware vendors, such as HP, Dell and Lenovo have partnered with Microsoft to offer Azure stack.
Cloud adoption challenges
There is still some hesitation towards selecting a single cloud as a strategy. The main reason behind this is not the traditional consumption of IaaS computing capability, but more that the application catalogue provided by these cloud vendors is ever changing and potentially can influence an organisation’s digital strategy.
Customers also do not want to be locked into a single cloud and want to have a level of independence. While both AWS and Microsoft provide attractive incentives to come onboard, most enterprise IT landscapes are quite complex, requiring significant effort to decouple and make proper use of cloud capabilities.
Organisations are adopting cloud as ‘extra compute scaling’ and ‘application piloting’. When you truly cost a public cloud strategy, the cost can become prohibitive if you have a complex and large IT infrastructure landscape. Many firms focus on the Software-as-a-Service applications provided by cloud providers as a real alternative to on-premises solutions such as email (Gmail Enterprise, Office365). Finally, data privacy and security issues are perceived to be barriers and can restrict the adoption of public cloud capabilities.
Poorly planned cloud implementation strategies are costing businesses significant amounts of money. This inevitably results in depleted IT budgets and greatly limits opportunities for businesses to pursue other initiatives which could add value to the organisation.
Ascension IT is a Brisbane-based technology startup that has developed a powerful platform as a service solution called CloudShed. With PaaS, Ascension IT has been able to assist customers to effectively develop a multi-cloud implementation strategy, which is reliable and cost-effective with extensive cloud automation.