Yesterday’s cloud is not tomorrow’s cloud: so how do you build yours?

Posted: 24 August 2020

Peter Reid

Head of Cloud

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The evolution of cloud computing has shifted since the name emerged 15 years ago to describe online storage and infrastructure environments. There’s no straight line from where we were to where we are going, but the possibilities are exciting – if businesses are prepared to do the work to adopt them.

We started with infrastructure (put data in it), then gained platforms (run apps on it), and more recently the development of cloud-native services (build apps with it). All these options are available today depending on what it is your enterprise needs. The key is knowing which tool to use and when to enhance your organisation’s capability.

The hyperscalers, Amazon, Microsoft and Google, have always understood the importance of data and so have made it easy and affordable to migrate in and store your data in the knowledge that workloads, systems and processing will ultimately follow the data. Once started, the ongoing concentration of data and processing is supported by pricing which creates a digital ‘gravity’ of sorts and discourages the extraction of data from the cloud.

It’s important to keep that in mind when establishing your core cloud data destination. Even if you don’t plan to use advanced services anytime soon, this could be a very long-term relationship for your business so it’s a decision not to be taken lightly. Looking forward to those big cloud opportunities on the horizon can help make the best choice with confidence.

Most businesses have already made at least a partial move toward the cloud, and COVID-19 has certainly helped to show the ‘work from anywhere’ values that even basic cloud services can provide. But there’s so much more potential out there for those who want to innovate their way through the difficult times ahead.

Tomorrow’s cloud

The next era of cloud computing takes us into the realm of ‘cloud-native’ application services that, when aggregated together, deliver solutions with flexibility and scalability to help organisations push the boundaries of innovation in whatever category they compete in.

A critical part of this is containerisation, which has brought renewed focus in the era of Cloud. This concept focusses on the virtualisation of the operating system instead of traditional virtual machines that mimic entire computers or servers. This makes them more efficient at hosting applications and more flexible and easier to move to wherever you want them to be, even if that’s moving from one cloud provider to another. Where virtualisation was the enabler of the datacentre, containerisation may be seen as an ‘operating system for the cloud’.

Whether you’re number crunching for business intelligence, analysing business data in search of trends and opportunities, or in a lab solving DNA research or perhaps even researching a COVID-19 vaccine. Embracing high-performance cloud capabilities is there for those ready to take it. But perhaps the biggest transformation required to be able to embrace tomorrow’s cloud is the hardest – your business process itself.

Regardless of the technology used to run on the cloud, what’s more important to understand is how to deploy new ideas and innovations to cloud, leveraging the power of the cloud platform, quickly and safely.

Yesterdays cloud

Change is in the air

Many businesses operate from highly risk-averse positions and have evolved elaborate manual processes to match. It makes sense when big decisions require big investments and can take a lot of time and labour to undo. But to take advantage of what the cloud can really offer, you need to adjust your processes from being focussed on the cloud workloads to the business process used to deploy to cloud. This will enable rapid iteration with the latest cloud technologies.

DevOps is at the vanguard of modern business processes for those who want to take up an innovation-focused position, which requires the adoption of a highly change-centric culture and practice throughout the enterprise. We have worked with many businesses and institutions – see our case study with VicRoads, for example – to enable this shift in mindset, to build a more agile approach to how the business approaches innovation and change. DevOps can empower your team to rapidly test ideas and get them to market without spending three months in meetings and paperwork to find out what’s possible.

Modern cloud services are a powerful enabler for digital innovation, whether through rapidly testing thousands of options where just a handful may have been possible in the past, or discovering things about your business you may never have dreamed possible by using cloud-delivered services like AI and machine learning.

It’s all about understanding how your business’s data, its applications, its customer interfaces and its outcomes can be better enabled by the leading edge of cloud computing.

Cloud futures

As we look to the future of cloud, there are exciting opportunities emerging as we look to find the ideal balance between performance, cost and risk.

The first decade of cloud was largely a migration into concentrated pools of compute, but now we are seeing a net flow back out to “edge” for the kinds of workloads that make economic sense to run closer to users, devices and systems.

The cloud of the future will have workloads moving freely about the network to land in the optimal location. Whether that be a phone or a hyperscaler data centre all supported by powerful, low latency and highly configurable networks.

Preparing your enterprise to take advantage of this flexibility for every facet of your business should be an important part of the next phase of cloud adoption. To be ready for that moment when it doesn’t matter where your compute is running, but that it just works wherever you need it to deliver the most effective outcomes possible for your business and your customers. 

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