Top IT trends to watch in 2016: hybrid cloud
- By 2018, at least half of IT spending will be cloud based, reaching 60% of all IT infrastructure and 60–70% of all software, services, and technology spending by 2020 (IDC).
- By 2018, over 50% of enterprises will create and/or partner with industry cloud platforms to distribute their own innovations or source others (IDC).
- The cloud market is estimated to grow from USD 58 billion in 2013 to USD 198 billion in 2020, with a USD 70 billion dollar target for private cloud by 2018 (Gartner).
The most important cloud trends we’ll see in 2016 will occur beyond hybrid cloud and within the area of hybrid IT. What, if anything, is the difference? ‘Cloud’ is a buzzword that the market often uses in the broadest sense of the term, meaning anything other than on-premise, company-owned computing infrastructure. But when we delve more deeply into the detail and variety of computing options available, the market starts using terms such as virtualisation, cloud, and hybrid IT somewhat interchangeably. This is often misleading. I believe it’s important to more clearly define particularly the concepts of ‘hybrid cloud’ and ‘hybrid IT’. Hybrid cloud is a subset of hybrid IT and refers to when an organisation uses multiple cloud models to respond to its business needs, which may include private, hosted, or public cloud options. However, when we add the organisation’s own on-premise computing capabilities and co-located assets into the mix, the model becomes hybrid IT. Here are the trends we expect to see in this area.
Trend 1: Increase in private cloud adoption
New managed private cloud offerings with consumption-based commercial models continue to attract the savviest IT decision-makers with a ‘cloud-first’ strategy. The new private cloud models are accelerating the migration of non-cloud-native, critical, enterprise-grade applications to the cloud. It will also provide added benefits of elevating the IT department to a service provider of choice for the businesses they support. Private clouds enable IT departments to optimise infrastructure costs and performance for specific types of applications that had previously been dismissed as cloud targets. Private clouds also enable an IT department to:
- improve overall service levels through customised extensions unique to the users and applications that will be operated within the private cloud service
- increase infrastructure agility specific to certain workload characteristics not offered in hyper scale environments
- most importantly, offer higher level of security options
Trend 2: Greater transparency and analytics of the spend to optimise infrastructure against business objectives
With the first incarnations of opex-based hybrid cloud models now up and running, and with applications having run on these solutions for some time, organisations are starting to gain a better view of the costs and performance associated with their cloud choices. This will lead to a need for greater transparency and analysis of cloud spend and application performance. The emphasis will not necessarily be on cost reduction, but more on improving performance of cloud solutions and maximising their value for the business. An organisation may even want to spend more in certain areas because it needs to, for example, drive zero latency for customer-facing applications, and less in other areas that are deemed less important. Of course, network capacity and performance is absolutely critical here, too. It would be difficult to guarantee the performance of any cloud-based application without having a networking solution that’s equal to the enterprise application you’re putting in the cloud.
I think we’ll see greater use of the tools needed to generate and analyse the data that would help organisations understand the cost, value, and impact of their cloud choices. And not just for a single cloud provider, but across multiple providers simultaneously. It will be about optimising the cloud infrastructure against business objectives through transparency and data analytics.
Trends 3: A greater focus on managing security across virtual boundaries
Organisations used to be able to physically isolate their workloads by putting a firewall around the physical IT estate. Moving increasingly to a hybrid IT model, the very first question they need to ask is how to set up their security in order to protect their greatest asset, data, while no longer being the primary custodian of that data. Yes, they may still use firewalls, but organisational boundaries are becoming increasingly virtual. And yes, there will always be a need for protection against cyberattacks – but what about managing everyday security processes and policies?
Security extends into the end-user space and into the ways in which organisations build and secure workspaces for tomorrow. As the tools employees use are becoming increasingly virtual and served to them from the cloud, organisations will be asking if they can also secure virtual work environments through new, more effective, and more cost-efficient ways using cloud. The cloud blurs the perimeter of the organisation, and the assumption that the attacker is not already within your network will almost always be false, as attackers typically breach a network hundreds of days ahead of an attack. This necessitates an in-depth defence, with multiple layers, and multiple segments and inspection points – an ideal task for a new selection of security appliances and cloud-based security services.
This is why we’ll see strong growth in the demand for cloud-based security services in 2016. Organisations increasingly realise they can get a higher level of security if they’re procuring it on a hosted or as-a-service basis. It means they don’t have to buy expensive software licences or hire top security professionals, and it’s ‘safer’ because they’ll be able to afford more and better security than if they had to buy the required security components privately.