A forecast of clouds
If the latest IDC FutureScape study – Worldwide Enterprise Infrastructure 2018 Predictions – was about the weather instead of IT trends, without doubt the forecast would be for increasing clouds.
Of the ten predictions made in the FutureScape study, nearly half relate to public and private cloud in some way. For example, Prediction #5 says that spending on hybrid cloud should total more than $60 billion in 2021. In Prediction #10, IDC sees that in just a few years spending on infrastructure-as-a-service – essentially cloud-based IT – will outpace spending on traditional on-premises compute, networks and storage. And Predictions #7 and #9 describe how compliance with new regulations will drive greater multi-cloud maturity while use of container instances should proliferate across distributed locations.
Why is the future of IT in the clouds? IDC notes that not only to remain competitive but to outperform their industry peers, 21st century enterprises are pursuing three imperatives: “…modernizing the IT foundation, enabling new products and services, and developing future-looking, data-driven organizations.”1
To achieve these imperatives, IBM research confirms that three-quarters of enterprises have already adopted cloud capabilities to some degree.
Enterprises may move inactive data into public cloud storage in order to lower costs, perhaps even by utilizing more than one cloud provider. At the same time, they may be building cloud features and capabilities into their on-premises data center(s) so that they can maintain control and ownership of valuable data and still provide cloud-like services to internal customers and business lines. This is private cloud. And certainly, enterprises are still running applications supported by traditional IT infrastructure that they have invested in and refreshed for years.
IBM customers should be well-positioned to take advantage of an IT future filled with multiple clouds. IBM already offers both on-premises and software-defined storage (SDS) solutions engineered to enable hybrid cloud or what IBM now refers to as “multi-cloud” architectures.
The IBM FlashSystem A9000 all-flash array and its rack-based FlashSystem A9000R sibling provide excellent examples. They are built for the cloud, with their IBM Spectrum Accelerate enterprise-grade software stack and grid architecture. Thanks to a spectrum of storage services, both platforms can be tailored to address a wide range of business use cases, including virtual desktops, hybrid cloud and mixed workloads.
On the SDS side, IBM offers transparent cloud tiering, essentially a software-defined enterprise cloud bridge that makes it possible for IBM Spectrum Scale SDS solutions to natively support public and private cloud storage. Spectrum Scale transparent cloud tiering provides intelligent data mobility between storage tiers, including off-premises cloud resources, while addressing enterprise concerns regarding security, resilience and vendor lock-in. Spectrum Scale with transparent cloud tiering can be combined with IBM Spectrum Cloud Object Storage to provide nearly unlimited options for implementing comprehensive, unified, multi-cloud storage infrastructure for innovative business solutions.
IBM Spectrum Virtualize spans both traditional systems and SDS. This member of the market-leading IBM Spectrum Storage family has been helping enterprises improve infrastructure flexibility and data economics for 14 years.  IBM continues to introduce innovations into this mature, proven SDS platform such as IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud that assists with real-time disaster recovery and data replication and migration between on-premises storage and public cloud resources. Enterprises with IBM Storwize family, FlashSystem V9000, and VersaStack converged infrastructure solutions – plus any of the more than 400 systems virtualized by Spectrum Virtualize – can take advantage of this capability.
For IBM customers, hearing that the IT forecast calls for plenty of clouds shouldn’t cause concern. Within the IBM community, the preparations for this “future scape” have been ongoing for years.
 IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Enterprise Infrastructure 2018 Predictions, October 2017, IDC #US43137417
 Growing up hybrid: Accelerating digital transformation, IBM Center for Applied Insights, 2016
 “IBM Ranked # 1 in Worldwide Software-Defined Storage Software Market,” IBM, April 2017. http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/ pressrelease/52189.wss