A recent article in the FT by Richard Waters: ‘Google Bets on the Cloud Breaking Up,’ got me thinking about the machinations of the big-brand Cloud hyper-scalers and the relevance of their business model strategies on day-to-day Cloud users, and making Cloud work despite them.
In his article, the author refers to: ‘two of the most important trends shaping the future of Cloud computing — and, by extension, much of the IT world.’
Multi-Cloud – Avoiding Vendor Lock-in
At Flexiion MSP, we talk to our customers and Cloud end users, in general, on a regular basis and can confirm that multi-Cloud is now a common approach. Fewer and fewer organisations remain comfortable relying solely on one big-brand hyper-scaler for all their Cloud requirements. Not only do they want to avoid vendor lock-in, but they want to protect their freedom of choice and get the best Cloud solutions regardless of where they come from.
Edge Computing and 5G
Distributed Cloud or ‘edge computing’ is interesting and we’ve written about the subject and the influence of 5G in our 2017 blog: ‘5G is Not Just the Next G and Faster.’ In that blog, Peter Osborn asked: ‘So what does this mean today? Well, it depends what you’re doing, investing in and planning. If you’re just a smartphone user then it doesn’t mean much for now. If you’re using networks to connect to devices, your future and 5G are probably going to be intertwined.
In our 2019 blog: ‘5G – Unlocking The Data Opportunity,’ we asked: ‘The debate about 5G is now mainstream, and although the discussion often focuses on the technology, the associated issue of importance is data, and how we’ll use it to transform our world.’
So clearly things have moved on and 5G is now beginning to be rolled out and services delivered, which is, no doubt, exercising the planners at the big Cloud providers, like Google, because it’s changing where compute and store is located, bringing much more of it closer to the user, which clearly puts pressure on their existing business model of large, remote data centres.
Yes, edge Computing and the practical, wider implementation of 5G services will become more important for organisations of all types and sizes, but we see the management of Cloud complexity as a more current business priority.
Cloud Complexity – Today’s Business Challenge
Today’s Cloud complexity challenges include managing multiple public-Cloud set ups, aligned with a mix of private Cloud and on-prem infrastructure (hybrid-Cloud), and the movement of data between them all. Putting data in is often very straightforward and sometimes free, but it’s seldom as easy to move your data out of a Cloud vendor and it’s rarely free. Geographical requirements also present practical challenges as end-users look to optimise their Cloud infrastructure in those countries where their data resides. And Data Regulation is a complexity we all have to deal with.
And although the article by Richard Waters in the FT focuses on the business plans of Google and its big-brand Cloud competitors, it’s these very business plans and the inherent conflict of interest at work in Public Cloud, which many of our customers are most interested in negating, i.e.:
Flexibility is the Key
Relying simply on the big-brand Cloud vendors to solve all your problems is an understandably attractive proposition, but it’s a strategy that can place real pressure on Cloud costs, support, skills and freedom to choose and do.
The large availability and variable costs charged by the big Cloud providers works well for handling unpredictable demand and unexpected spikes in requirement, but it’s often uneconomic for steady usage and fixed requirements. Opaque pricing structures can make it difficult to plan public-Cloud usage and even harder to manage as your tech and development teams fire up pubic-Cloud instances at will.
Support is not a constant, it changes as the tech changes and as the service it enables evolves. For example, the online, arms-length support that the big-brand Cloud suppliers commonly provide may be fine during the build and testing phase of a new customer services. But when that service goes live and real customers depend on it, perhaps, a more business-grade level of support is required; support with the routine monitoring and management techniques and processes that keep everything in top condition and identify and fix issues swiftly when they happen.
Good people are hard to find and keep, so even larger organisations can struggle to build the in-house teams they need to manage today’s Cloud complexity. People with the expertise and understanding that are specific to the business are the most valuable, and are central to the ambitions of the firm. These are people who must be deployed carefully and wisely on the things that only they can do. These knowledgeable experts are just too valuable to be distracted by routine, day-to-day Cloud management.
A Pragmatic Cloud Approach
So in response to Richard’s article in the FT, Google’s attempts to secure a bigger share of the Cloud market is interesting, but I don’t believe it’s the thing that’s keeping our Cloud customers awake at night.
More important is the implementation of a pragmatic approach to the requirements of the business, one that recognises that Cloud solutions that really do support an organisation’s business objectives, require a different business-driven style from tech development. A ‘hybrid’ approach that blends services, support and skills is likely to deliver superior business outcomes while still satisfying the needs of the technology.
Relying on the big-brand Cloud suppliers for everything is problematical. Similarly, building larger and larger in-house teams to solve these problems undermines the basic operational benefit of Cloud, so more businesses are now looking for a Cloud partner that can help remove complexity and streamline operations, and help them stay efficient and effective, competitive and productive.
Flexiion MSP is one of the new independent Cloud Solutions specialists that concentrate on delivering effective Cloud operations for tech enabled firms eager to achieve their ambitions, whatever the kind of Cloud that requires.
Simon Lofthouse, CMO, Flexiion MSP
Please note all comments need to be approved before appearing on the page. Please respect others when posting.