The great cloud dispora

Lori MacVittie, F5 Networks

It has been 10 years since Amazon set the digital world on fire with the introduction of Amazon Web Services, or as most of us today call it, public cloud. Since then, the landscape has grown increasingly cloudy, with a variety of new models merging with old models merging with data centres to give us plenty of choices today, all falling under the incredibly broad umbrella of cloud.

As soon as cloud became the go-to buzzword, application service providers rebranded themselves as cloud under the banner of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Businesses have long struggled with the decision to build or buy, and SaaS gave them a third option, rent. While pundits declared cloud in general an undeniable success, the reality was that SaaS was propping up the entire market for years as organisations shifted from buying software to renting it from the same vendors who shifted their own business models to accommodate this change.

As the drivers for adoption shifted from a focus on cost savings to gains in agility and speed, organisations increasingly looked to private cloud (on premise) as a means to enjoy speed and agility without compromising on their specific requirements that precluded a move to public cloud.

The emergence of another hybrid technology, often referred to as ‘colo cloud’ experienced phenomenal growth due its innate ability to sate organisations’ need for security and control (on the colocation side) along with the flexibility and cost-savings of public cloud (the interconnect side). Addressing needs for security, control, and it turns out, performance, colo cloud will no doubt continue to see gains in adoption over the next couple of years.

That pretty much brings us to today, with multiple cloud formations on the enterprise buffet from which organisations can pick and choose, and mix and match. Cloud is no longer a single operating model whose archetype is Amazon’s EC2. It has morphed and expanded into a variety of models that all share the same core concepts of abstraction, automation, orchestration, and utility computing. Each one has arisen out of specific needs that were not met by the other models, and each one is a legitimate form of cloud that is strategic in its own right.

As will be whatever comes next, because if the last 10 years have proven anything, it’s that a good idea cannot be contained by a single model, and that as challenges arise, new forms will evolve to address them. Diaspora happens, and in the case of cloud, that’s been a good thing because choices mean freedom for organisations to embrace digital transformation in ways that don’t require them to compromise on core requirements, whether those be security or performance, control or costs.

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