The advent of cloud computing is one of the most significant shifts in information technology of our time, especially for businesses. But like the real clouds moving across the horizon, the technology is constantly shifting. Here are five of the biggest changes in cloud computing every CEO should be prepared for to maximise opportunities and optimise their business.
More successful migration
While the vast majority of businesses have shifted at least some, if not all, of their computing needs to the cloud, you’d be surprised that thousands are still struggling with how to best utilise the cloud, especially small and medium-sized businesses. As more firms of all sizes move their applications and services to the cloud, they are streamlining modelling, testing and scaling their offerings in ways they couldn’t previously. Despite the ease and convenience provided by cloud solutions, the actual migration process may present serious issues, such as lag time and security challenges. Successful migration to the cloud is a critical process and requires planning, moving the least critical and best-suited cloud applications first to test the waters and help work out any issues as the process advances.
The rise of cloud native & microservices
“Cloud Native” refers to container-based environments such as Kubernetes and Docker, which allow for the decoupling of services. The result is that developers can rely on a myriad of open code directories (such as Bluemix) available to build applications using publicly-sourced code, greatly reducing dependency risks. Decoupling also lets developers focus on specific functionalities known as “microservices,” breaking up programs into smaller pieces that can be processed simultaneously, instead of relying on a single monolithic architecture to complete complex tasks. Microservices let developers deal more easily with fixes and updates, potentially providing a better user experience for customers. Although this “change” of methodology can be hugely beneficial, there is a learning curve which takes a subsequent change of mindset.
Cloud computing offers endless opportunities, but our increasing usage of connected devices is effectively decreasing the bandwidth of the cloud, slowing computing down. Current systems often send all available data to the cloud, whether useful or not, clogging bandwidth and rendering services less effective. Traffic jams on data highways will only grow more severe with the coming data tsunami that the IoT revolution will bring. We are currently generating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day and will have over 20 billion connected devices by 2020. Edge Computing is a new solution addressing this challenge. Edge computing lets businesses store and process data “on premise” or in centres physically closer than the cloud – i.e., on the “edge” of the network – meaning there is far less latency and, subsequently, faster and better service. Edge computing will help enable such next-generation technologies as autonomous vehicles (where latency could be the difference between seamless, driverless mobility and fatal accidents) as well as targeted customer interactions as part of the omnichannel retail experience, potentially rejuvenating brick-and-mortar shopping, and more. Edge computing solutions are tailored to fit the demand of the use-case, because the data storage and computing of a hospital is going to be different than the data storage and computing of a smart city or a concert venue. Companies should look at ways to incorporate edge computing to be more effective and more efficient with their limited resources.
More multi-cloud approaches
AWS may still be the leader when it comes to on-demand cloud services, but competitors like Microsoft, Google, IBM and others continue to nip at their heels. But does your business really have to choose just one? Many companies these days are employing a multi-cloud approach. It is predicted that by 2019, a multi-cloud approach will be used by 70 per cent of enterprises. First and foremost, diversifying your partnerships is a way to prevent data loss or downtime in case of a cloud failure. It’s also a strategy that prevents vendor lock-in. Different providers have different strengths – from price competitiveness and speed to capacity and features. Google, for example, excels in machine learning and analytics options, whereas Microsoft shines in enterprise benefits and features. So, for example, some companies might prefer to store select data with Google for analytics purposes while keeping the rest with Microsoft or AWS. Effective use of the cloud requires mapping out a multi-cloud plan to have the best business results.
Emergence of public-private hybrid clouds
Not every piece of information should be on the public cloud, nor should every piece of information be isolated on a private server, as this will entail huge costs for your business. Aside from protecting critical information from possible breach or loss, the use of a hybrid cloud also enables “cloud bursting,” helping your business handle a boost in demand while maintaining the privacy of critical, sensitive information. An additional benefit is that a hybrid cloud enables a mix of private and public services, depending on your business’ specific needs. It may not be right for every business, but if you have critical information to protect and variable consumer demand, it’s worth a closer look.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the substantial changes taking place in cloud computing today. The demands of different enterprises across different industries and sectors are rapidly changing, meaning that network infrastructure must keep up. When it comes to enterprise data storage, most entities that have moved to the cloud recommend the closest attention be attributed to the migration process. Select systems that are not critical first, but still that represent a level of complexity that can identify challenges, flush out the process, identify gaps, fill the gaps and determine the best roadmap to continue moving appropriate systems to the cloud. By doing this, you will be able to refine what should be moved to the cloud, as well as define the least risk and best processes to deploy for your company. By leveraging the trends in cloud computing that work for your business, you can optimise your systems and rest assured that your data and processes are secure and efficient, come rain or come shine.
Kurt Steinhauer, CEO and President, Smart Edge
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