opinion


Is 100% cloud possible?

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The industry to date has been polarised in its approach to the adoption and integration of cloud computing. On the one hand, you have the tech savvy, agile organizations that can see a day where all operations are undertaken in a cloud environment, with hardware relegated to museums and photo albums.

On the contrary, there are a number of risk adverse individuals who believe hardware will always have its place within the world of IT. These more than likely to be the same individuals who resisted cloud in the first place, but have come around to the position cloud computing has its place, though sensitive information should remain under the control of the organization.

The concept of 100% cloud or total cloud is still an interesting one. Is it possible? Will regulation allow it? Will organizations adopt it? And is it an attractive proposition?

Following the introduction of any new technology, various industry associations, governments and bureaucratic bodies will aim to implement regulations to ensure the technology is fair and just to all. This maybe from a legal, competition or ethical perspective, but ensuring there is a level playing field, where the use cases and guidelines are clearly outlined is considered imperative. This can have a positive or negative impact on the growth of the technology, though that is irrelevant. Like death and taxes, regulation is inevitable.

Lady Justice On The Old Bailey, LondonBut will regulation ever allow for 100% cloud? According to Gordon Davey, Cloud Strategy Director at Dell UK, it isn’t necessarily stopping 100% cloud, but regulation could make it difficult.

“There are very few, if any, scenarios where regulation explicitly prevents the use of cloud models to deliver IT services,” said Davey. “Even highly regulated industries, such as finance, are now open to considering the use of cloud where appropriate.

“Industry regulators, such as the Financial Conduct Authority who released their finalised guidance on use of cloud computing just this week, are taking the time to understand how cloud platforms could and should be used within traditionally cautious or risk averse verticals.

“While the existence of this kind of guidance implies that cloud can be used by regulated industries, it also imposes a number of fairly burdensome recommendations that mean that in most cases a hybrid approach will be taken, with some workloads being placed in the cloud and others not.”

And while there could be enough wiggle-room for organizations to make this transition, for Davey the most important factor is that the journey is made in a concise manner, utilizing the right skills sets within the business.

“End users’ primary concern is that their data is kept secure,” said Davey. “When used correctly cloud platforms can help ease this concern, especially for rapidly growing businesses. ‘Cloud’ has become an easy scapegoat however, with the media too often attributing the cause of outages and breaches simply to the use of cloud platforms.

“The reality is that generally the root problems come down to people and process, regardless of whether a cloud infrastructure has been used or not. It remains to be seen which of these aspects will be more of an influence on culture.”

Regulation will always have an impact on the way in which organizations build policies and implement technologies, however the use case and business objectives will always come first and foremost. Irrelevant as to whether it is possible for organizations to charge 100% into the cloud, there are those who have invested heavily in what we now call legacy.

Hand showing the growth chart on tabletFor Sebastian Krause, GM for IBM Cloud, the economics of the business always come first. Is cloud the objective? Yes. Is cloud the objective now? This may not be the case.

“Our customers look to us to explain the advantages of a cloud environment such as, productivity, standardisation, scale and agility and the assorted other benefits the cloud can bring,” said Krause. “But, they want to unlock investments they have already made in their existing systems within their own firewalls. Moving to the cloud has become a discussion about workloads aligned with an enterprise’s IT and business strategy.

“This is not just about moving on premise to SaaS – something we are certainly doing in the situations where that makes sense for the client – but allowing the technology stack an organisation runs on to be flexible enough to meet the demands placed on it by business objectives.

“For IBM, a number of our SaaS properties can have incremental ratios between their cloud and on premise base, something that is dependent on, and aligned with, new business models we are building, for example Watson Health and Watson IoT.

“We’ve cloud enabled 100% of our relevant software, allowing businesses to decide how these apps are deployed, because this unlocks billions of value in Enterprise Applications and Data. There is not a one size fits all policy when it comes to cloud, each client has different needs.”

As with the introduction of any new technology, the mind set and acceptance of individuals within the organization is paramount. Numerous studies, reports and surveys have highlighted the cost of employee negligence and attitude can have on security when considering shadow IT, and this same principle can be applied to any aspect of the business. Whether the cloud is embraced as more than a cost saving tool, and penetrates all areas of enterprise, is heavily reliant on the culture of the organization.

But will the culture of the industry allow for 100% cloud? For Daniel Springall, Regional Director SP/KA UK, Ireland and Benelux at ZyXEL, we’re not there yet and the acceptance may depend on the progress made in other areas of the industry.

Life cycle of common birdwing butterfly“In the near future, yes,” said Springall. “At present we have to carry around laptops and other devices that have internal memory. We also have a natural sense to protect ourselves, our data and our security, so it’ll take some time for some of us to move 100% into the cloud.

“However, it depends what devices we’ll be using in five, ten, fifteen years’ time to access our data. If the Internet of Things and wearable device trends continue to grow, then the use of cloud will be paramount.”

All in all, the journey is only part completed, but should the destination be 100% cloud? And is it a desirable proposition?

“Some cultures cling to their hardware like barnacles to whales, unwilling to lose control of their physical systems,” said Lilac Schoenbeck, VP of Marketing at Iland. “But, even those have, over time, accepted the role of virtualization in their environments.

“So, perhaps they are just on the slower path to cloud adoption. But, the vast majority of companies are more boldly embracing the cloud for the many or most of the workloads.  For them, the question is one of conquering the last few workloads that are tied to physical infrastructure, either because they are too antiquated to be virtualized or bound by arcane licensing requirements.

“For most companies, then, the desire for 100% cloud is very real – but it is the reality of their systems that is the biggest barrier. For them, off-premise options like co-location and bare metal hosting, alongside their clouds, may serve as a good intermediate option.”

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One comment

  1. nmackinney 19/07/2016 @ 2:41 pm

    This is a good read, presenting a balanced, thoughtful review of cloud’s adoption in light of regulation, security concerns and people’s varying degrees of comfort with cloud and what drives that variability. This particularly rung true: ““The reality is that generally the root problems come down to people and process, regardless of whether a cloud infrastructure has been used or not. It remains to be seen which of these aspects will be more of an influence on culture.” Thank you for the analysis.

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