In a world of constant connectivity, digital is the new normal — and cloud computing is a major part of this revolution. Recently, Gartner proclaimed that enterprise spending on cloud-based offerings will eclipse spending on non-cloud IT offerings by 2022, with platform as a service (PaaS) technologies — a broad collection of application infrastructure services — becoming the prevailing platform delivery model moving forward.
While PaaS capabilities support the role of a cloud platform, all cloud services including infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) can play critical roles for a platform, Gartner says. That means looking for and recognizing the opportunities for platform-based innovation across the entire spectrum of cloud services must be part of every cloud strategy.
“Organizations that embrace the potential roles and unique differentiators of IaaS, PaaS and instrumented SaaS in the spectrum of cloud platform capabilities stand to extract the greatest value from their cloud investments,” said Yefim Natis, distinguished research vice president at Gartner.
However, while many organizations are adopting cloud, their individual journeys to the cloud ecosystem can be quite different. Variables include an organization’s underlying infrastructure, usage of virtualization, software-defined solutions and the available choices around the overall architecture of both cloud and its business.
A recent ITPro Today study conducted in partnership with Dell EMC looks at ‘The State of Cloud.’ Beyond asking questions around adoption and deployment, we focused on core benefits, unique infrastructure designs and deep integration with advanced hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), virtualization and software-defined solutions. This study reveals specific use-cases around data governance and cloud architecture, and spotlights what organizations are doing to support initiatives around growth, compliance and even multi-cloud management.
Cloud Goes Mainstream: Why You Should Be Prepared
As cloud goes mainstream, it will increasingly dominate enterprise IT decisions. A recent Gartner report projects that spending on cloud system infrastructure services will grow from $39.5 billion in 2019 to $63 billion through 2021.
Our report findings support these trends. When it comes to the current state of cloud, four in five respondents (80%) are leveraging some form of cloud solutions. From there, 30% have a hybrid cloud solution, and 22% leverage a multi-cloud ecosystem. A good number of respondents are using private cloud solutions as well.
In a data-driven world, applications, connected systems and data-generating services impact the way we do business every single day. When it comes to leveraging cloud, the most commonly planned use cases include new projects and business initiatives (49%), reducing data center footprint (42%) and deploying newly developed applications.
Who’s leading the cloud computing pack at the moment?
- Microsoft Azure: 57%
- Amazon AWS: 43%
- Google Cloud Platform: 27%
Microsoft-focused organizations clearly see that a strong infrastructure connected to the software giant’s Azure cloud services platform is an amazing way to enable business evolution. Those using Azure cite overall integration with the Microsoft ecosystem as its primary benefit (79%), followed by ease of use within Azure (59%) and direct integration between the physical platform and the Azure cloud (48%).
Other core benefits of connecting with Azure include:
- Depth of services
- Integration with DevOps and overall application delivery strategies
- Data protection and locality offerings
- Storage options and integration with software-defined storage solutions
- Deep segmentation of data and resources
Yet another benefit of Azure: future-proofed deployments. Microsoft and partner Intel have assembled a years-long, forward-looking product roadmap offering Microsoft early access to Intel innovation and technologies, in turn enabling a host of intelligent Azure cloud services. The result is a cloud platform that is not only flexible, scalable and optimized for innovation and business growth, but also cost-effective, reliable and easy to manage, complete with automatic backups and redundancy for maximum security and compliance.
The Right Cloud Model Is About Efficiency, Value and Choice
It’s important to pause here and understand that cloud is not just one model or architecture. In fact, the beauty of cloud is that it’s really all about choice — for example, the option of extending your data center into the cloud. Eighty-three percent of respondents believe that the ability to seamlessly move into the cloud is at least somewhat critical.
Furthermore, there are a lot of added benefits of moving into the cloud, including:
- Ability to scale
- Integration with security
- Ease of use
- Integration with applications and/or application development
- Integration with underlying infrastructure (HCI-enabled cloud extension, for example)
- Leveraging cloud services on-premise
But when it comes to implementing a design, there are still some challenges. The biggest issues facing cloud adoption are complexity around security (57%), cost (45%), legacy infrastructure (40%) and challenges around governance, risk and compliance (39%).
This is where choice and good design make all the difference.
First, you need to let go of legacy: just because “it works” doesn’t mean your infrastructure is bringing your business any value. Furthermore, you’ll face a lot of manual management, potential security holes and additional costs to try and keep that environment running. The other big challenges revolve around key concerns like uptime, resiliency and density. Our report indicates that 42% of organizations struggle with day-to-day management of legacy gear. Finally, the challenge of legacy is preventing organizations from innovating and becoming a bigger part of the digital economy.
With that in mind, let’s discuss design, convergence and choice. One in four respondents (24%) is currently leveraging a converged architecture solution. Those doing so cite software integration allowing for expansion into cloud (61%) as its key benefit, followed by saving on data center space (51%).
From there, respondents leveraging a converged architecture solution are most likely to use it to extend into the cloud (40%). The benefits of integrating HCI solutions with cloud services include the seamless integration of virtualization systems with cloud (57%), creating a logical extension of the infrastructure (48%) and the ability to control data much more effectively and securely (42%).
A key connecting point here is using HCI in conjunction with software-defined solutions. From an architectural perspective, software-defined designs allow you to abstract truly complex functionality from the underlying hardware, and make it software-only. This means you can intelligently manage your entire network on-premise and in a hybrid design, all from a software console.
How does this impact emerging use cases when working with cloud? The most common use cases include creating better levels of resiliency (45%), improving VM utilization and resource use (39%), and creating improved methods around data control (37%).
A software-defined solution gives you the choices required to be successful in a cloud design. You can extend into a multi-cloud architecture, you can leverage virtualization to support containers and new DevOps initiatives, and you can even use HCI for unparalleled levels of density. Furthermore, you’re managing much of this from the software layer. Deep integration between HCI and virtualization solutions like VMware allows users to span vast networks, incorporate automation for smarter controls and easily integrate cloud, creating a cloud ecosystem that’s far more intelligent and easier to manage.
Most of all, you’re building a platform that can manage data more effectively. Over half of respondents (57%) surveyed for our report said that almost all data is on-premise at their data centers. Four in 10 (40%) leverage cloud to extend some of their data, and 27% leverage cloud services. From there, 42% of respondents are able to leverage their converged architecture solution to isolate specific workloads and data points for cloud or on-premise use. This translates to more freedom and choice: A business can select the cloud ecosystem that best suits its needs, as well as the best way to manage data and the best possible underlying infrastructure for factors like security, resiliency and density.
Final Thoughts… and a Look at Our Connected Future
Cloud is the future of business, but your individual journey there may be unique. Leaders in the technology space are using intelligent converged infrastructure solutions to revolutionize the way they manage data and applications, and how they extend into the cloud. The beauty of HCI and software-defined solutions is that they offer organizations the freedom to choose.
Looking ahead, deep integration with underlying virtualization engines will allow legacy workloads to run right alongside next-generation containers, all while leveraging the power of cloud. In the management framework, you can further scale between on-premise resources and those in the cloud. These types of systems not only help remove a lot of complexity in working with cloud, but also give your business the room and freedom to grow.
Remember, the pace of cloud adoption is only going to increase. Thirty-six percent of respondents plan on embracing cloud for advanced use cases, including leveraging data services, warehousing, analytics, AI, big data and machine learning. So when you design your cloud extension solutions, be sure to look at an architecture that helps make your life easier — and supports your cloud and infrastructure choices today, tomorrow and beyond.