There is no question that cloud adoption is alive and well. It is being implemented in companies everywhere and across all industries. The question now is what type of cloud strategy to adopt. While private clouds have historically been the go-to choice for security-conscious enterprises, a recent Forrester report showcases an emerging trend: the rise of public cloud. But why the shift — and more importantly, what does this mean for businesses?
By The Numbers
While plans to adopt private clouds still top enterprise strategies, according to the Forrester report, there’s a shift going on behind the scenes. For example, between 2012 and 2014 the number of companies planning private cloud adoption fell from 31% to 28%. Public cloud plans, meanwhile, were in the cards for 15% of organizations, up from nine percent in 2012. And hosted private cloud — which gives businesses access to a dedicated cloud space outside of local stacks — saw a boost from 11% to 19%.
Private Cloud Here to Stay
It’s worth noting, however, that private clouds remain a critical part of most enterprise IT strategies. As discussed by ExecutiveGov, for example, defense and civilian agencies spent $1 billion over the last three years on private cloud contracts, and demand for private cloud engineering continues to be a popular draw across government marketplaces as federal and state organizations look to maximize their private cloud investment.
Meanwhile, big tech players like Intel and Google are joining forces to promote private cloud computing with the adoption of container-based applications. Given the increasing overall rate of cloud adoption — public, private, and hybrid cloud combined — containers offer the ability to fully optimize and secure processes within a private environment. Bottom line? Reports of private cloud demise are premature, but there’s no doubt that alternative cloud adoptions are putting pressure on private projects.
Multicloud: Bringing Freedom of Cloud Choice to a Whole New Level
Adding to the cloud conundrum, a hybrid cloud, or multicloud, is emerging. This new infrastructure and its increasing cloud sophistication now offers a way to balance the power of public clouds for customer-facing apps with the oversight of private options for mission-critical applications. Multicloud is taking freedom of choice to a whole new level.
The idea isn’t to strike a private/public balance but instead leverage a combination of multiple public IaaS providers, a private PaaS, and perhaps a few niche service providers — think security, analytics or enduser experience management — to round out the IT arsenal. There’s big potential for this new take on cloud architecture, and many industry pundits see it as a top enterprise trend for 2017.
Moving to multicloud isn’t without challenges, however, as managing this kind of complex IT environment can quickly get ahead of even seasoned IT teams. So why are companies driving ahead with IT redistribution? What’s motivating multicloud moves?
The recent Forrester report dives into the top ten reasons why businesses are now leveraging multiple cloud types:
- Backup and recovery — No surprise here, since companies need assurance that their data will be available in the event of catastrophic failure. Providers are now developing “one-to-many” replication tools which can automatically populate backup instances across multiple clouds and local stacks.
- Development speed — Tech progress happens at a breakneck pace. Companies need a way to on-board and test new technologies as fast as possible; multicloud provides the ideal testing framework.
- Specific service levels — Companies are now cloud and cost-savvy, and don’t want to pay for services they don’t need. The result? Smaller but more numerous cloud investments to create the ideal mix of price and performance.
- Multiple DR sites — The more, the better. Organizations can’t afford to have critical data or applications unavailable, even when disaster strikes.
- Lowered overall storage costs — While the price of storage is coming down, businesses don’t need to replicate their entire data stack on every cloud they use. By distributing non-critical data across multiple providers it’s possible to both reduce costs and improve overall redundancy.
- Bridging the software gap — From SaaS to cloud-native and legacy, software doesn’t always interact ideally with other “types.” Multiple clouds provide a reliable bridge from on-premise to off-site to cloud-developed offerings.
- More development tools — Not only do multiple cloud environments create a fail-resistant testing environment, but they provide the ideal framework for advanced tools such as multicloud analytics or real-time end user experience management.
- Reduced data center footprint — Power is pricey, and companies are increasingly committed to green IT alternatives. Multiple clouds let organizations pick the best combination of storage, speed and size.
- Software evolution — The rise of cloud computing doesn’t mean the demise of in-house software tools. In fact, multicloud environments make it easier for companies to test and re-test new offerings before they go live on internal networks.
- Enduser needs — Not every enduser needs the same type of cloud access and services. Depending on their role they may require sheer compute power, total data access or a streamlined enduser interface.
At The Root
So what’s driving this pressure from internal private clouds to public or hosted stacks and multi-cloud in general? Companies need the ability to back up and recover cloud data, speed up systems engagement and lower total storage costs. As a result, they’re choosing to adopt multiple cloud types simultaneously, using each for a specific purpose rather than trying to “generalize” IT under a single cloud umbrella.
It makes sense: With lowered cloud pricing on public stacks, the ability to offload private clouds into hosted environments without compromising security and having de facto cloud standards, companies are creating “best-fit” environments which leverage specific parts of unique cloud types to maximize ROI.
The shift to multi-cloud environments isn’t without risk, however. As companies shift to the cloud they’re exposing themselves to some challenges. With more connected devices now part of cloud frameworks and data travelling longer distances to multiple end-points, organizations face the daunting task of managing security without a complete “map” of their network.
The Solution? Real-Time Analytics
Now more than ever, companies need to conduct real-time analytics to ensure complete visibility across their network and down to the end-points. By understanding how endusers interact with cloud services, what types of problems they encounter and what kind of risk they represent, businesses can gain the transparency required to manage both existing internal networks and the emerging set of connections empowered by public and hosted alternatives.
So as private cloud loses some steam, and public cloud continues to pick up speed, the promise of multi-cloud demands a novel approach to properly manage the new complexity and ensure the integrity, security and effectiveness of the network, as well as the enduser experience.