For most organisations the question is no longer whether it is appropriate to adopt cloud, but when is the right time and what services to move.
Meanwhile, early adopters should be reviewing their portfolio to ensure they are getting best value and optimum service, as cloud providers are constantly developing and updating their offerings. These are the key cloud trends to look out for in 2017.
1. Enterprise cloud
At the moment, the term’ enterprise cloud’ is generally taken to mean virtualised in-house environments with an element of user self-service and reporting. Hyperconvergence is often described as enterprise cloud.
However, ‘true’ enterprise cloud should be a common suite of design, provisioning, management and reporting tools controlling hybrid clouds that allow each service to be hosted and controlled on the most appropriate platform. That’s irrespective of whether these are public, private, hybrid, community, hosted or any combination.
New developments such as Azure Stack, the recent VMware and AWS tie-up, and the increasing maturity of Openstack and its community ecosystem will start to deliver this in 2017.
We can expect increasing hype around hyperconvergence in 2017, but complete solutions are still some distance away. Hyperconverged systems are useful building blocks to create base cloud infrastructure, but at the moment they are basically standard platforms for supporting virtualisation, and there is a big gap between what they offer as standard and what organisations need from cloud. They provide the first 20% of the necessary integration, but users will still need to do the remaining 80% themselves.
3. Cloud architecture
Architecting systems for cloud, or working out the optimal method for migrating existing services to cloud, demands different skills from core IT infrastructure design.
With public cloud services, organisations no longer have the ability to uniquely configure each element to their application or service, but have a standard set of building blocks that need to be integrated and cannot normally be changed.
It’s the difference between cooking for yourself from raw ingredients and ordering in a restaurant where the chef has set the menu and you choose the meal, associated ambience and service quality to suit your budget.
Expect to see organisations increasingly developing these architecture skills to achieve successful migrations.
4. Hybrid cloud management – the cloud service broker
To make hybrid cloud work, organisations need an audit function to ensure that the service is and remains fit for purpose, and independent service monitoring and management either in-house or contracted through an independent third party to ensure the provider actually provides what they are contracted to.
This is leading to the development of a new role: the cloud service broker, who will both define the services and then determine the most appropriate way to provide, manage and secure them.
Analyst firm 451 Research has highlighted this as a key trend in 2017. CIOs could allocate the role of cloud service broker to a member of their IT team or a third party can provide this service.
5. Managing multiple cloud providers
As organisations increasingly use multiple cloud providers, we are seeing the introduction of cloud management services that provide service integration, management and monitoring for all cloud services contracted by an organisation.
They offer major incident and problem management, with escalation to third parties if required, and may also include asset management of devices and infrastructure.
Simplistically cloud management is ‘lightweight’ SIAM (service integration and management), with the controls, processes and principles of the discipline but without the hefty price tag and long-term contractual commitments ‘full’ SIAM has historically involved.
6. Cloud monitoring as a service
As use of hybrid cloud grows, more organisations are turning to cloud monitoring as a service (CMaaS) to monitor performance across the multiple suppliers that will now be interdependent, and critical, to an organisation’s IT service delivery.
It is vital that these services are independent of the providers themselves but that providers either provide visibility into their service or organisations can contractually ensure that they do.
CMaaS provides integration with public cloud services (e.g. Office 365, Salesforce, Huddle, Google Apps), as well as IaaS and PaaS services (e.g. Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google’s App Engine).
Some services can now do this from a single pane of glass. It can also be used to monitor in-house environments and hosted and private cloud services by deploying or installing gateways into the monitored environment.
7. Moving services between different providers
At present, not many people are dynamically moving workloads between cloud providers, but we expect to see this become more common as users become more familiar with the benefits of cloud and compare the offerings of different providers.
Providers may then respond with competitive pricing, such as we see in the utility sector. Organisations therefore need to design their cloud services with the flexibility to adopt different platforms or alternative cloud suppliers quickly and with minimum impact to existing services, or risk swapping one legacy infrastructure for another.
8. Open source
Most major cloud providers use open source for their services, and for even medium sized organisations it now provides high quality tools to that can host, manage and integrate providers with a committed, if slightly disorganised support network. For those not ready to fully commit, most tools are available for the cost of a standard Linux distribution.
>See also: 6 drivers for moving business to the cloud
9. Securing and auditing services
Moving data to the cloud does not negate the need for an organisation to take proper data security precautions. This means taking responsibility for asking the service provider to deliver the appropriate levels of information security and measuring and auditing the supplier to ensure that the relevant security is applied.
Organisations will become much more sophisticated in the way they evaluate potential cloud suppliers, seeking out independent verification of their capabilities and looking more closely at their governance and data security policies. This will become ever more important in the light of the forthcoming GDPR regulations, and a written definition of all the data security policies and procedures will be required by the regulator when they conduct an audit.
10. New cloud services to address specific issues
As cloud grows in capability and scale, we can expect to see an increasing number of new applications, whose scope is limited only by the ingenuity and vision of cloud service providers. While some will be targeted at niche markets, others will address common problems.
One of the fastest growing services is likely to be patch management, which removes the administrative overhead of ensuring IT systems remain compliant and secure and can quickly address zero day vulnerabilities across both public cloud and on-premise equipment.
Other services beginning to gain traction include identity management as a service, already in use by a major government agency among others, and endpoint data protection and compliance, which provides backup, restoration, compliance and legal hold across all user devices and encrypted data storage on public cloud.
Sourced from Richard Blanford, managing director, Fordway