Cloud computing has revolutionized the use of technology — from the individual consumer who stores personal media and files that can be accessed from any device, to the corporation whose storage and application needs went into the cloud.
Today’s applications took years to evolve and develop, but you should be aware that the next iteration of the cloud is here. What does this translate to?
Traditionally, companies purchased not only the computers, but also invested in software suites to provide the necessary applications to get work done. By moving to a web-based service that hosts all a company’s needed programs, only one application needs to be loaded onto the machine.
Machines hosted (owned) by another company run everything to accomplish the necessary work tasks: word processing, email, even data analysis.
In recent years, the benefit of adopting cloud technology has been to alleviate demands on in-house hardware. Running applications? Done on the hosted service’s hardware and infrastructure.
Both the hardware and software demands decrease on the end user’s side. If the end user’s computer is able to run the interface software (often a web browser), the cloud is able to shoulder the rest of the workload.
With that said, the corporate sector has been rocked by the implications of cloud computing, as well as virtualization and hosting options that affect spending, infrastructure, and a number of other business functions. Watch for these top five changes in the cloud landscape that will shape attitudes, spending, and applications into the future.
1. Disaster recovery
The dependability, cost, and security of disaster recovery are all weighed in a company’s planning. In previous years, it has been less expensive to back up with traditional disaster recovery storage compared to the cloud-based alternative. Virtualization is in large part to thank for this.
Leveraging resources in a smarter manner and replicating the VM data to a multi-tenanted cloud platform equals cost savings and faster recovery times. Plus, with pay-per-use cost models available, the large capital investments required to build a secondary backup site for disaster recovery is an unnecessary expenditure that ties up capital.
2. One cloud doesn’t fit all
Many adopters of cloud technology took an all-or-nothing approach when they made the decision to integrate it into their business model and operations. Procurement teams’ and IT buyers’ understanding of the available technology means purchasers have a more sophisticated grasp of their options and where the cloud’s strengths and weaknesses lie.
Companies will make investments in hiring in-house developers that can provide even greater guidance on how to to use cloud platforms most effectively, as well as hosting environments and virtual infrastructures.
3. Enterprise apps
The great unknowns of the public cloud have long made infrastructure and operations teams nervous. When presented with the idea of using the public cloud to develop enterprise apps, “no” was a common response. The shift to accepting and giving the blessing to develop these applications on the public cloud gives companies greater oversight and the opportunity to give developers guidance on how to use the public cloud securely.
4. Marriage of cloud and mobile
It used to be that a consumer’s device was the be-all and end-all. Computer crash? Didn’t back it up on a zip drive? Some serious hard drive recovery magic would be required.
Today, the love affair with devices (smartphones, tablets, PCs, etc.) has to do with personalization and integration with our lives. The documents, pictures, and all other media consumed on these devices are expected to be accessible pretty much anywhere, any time, on any device. Google Drive, iCloud, and Amazon Web all make this a reality.
Another reality is the high demand of mobile clients. It has driven the popular practice of cloud-based back-end services that connect with mobile applications, since it has the flexibility to respond to such demand. Another advantage? The security risks and usage load are taken off a business’s data centers, because mobile traffic is routed to the cloud.
According to Forrester analyst Glenn O’Donnell, “cloud plus mobile is a classic more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts combination.” Where this may not be true is in the health care industry, where security and privacy are very high priorities. “We’ve found that mobile devices and cloud computing are the two greatest sources of health care CIOs’ fear,” the Ponemon Institute reports.
“It’s an environment that’s ripe with potential problems and vulnerabilities. But at the same time, a lot of these devices aren’t necessarily designed to be secure. The purpose of the paper was to explain that compliance requirements really don’t address mobile devices.”
5. Shifting understanding
Misconceptions about “the cloud” are common. Defining it and all its forms is truly a challenge. But the misunderstandings and misconceptions will have to be addressed moving forward.
Infrastructure and operations teams will learn that a virtual environment is not the equivalent of a private cloud. Very few virtualized environments offer what is expected of a private cloud: fully-automated provisioning, cost transparency, standardized services, or self-service to developers.
A truer picture of most virtual environments is that workload consolidation is done there, recovery times are faster, and companies realize operational efficiencies. The infrastructure and operations arm of companies will shift their understanding of definition and functionality, and recognize where each has a place in the organization.
The other side of the coin falls on developers. Gone are the excuses that development isn’t different in the cloud. The majority of frameworks, development methodologies, and languages used in traditional enterprise development are also applied when developing in the cloud.
The intricacies and nuances of web hosting, virtualization, and the decision to work within a public or private cloud will continue to evolve moving forward. As new pricing models emerge and technologies develop to boost the efficiencies of one platform over another, companies will shift to make the most of existing hardware, infrastructure, and policies while also minding the bottom line.
Employees and individual decisionmakers will also offer substantive input on future developments. This has been seen on many occasions, most markedly in the health care industry. There may be no clear path ahead, but with an ear to the ground, we can make an educated guess at what will come next.