It’s readily available. It’s increasingly secure (as multiple security agencies and organizations have certified both Amazon and Microsoft’s cloud platforms with multiple levels of security credentials that are higher than most organizations are able to justify completing internally). It’s cost effective, scalable, elastic, and much more than meets the eye.
It’s cloud computing, and it’s becoming ubiquitous.
The outlook for cloud computing in 2017 and beyond is bright. With expanding technology that benefits both users and providers, virtually all businesses and individuals in the IT industry will adopt cloud computing, if they haven’t already.
Cloud computing technologies are broad and evolving at a rapid rate with multiple releases and updates on various platforms. Essentially, this means that no individual will have all the answers when it comes to cloud computing, and it’s difficult to predict the state of cloud computing for next year let alone in five or ten years.
However, by looking at current and past trends, it’s possible to get a good idea of the direction cloud computing is headed.
Why Cloud Computing?
In a world where technology seems to be changing or evolving every day, businesses need to be able to keep up with those changes. Some argue that an on-premise compute and storage solution is superior to cloud-based computing because the physical closeness of the data is faster and easier to access. However, with developing cloud technologies, many others believe that cloud computing is, and will continue to be, more effective than premise-based solutions because it offers flexibility, elasticity, and allows access to data and programs anywhere there is network connectivity.
Why is the cloud taking over? One of the biggest reasons is that it moves network infrastructure from a “capital expense” on a balance sheet to an “operating expense” that gets treated like other business expenses on an income statement. It makes capital planning easier and businesses don’t have to deal with depreciation and upkeep of network servers and equipment. It also allows the business to expand and contract their network infrastructure as needed, providing on-demand elasticity and financial flexibility that has never been available to business managers before.
The Hybrid Cloud, the Public Cloud, & the Private Cloud
While there are many benefits to migrating to the cloud, a migration plan can be wrought with myriad challenges and hurdles. Security concerns, hard-to-change business cultures, and legacy systems can make moving workloads to the cloud a truly daunting task. However, the industry has adapted by offering three cloud migration architectures and three complementary migration models that cater to the unique needs of today’s business enterprises. These three cloud architectures will be molding the world of cloud services in the years to come:
- The public cloud is a collection of hardware, networking, storage, services, applications, and interfaces that is owned and operated by a third party. Public clouds can be easily optimized for a growing customer base and are better at managing large, straightforward workloads.
- The private cloud is a collection of hardware, networking, storage, services, applications and interfaces that is owned and operated by a sole organization for employees, partners, and customers to use. Because this cloud is exclusive and not open for public use, it’s highly automated and structured around governance, security, and compliance to make the software more manageable.
- The hybrid cloud: the hybrid cloud combines public and private clouds and can be designed for use by a single organization. When using a hybrid cloud, these infrastructures can communicate with each other over an encrypted connection. The hybrid cloud is becoming a very popular model for organizations that want to migrate applications methodically over time.
Cloud Computing Models
There are three fundamental cloud computing models: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.
- IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) IaaS provides the cloud-based infrastructure (computing hardware and storage, operating systems, power and facilities) that customers can migrate their current workloads to from their existing data centers. Customers are still responsible for configuring the operating system as well as the development of software and databases.
- PaaS (Platform as a Service) PaaS provides all of the hardware, operating systems and facilities like an IaaS platform, but adds a layer of middleware, application servers, and powerful design tools that customers can use to build applications and solutions on top of.
- SaaS (Software as a Service) SaaS provides fully developed applications that are ready for use and consumption. Applications like Salesforce, Google Docs, Office 365, and Gotomeeting are all examples of SaaS applications. SaaS makes it possible to “rent” the software and access it from anywhere you have an internet connection.
This graphic illustrates several of the fundamental differences between each model:
To put these models in context, Amazon AWS is often considered a strong IaaS platform. AWS provides an infrastructure that an organization can easily migrate to from an existing data center as long as they are able to do the work of configuring the operating system, setting up storage and databases, and doing the software development themselves. Microsoft Azure, on the other hand, is more of a PaaS platform. Microsoft has developed a lot of applications, middleware, and services within Azure for customers to develop on top of. AWS and Azure are two different models for different customer needs.
You might say that Azure is like buying from IKEA, while AWS is like buying from Home Depot. Either way, you get to assemble the pieces yourself, but the items from IKEA are going to be much more finished than those from Home Depot (which caters more to the do-it-yourselfer).
How These Tools Are Affecting Trends
Thanks to the emergence of the aforementioned technologies, there are also several new trends changing the landscape of the cloud computing industry in 2017.
- More enterprise workloads are expected to make the shift to private cloud technology. Currently, 31% of enterprises use private clouds to run more than 1,000 virtual machines (a VM is a software computer that runs an operating system and applications), whereas just 17% of enterprises say they run more than 1,000 VMs in public clouds, according to the 2016 RightScale State of the Cloud Survey. Because the private cloud makes automation and software management easy, enterprises are able to streamline their workload.
- Last but not least, experts believe that the adoption of hybrid cloud computing has officially hit its stride with no end in sight. When pairing the versatility of the public cloud and the growth potential of the private cloud, a large majority of organizations benefit by adopting a hybrid cloud environment. According to the RightScale survey referenced above, 71% of businesses are using the hybrid cloud in 2016, compared to 58% in 2015.
There are numerous cloud computing services that interconnect, and that is difficult to accomplish. Lightstream’s solutions model makes the interconnectivity of your cloud infrastructure simple. Through a consultative approach, top-notch engineering, and fanatical customer service, a cloud infrastructure for businesses can be designed and maintained that will provide business stability in the cloud for years to come.
To learn more about what to expect from cloud computing in 2017 and to learn how your organization can harness the power of cloud computing, contact us, today!