The hybrid cloud outlook is bright

Cloud computing
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4 December 2017 | 0

Despite the public cloud seemingly grabbing the lion’s share of attention in the cloud market, private and hybrid cloud computing markets have also seen robust growth, and experts predict they will only gain importance in 2018 and beyond.

“Few companies have enjoyed the expected benefits of private infrastructure-focused clouds, but a renewed focus on developer empowerment, stepping into cloud on-premises first, and a raft of new tech stack (will) spark new private cloud interest and experimentation,” Forrester research analyst Dave Bartoletti and colleagues predict in their 2018 look-ahead for the cloud market.

There is data to back up the prediction. Research from IDC estimates that traditional data centres this year accounted for 62% of IT infrastructure spending, with 23% of the market going to public cloud and 15% going to private cloud. By 2020, data centres will drop to account for 50% of the market with public cloud at just under a third of the market and private cloud capturing 20%. What that means is, data centres are becoming less important and public and private cloud are both growing to becoming more important.

So as private and hybrid clouds continue to grow, what should be expected from these markets in 2018 and beyond?

Hybrid cloud strategies become clear
Each of the major IaaS public cloud vendors seemed to spend 2017 clarifying its hybrid cloud strategy, setting 2018 to be the year of adoption.

Perhaps the biggest effort in this realm is from Microsoft which finally, after more than two years of marketing it, released Azure Stack—a private cloud IaaS platform that is meant to mirror the Azure public cloud. Early deployments of Azure Stack are already hitting the market.

Amazon Web Services, meanwhile, has partnered with Silicon Valley’s virtualisation giant to offer VMware on AWS hybrid cloud offering. Google Cloud Platform partnered with both VMware and Nutanix. Oracle and IBM have their own in-house hybrid cloud offerings.

With these offerings are now in the market, 2018 will be a year to assess how much traction they gain and what their best use cases are.

Battle for the private cloud
As organisations have moved workloads to the public cloud, they are now gaining valuable knowledge about what the public cloud is best used for, and what it s not. Rackspace executive vice president Scott Crenshaw says the company has seen a reckoning of customers wanting cloud-like access to infrastructure and application-development resources but in more dedicated or hybrid environments. He believes platforms such as VMware, Microsoft Azure Stack, OpenStack and many others from vendors such as Red Hat and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, will continue to gain momentum in 2018 as organisations find the right mix of using public and private clouds. “The economic value of private cloud will become increasingly apparent, which is going to lead to wide-scale migration to these hybrid environments,” he says.

Containers, PaaS as hybrid cloud platforms
The mega-trend that is driving the entire cloud computing market is enabling application developers to innovate and create new business value as fast as possible. Maria Azua Himmel, senior vice president of distributed systems at Fidelity, says that requires not committing to any one infrastructure platform, but instead using both private and public clouds. “Any company that’s using the cloud is going to end up using multiple different tools, multiple different platforms,” she notes. How does Fidelity manage that hybrid environment? One key is to use containers to ensure applications can run in any infrastructure environment. Fidelity uses a combination of a PaaS and automation tools, like Terraforms, Jenkins, Docker and Artifactory. As organisations continue to containerise their applications and optimise their app-dev pipeline, container orchestration and management will be integrated into private and hybrid clouds.

Optimising cloud connections
As Azua notes, very few organisations solely use a private or public cloud and in reality they have workloads in each. Any substantial use of a hybrid cloud can benefit from having an optimised network connection to the cloud. A market of interconnection providers has expanded rapidly in recent years to support this. Companies such as Equinix, Digital Realty and QTS offer managed and co-location services that have direct connections to the public cloud, including AWS, Microsoft, Google or many others. As hybrid cloud computing becomes the norm in 2018 and beyond, establishing, managing and optimising these connections will be a priority.

Public cloud services go on-premises
In 2015 Amazon Web Services announced Lambda, a serverless platform and a first of its kind that uses event-driven computing constructs (also sometimes referred to as functions as a service or FaaS). 2018 could be the year serverless computing makes its way out of the public cloud and into on-premises data centres. Companies like Microsoft, Red Hat and others are attempting to create serverless functionality in on-premises and hybrid cloud environments. Red Hat, for example, has embraced OpenWhisk, an open source FaaS originally developed by IBM. Microsoft has its own functions platform to bring this born-in-the-cloud technology on-premises.

Another technology being closely watched to potentially come into private and hybrid clouds is machine learning. Public cloud providers seem to be in somewhat of an arms race building out ML and artificial intelligence platforms that customers can integrate into their application-development pipeline. Expect 2018 to be a year where private and hybrid cloud vendors talk about how to bring machine learning and AI capabilities in these environments.


IDG News Service

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