The COVID-19 pandemic and the move to remote work and video conferencing are accelerating moves to the cloud. But the name of the game is multi-cloud solutions
A multi-cloud strategy allows companies to select different cloud services from different providers because some are better at certain tasks than others. Some cloud platforms specialize in large data transfers while others have integrated machine learning capabilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the move to remote work and video conferencing are accelerating moves to the cloud with collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
The game is about data acquisition. The more corporate data that resides in a cloud the stickier the customer is to the vendor.
But it’s early and messy.
Managing multi-cloud Chaos
Paul Nicholson, Sr. Director of Product Marketing at A10 Networks contributed an opinion to AMEinfo based on a global survey of IT and business executives.
Some 65% of survey respondents are already using two or more public cloud platforms. 50% of companies moved at least 30% of their enterprise applications to the cloud, and 35% have migrated more than half.
Nearly 2/3rd of respondents pointed to the redundancy and disaster recovery advantages of a multi-vendor approach, while roughly 50% called out cost optimization and performance optimization.
But most organizations surveyed report major challenges in managing cost and complexity, improving visibility and integration, ensuring flexibility, and enforcing best practices across the cloud environments they use.
“Only 9% of respondents are extremely satisfied with their current security solutions for multi-cloud deployments, while 35% see a need for significant improvements with vendor services,” Nicholson wrote.
Top requirements cited include centralized visibility and analytics into security and performance (56%), automated tools to speed response times and reduce costs (54%), and centralized management (50%).
Security is a big issue that is taken seriously.
For example, VMware recently acquired Carbon Black for $2.1 billion. It also bought Intrinsic in a bid to raise its application security game. Microsoft acquired Blue Talon to simplify data privacy and governance. Google brought Chronicle into its Alphabet fold. Other examples include Broadcom’s acquisition of Symantec and Cisco’s acquisition of Duo Security.
Cloud Artificial Intelligence
Software as a Service (SaaS) is about to become intelligent SaaS. Providers are increasingly infusing machine learning into most SaaS, IT Ops, analytics, and BI products.
Cloud providers can incorporate AI into chatbots, inference engines, and predictive analytics.
Artificial intelligence, analytics, IoT, and edge computing will be differentiators among the top cloud service providers.
Top cloud sellers
Whether it's Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud platform in infrastructure as a service, or IBM, Dell Technologies, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, and VMware in multi-cloud hybrid deployments, there are multiple variables for each enterprise.
Public cloud spending has hit an inflection point where it has passed traditional IT infrastructure for the first time in the second quarter of 2020, according to IDC. Spending on cloud environments, including public and private, increased 34.4% from a year ago.
According to Gartner, Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) will see the fastest-growing public cloud spending at 24% in 2020 due to data center consolidation. The public cloud services market is forecast to grow 17% in 2020 to $266 bn, up from $227 bn in 2019, said Gartner.
AWS was the first cloud computing and offering IaaS in 2008 and has expanded well beyond cloud compute and storage. AWS launched a second-generation Graviton processor and instances based on it. If successful, the Graviton and the Nitro abstraction layer can be the differentiator for AWS in the cloud wars.
In Q4 2019, AWS delivered revenue of nearly $10 bn to put it on a $40 bn annual revenue run rate.
Microsoft Azure, along with Microsoft's SaaS effort, and footprint in enterprises make it a strong No. 2 to AWS.
Commercial cloud is a roll-up of multiple services from Microsoft. Microsoft's commercial cloud is on a $53.2 bn annual revenue run rate in Q3 2019.
The Google Cloud Platform is getting a lift via COVID-19 and Google Meet and setting up a strategy to manage multi-cloud workloads. The platform had an annual run rate of $10 bn through Q4 2019.
UAE and KSA Clouds
The UAE is a high potential market for cloud solutions.
Enterprise and business applications giant SAP has already set foot in the UAE by setting up data centers early on.
The cloud computing wing of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has also set foot in the UAE. Global cloud giant Microsoft is in the process of establishing its indigenous data centers across strategic locations in the UAE, same with software and application development giant Oracle.
Last April, Equinix published the findings of a global survey and found that over 76% of IT leaders in the UAE plan to move more of their IT functions to the cloud, with 78% of these planning on doing so within 12 months of the survey, despite over 58% still seeing perceived cybersecurity risks around cloud adoption as posing a threat to their business.
More than 25% of Saudi Arabian enterprises plan to use a combination of on-premises and dedicated private cloud systems, public clouds, and legacy platforms, according to IDC's annual Saudi Arabia CIO Survey.
Applications are becoming more portable, data is becoming more mobile, computation speeds are increasing, and vendors are forming alliances. This will eventually result in the multi-cloud looking a lot like an Omni-cloud.
Large enterprises may soon start to procure cloud services from all the hyperscalers and other niche providers to take advantage of the increasingly differentiated services and deals and help them avoid vendor lock-in.
The Hearst Corp has more than 360 separate businesses spread across Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud.