David Cope, senior director of cloud products and solutions market development for Cisco Systems’ Cloud Platform and Solutions Group, says that one of the current top use cases for public cloud is “IT as a service” (ITaaS), where organizations create a catalog of cloud resources and make them available both internally to users and externally to customers. The hybrid cloud model, he adds, is increasingly allowing organizations to “stretch” in-house resources into the public cloud, giving enterprises the ability to migrate at their own pace, as opposed to all at once.
“Instead of being forced to move legacy resources to the public cloud, I can now either allow my legacy applications to take advantage of new cloud services or, conversely, create new cloud-native applications that can easily access legacy resources, including other applications or data,” Cope says. “You don’t have to lift-and-shift or refactor everything anymore, which is a really significant development. We can now truly use business criteria — and not just IT criteria — to drive workload placement, looking closely at a variety of criteria, including price, performance, regulatory issues and access to new innovation.”
Whereas public cloud services once competed primarily on price, now they are attempting to differentiate themselves based on their pace of innovation at the platform level, with data analytics and artificial intelligence, for example, says Brian Hopkins, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester.
“Public cloud vendors are pouring so much money into new platform innovations, the pace at which they’re evolving new capabilities simple cannot be met by vendors who are selling software at smaller scales for either cloud or on-premises deployment.” he says. “If you believe that the pace of business is increasing through technology, and new technology insertion is going to be critical to your ability to keep up, then being in the public cloud means you’ll have access to more new technologies more quickly, and that is even more important than agility in the long term.”
Cope echoes this sentiment, noting that features such as Big Data query and elastic load balancing are becoming increasingly commonplace. “Maybe five years ago, there was a risk of commoditization with Infrastructure as a Service,” he says. “Now, there are these different characteristics of these public clouds that, along with geography, are helping customers decide where to place workloads.”
Managing After the Cloud Migration
“Most organizations are taking a ‘cloud-first’ approach for any new workloads, and are also ramping up the migration of existing workloads to public cloud,” says Kim Weins, vice president of marketing and product for RightScale.
Several years ago, the chief cloud management concern for many organizations was security. But today, Weins says, cost control tops the list. “Only a minority of cloud users have implemented automated policies to optimize costs, such as terminating unused resources or scheduling workloads to shut down after hours,” she says.
Cope notes that, according to surveys, organizations are running workloads in an average of four different public clouds – creating an urgent need to implement unified cloud management systems.
“While cloud management platforms are popular, a lot of companies are just beginning to feel the pain of managing siloed cloud tools and policies required for each cloud vendor,” Cope says. “Things like common security profiles, billing showback and chargeback — it’s becoming cumbersome.”
“Cloud management has been hot for a while,” Cope adds. “But now that multicloud is here, cloud management across disparate environments is becoming really important again.”