Are we running to the cloud hills too quickly?

By April 22, 2020

From time to time, we invite industry thought leaders to share their opinions and insights on current technology trends to the IBM Systems IT Infrastructure blog. The opinions in these posts are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of IBM.

With billions gained by cloud technology providers hailing multicloud and hybrid public cloud services as well as native cloud initiatives, are we overlooking some crucial points when discussing technology migrations? Mid to large-cap enterprises have substantial technology that exists either at their on-premises tech estate or housed within any given data center. Infrastructure-wise, there’s a lot to change when talking cloud specifics for said infrastructure, let alone a cloud-first program!

I’m a big advocate of reusing and repurposing data from the outset as this will bring down the multitude of layered services you will be told to purchase to get the most out of your data. But do we need to layer these services around our estate? The answer that will probably be on the tip of your tongue is “It depends.”

A recent Forrester study, in conjunction with IBM, highlights what is on the minds of CTO/CIO’s when making these cloud decisions. Enterprise technology environments have undergone many refreshes over the last few decades and bursting out to hybrid cloud services for the specific line of business applications/services. Our on-premises technology is seen as a management burden, a cost of ownership problem and more often as old technology! Although some of these statements can be viewed as accurate (depending on your standpoint), I would argue the following points:

Digitalization doesn’t necessarily need an external cloud approach; it requires planning and focuses on providing the right solution. If this method is taken, I bet some of you will agree with me when I say “on-premises technology is your first option” before outsourcing some of your critical IT Infrastructure. Most heterogeneous, on-premises technology has evolved to meet the new digital demands with burst out to hybrid services. Static site-based technology has gone through the pain of multiple API services and controls years back now, and we have gotten over the cloud buzz.

The Forrester report findings also sum up current cloud buying trends, highlighting IT enterprise estates not being a “one-size-fits-all solution” and with hybrid cloud adoption being on everyone’s tip of the tongue but not executing… yet.

Platforms such as the IBM Z Systems z Series has had more R&D dollars pumped into them than most tech platforms (billions) and the latest z15 generation reflects those advancements, which is just phenomenal!

The IBM Z series, LinuxONE, or even the now-overused term for this technology–mainframe–are all fantastic pieces of tech and are pretty much a cloud in a box (if you wish to use it that way). I have followed this technology for many years and say unprompted that if I had a choice of multiple vendors delivering services (hybrid cloud models), together with having to wade through endless contracts to ensure all liabilities are covered = I wouldn’t! (who would?). If I can have enterprise technology on premises with some of the best security, speed and resiliency built-in through one provider; I would!

However, it is often the case today that we demand limitless API’s for anything we may need to utilize in the future, and so we opt for the public hybrid cloud highway. But there are so many points to weigh up when considering this option–security, management, agility and scale, speed, access, the list goes on. Why not opt for localized technology that suits your needs with overspill to hybrid cloud vendors?

The IBM Systems platforms not only provide an absolute powerhouse of technology but also have encryption everywhere with speeds that can’t be matched by most conventional mainstream tech. They have built-in hybrid cloud connectors, they encrypt at hardware, software and in transit with the new passport data security options and are fast, very fast!

Supporting 2.4 million Docker containers on a single system and handling 19 billion encrypted web transactions per day without breaking a sweat are two examples that come to mind.

This technology may not apply to some of you, but my point is this. Don’t automatically jump to grab off-premises services using cloud initiatives. Take a look around and take what works for you. Cloud technology will only get more evolved as we progress with more interconnectivity for bespoke services, but they will also become more diverse and complicated to maintain/support.

I have always said that technical revolutions come around every ten years or so, which is also valid in the business world. We see this explosion of services and IT buzzwords that provides too many vendors for each new trend, and then we see a consolidation of them over 5-6 years. We are going through this right now, and if you don’t believe me check out some of the new options that the other prominent tech vendors are offering–on-premises replication from a hybrid cloud service!

To see more fascinating statistics like this that demonstrate who is doing what in the enterprise tech space, download the latest Forrester Study: The Key to Enterprise Hybrid Multicloud Strategy report, and you will be surprised at the results.