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The Multi-Cloud Future of Enterprise IT

“And off to the cloud it goes…”

I’m quoting Siri here—her response after sending a text for me (she’s gotten sassier after a recent iOS upgrade). Whether Siri realizes or not, this statement summarizes the current cloud adoption trend in the enterprise: everything, to some degree, is moving to the cloud.

Cloud computing plans are moving off the whiteboards and to-do lists of many corporate IT teams and into their production environments, powering new revenue-driving infrastructure and business apps. Anecdotes of this trend abound, but several recent studies on cloud and multi-cloud adoption trends provide hard data confirming “off to the cloud IT goes” will be the thing in 2015.

Market research firm IDC says 67% of enterprises (firms with 1000 employees or more) said they expect to utilize two or more major cloud service providers (CSPs). Additionally, 65% of these firms said they would also do business with smaller cloud providers with innovative offerings. These stats point to a clear multi-cloud future for most large organizations, with firms managing a mix of large and smaller cloud service providers. The challenge will come in managing and weaving together these heterogeneous environments.

To that end, enter the role of the cloud service broker, which provide consolidated procurement, provisioning, management, and billing of cloud services across multiple CSPs. Gartner forecasts the market for CSBs to hit $141B (B stands for billion!) by 2017, growing at over 34% over that time.

multicloud

In a third study, conducted research house Dimensional Research with data center service provider Equinix, 77% of IT pros in North America said they already are, or will be, multi-cloud shops in the next 12 months. Among these companies, 41% are already using multiple clouds, with 38% saying they will go multi-cloud in 2015. Additionally, 58% said they planned to use CSPs operating in more than one country.

To be certain, not every enterprise app and data bit will move fully to the cloud. To quote yet another study—this one by North Bridge Venture Partners and GigaOM Research—many of these deployments will be hybrid in nature. This means portions of enterprise IT operations will reside in public CSP centers, with some data and apps remaining on-premise, but connected to these external resources. North Bridge/GigaOM say that more than half of enterprises will take this approach.

So looking at the big picture of enterprise cloud adoption, architectures will soon be multi-vendor, multi-national, and a mix of workloads running in public and hybrid environments. These are all lofty plans. But an underlying, and sometimes overlooked, issue regarding cloud migration and planning is the Internet’s role in connecting all these public/hybrid environments.

This is the next major challenge for many cloud adopters: how to make the Internet—a publically-shared resource, owned by no individual user—as resilient and reliable as the private LAN and WAN connections enterprises’ apps ran on in the past. Referring back to the North Bridge study, enterprises are already becoming aware of this; concerns about unexpected costs in moving to the cloud rose three-fold compared to last year. Some of these concerns are associated with the cost to optimize workloads for cloud environments, and others involved the requirement of additional services—such as traffic management, monitoring, and optimization—needed to make a cloud deployment functional and efficient.

From Dyn’s perspective, some large organizations avoid such costs by building services such as traffic management, load balancing, optimization, and monitoring into their cloud architectures from the start. Others come to the realization after the fact, when services from multiple CSPs are deployed, but interconnectivity and latency become a problem. However it plays out, the more complex and heterogeneous these cloud deployments become, the more critical it will be to have the cloud “connective tissue” types of services Dyn provides to monitor, control and optimize their online infrastructures.


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Whois: Phil Hochmuth

Phil Hochmuth is the Head of Market Intelligence for Dyn, the world leader in Internet Performance Solutions that delivers traffic management, message management, and performance assurance. Follow on Twitter: @phochmuth and @Dyn.