The Fluff-Free, Research-Driven Cloud

Adnan Raja
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This report will review five cloud predictions made earlier this year by IBM’s Gery Menegaz, as follows:

  • Setting aside the fluff
  • Prediction #1: Better software access
  • Prediction #2: Astronomical expansion
  • Prediction #3: Continuing shift to hybrid models
  • Prediction #4: Stronger development focus
  • Prediction #5: Disruptive levels of innovation
  • The research-driven cloud.

Setting aside the fluff

“Cloud gone wrong”: that’s how Chris Magiet of tech tutorial site Pluralsight described the bogus, misleading, or otherwise perplexing descriptions of cloud computing used by marketers. Chris argues convincingly that it’s often better to think of distributed virtual technology in terms of the particular purpose it serves – using the terms IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS (infrastructure, platform, and software-as-a-service) rather than the grandiose, overarching term cloud.

It does seem a bit extreme that we should feel we need to always designate the branch of cloud, though. For instance, the third platform of computing follows the mainframe (first) and PCs (second) with its four core technologies: mobile access, social networking, big data analytics, and the cloud. It would be preposterous to have to list six core technologies instead so that you can mention the three general services rather than cloud itself.

Regardless, Chris’s point is valid that the fluffy white image has been used to create hype for a technology that would otherwise be more challenging to visualize and sell. How, then, do we best see through the hype to understand its legitimate business trends? That’s the subject of a report written earlier this year by Gery Menegaz, a chief architect for IBM: centering in on the true direction of the cloud.

Prediction #1: Better software access

Gery notes that the majority of applications currently being introduced are designed for cloud distribution. Since so much new software is built specifically for virtual environments, he specifically forecasts that by 2016, consumers and businesses will be able to use one in four applications (25%, which amounts to almost 50 million) through the cloud.

General interest in the cloud among large businesses further bolsters Gery’s perspective:

  • 56% of large companies believe the technology creates a competitive advantage.
  • 58% of large companies designate over one-tenth of their yearly expenses toward the technology.

Prediction #2: Astronomical expansion

The cloud is on the rise worldwide, per Gartner. A published technology outlook by the research firm forecasts that the market will reach a quarter of $1 trillion within three years. Gery notes that the behaviors of large firms around the world are evidence of the technology’s increasing dominance: “Enterprises [are] increasingly relying on cloud to develop, market and sell products, manage supply chains, and more.”

The same Gartner report looks specifically at the explosion of SaaS offerings (as mentioned above): that industry will expand at 20% each year, from $18 billion to $46 billion between 2012 and 2017.

Prediction #3: Continuing shift to hybrid models

According to Gartner, fully half of large businesses are going to deploy hybrid clouds within three years. As cloud generally becomes more popular, CIOs are developing plans that feature the technology. Nonetheless, 100% cloud adoption is rare.

As Gery describes comprehensive cloud migration, “It would be very difficult if at all possible, to move everything wholesale to the cloud because of the complexity of today’s environments.” Hybrid clouds are integrated systems that include more than one cloud infrastructure, often including in-house dedicated servers and public Cloud Servers.

Note that although extreme infrastructural transitions to public cloud are uncommon, an announcement from General Electric that the company will be closing down its data centers in favor of third-party virtualization may prompt other enterprises to consider a similar strategy.

Prediction #4: Stronger development focus

Out of the 18 million application developers on the planet, fewer than one in four are building for SaaS environments, per Evans Data. Gery suggests, just using common sense based on the growth figures, that developers will increasingly turn toward the world of hyper-efficient virtual machines. In fact, 17 out of every 20 new apps are cloud-based, per IDC.

Prediction #5: Disruptive levels of innovation

To make this point, Gery references the Geoffrey Moore book Crossing the Chasm as a flawed counterpoint. Moore believes that once a company introduces a revolutionary solution, the firm immediately becomes less innovative because it has its hands full guiding customers through adoption. The title of the book is a nod to Moore’s thesis that businesses must emulate their competition if they want to become mainstream.

Again, Gery sees Moore’s ideas as inapplicable to the context of the cloud. He believes the almost cutthroat competition, is in fact leading, to more innovation: “In fact, the pace at which organizations are innovating appears to have sped up – at least from my perspective.”

The research-driven cloud

A concept you sometimes hear in business, particularly in architecture and interior design, is the notion of “research-driven” solutions, the notion that a company’s offerings are neither oversimplistic nor superficial, but rather are fundamentally based on cutting-edge knowledge and expertise.

That’s true of our solutions at Atlantic.Net, which are based on 20 years of development and refinement. Get started now, in 30 seconds, with our research-driven Cloud Hosting.

By Moazzam Adnan


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