So why is cloud connectivity key to Cloud computing? The promise of cloud computing has been a long time coming. Adopted and promoted early on at a consumer level with services such a photo-sharing web service (Flickr), it quickly evolved into the concept of file sharing, (Dropbox), shared collaborative spaces (Slack), online resources (Google Drive), Software as a Service solutions (Microsoft Office 365) and a host of task-specific applications aimed at delivering instant access to resources as and when required.
The Promise of Cloud
The vision of cloud computing can be traced as far back as the 1950s but it was Oracle’s Larry Ellison who can claim some of the glory when the company showcased a Network PC, essentially a dumb terminal (now called a thin client), which got its smarts from connecting across the early internet to a dedicated online resource. That was at Comdex in 1996.
Fast forward to today, we now have a vast array of specialist cloud services aimed at providing solutions to all levels of the business community. Yet the vision of a thin client championed by Oracle and others failed to materialise, although some could reasonably argue that Google’s Chromebook is the closest to the original vision.
Connectivity Makes Cloud Possible
As businesses develop their cloud models, they are increasingly understanding the criticality of their connectivity requirements, with the cloud only being as good as your ability to get to it reliably. Businesses are now recognising that being “cloud ready” really means having access to a secure, fast and reliable network connection to allow people to connect to and consume cloud services effectively.
And while one assumes that the Internet is the leading method to connect to the cloud, the challenge faced by larger enterprises when it comes to cloud computing is that they have concerns with network performance and security for cloud services delivered via the Internet – especially for mission critical services.
In an Irish context, Ethernet services, have emerged as a strategic choice for enterprises wishing to adopt cloud services. Given the high data speeds available, as well as the dedicated and scalable nature of the bandwidth, it seems like an obvious choice. However, once connectivity is secure, fast and reliable, businesses naturally choose a connectivity option that is tailored to their needs and this may include MPLS or Direct Internet Access.
Cloud First To Cloud Only
Once enterprises are cloud ready, the challenge now comes down to how the two ends of the digital supply chain can be serviced reliably and consistently to meet the ever-more demanding requirements of clients.
This space is dominated by a handful of big-name companies providing cloud-based Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions. According to Gartner, the big beast is Amazon Web Services with almost half the global IaaS market and generating an estimated $15.5 billion in sales in 2018.
But this is only part of the story. A handful, just five, IaaS vendors soaked up an estimated 77% of this rapidly growing market by 2018. These are:
- Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Microsoft Azure
- Alibaba Cloud
- IBM [source]
But this rapid growth in cloud services has far wider implications. According to Louis Columbus at Forbes, by the end of 2019, … “more than 30% of technology providers’ new software investments will shift from cloud-first to cloud-only, further reducing license-based software spending and increasing subscription-based cloud revenue.” [source]
Why Is Cloud Growing?
In early 2019 Bloomberg reported that industry analysts believe businesses are only in the early years of an on-going transition in how they purchase technology and reduce reliance on private data centres and servers. “Instead, many are opting to power their operations using software rented from cloud-computing giants, turning previously consumer-focused companies like Amazon and Google into bellwethers of business technology use.”
And this is set to continue at pace as companies seek to find the efficiencies that can be enjoyed by effectively outsourcing more and more elements which once used to be the responsibility of in-house IT teams. In a globalised economy where major vendors have already created a powerful worldwide network of server farms, what would it cost a company to duplicate that effort?
Building and maintaining banks of servers, managing effective peering to optimise network performance, and ensuring 100% uptime on a global scale. Unless this happens to be the organisation’s core competency, it seems that more and more companies of all sizes are recognising that the efficiencies of scale which dedicated IaaS vendors provide makes a compelling argument for moving some, if not all of the services once the domain of IT departments, to third party vendors.
As a survey of 300 influential players in the cloud space found, “83% of Enterprise workloads will be in the Cloud by 2020”.
It seems hard to believe just how far and how fast this transformation has taken hold of companies across the board and it looks like this will only continue for many years to come but with all the emphasis on “Cloud”, our advice is don’t forget about the “Connectivity” element.