This post is authored by Julia White, CVP Azure & Security, Microsoft
Over the last few years, “cloud” has been one of the most used words in tech, and 2016 is no exception – for good reason. Nearly three-fourths (70 percent) of IT professionals report their organizations use public cloud solutions, and nine in 10 (92 percent) say their companies have services that should be running in the public cloud, but aren’t currently (source: IT Pro Cloud Survey). As organizations embrace the cloud globally, we’ve seen digital transformation of entire industries powered by the cloud – from automotive builders creating connected cars to new retail customers leveraging cloud-based data and advanced analytics to personally tailor customer experiences.
Public cloud is not just past the tipping point, it’s now mainstream. Yet, in talking to customers, a few common misconceptions about the cloud persist. As we head toward the new year, I believe it’s important to surface and dispel some of the top cloud myths we’ve seen to address the concerns business and IT decision makers have when it comes to the cloud.
Myth No. 1: Enterprises need only one cloud vendor
Enterprises have diverse needs when it comes to cloud apps, data analytics, development, management, and security. Belief that one cloud can meet all these diverse needs is simply out of touch with reality. While it is easy to believe this for SaaS technology across productivity and business applications, it is just as true for IaaS and PaaS cloud technology. Different business groups have different needs and often turn to two or sometimes three cloud providers to take advantage of differentiated capabilities. Multi-cloud management solutions, as well as open development tools and platforms, are proof that we have moved beyond the period of concerns around vendor lock-in and are instead addressing the needs of IT and developers to manage updates and monitor security across multiple clouds and develop on the platform and with the tools they prefer.
Myth No. 2: Cloud security is riskier than on-premises
Fundamentally, maintaining cybersecurity is about staying multiple steps ahead of the hackers. A public cloud provider has the investment resources to deploy and maintain state-of-the-art security technology, and employ the world’s leaders in cybersecurity. Additionally, with massive cloud scale and broad geographical presence comes the ability to detect emerging threats quickly and address issues before they gain traction. Beyond security, ensuring compliance with global, local, and industry regulation is a significant burden to individual companies. When organizations turn to a global cloud provider, they are inheriting the compliance certifications and standards work already put in place for organizations around the globe. Across both security and compliance, global public cloud providers are able to invest massive amounts of resources that exceeds what any one individual organization can realistically deploy. Not all cloud vendors deploy resources equally, however, so it is still important to understand and complete due-diligence on security and compliance standards of any public cloud provider you are considering.
Myth No 3: The main benefit of public cloud is efficiency, more than innovation
Utilizing public cloud infrastructure (IaaS) enables cost reduction and more rapid app deployment with the ability to instantly tap into essentially unlimited infrastructure capacity. It is easy to view the economy of scale benefits as the central cloud benefit. Because IaaS continues to carry forward some of the traditional IT overhead of infrastructure management and security, it can limit speed of innovation. Platform services enable developers to focus entirely on application development rather than infrastructure management and maintenance. Fully unlocking the cloud promise means using a combination of cloud infrastructure and platform services – often times in concert. Using IaaS is a great first step in cloud adoption, but also taking advantage of the managed services and serverless compute technologies enable greater innovation as well as developer and IT productivity. Services such as machine learning, cognitive services, IoT, mobile app development, microservices, and event-driven functions are fueling incredible new innovation and business transformation.
Myth No. 4: Hybrid cloud is the connection of public and private clouds
For most companies, hybrid cloud is a reality, and it’s here to stay versus just being a transitory state. Recognizing that hybrid is a steady state, not a transition state, is why hybrid cannot just be a network connection between public and private clouds, but a consistent end user, IT management & security, and app development experience across public and private clouds. Hybrid consistency goes beyond network connectivity and the ability to “lift and shift” virtual machines, but truly providing the IT professional, developer, and end user experiences that don’t change based on the location of the app or resource. Consistency across a hybrid cloud environment enables uniform development, unified dev-ops and management, common identity and security, and seamless extension of existing applications and infrastructure to the cloud. Without this consistency, hybrid cloud just means dealing with two different environments for the long term.
Myth No. 5: Public cloud leads to vendor lock-in
Cloud infrastructure and app development capabilities generally support all platforms and development languages. Historically, developers have been bound by the languages they code in for specific platforms. With more cloud vendors broadly supporting open-source and also frequently open-sourcing their technology it’s making it easier to build for any cloud, language, and OS. As such, developers are getting closer to the state developing in the language they want and deployment on any platform. Further, container technology supported by cloud providers enables app portability.
Myth No. 6: Open cloud development is a risk to innovation and intellectual property
One of the great benefits of the cloud is providing an environment to test ideas quickly. As more organizations embrace agile development in the cloud, they need to feel empowered to choose the right tools and code to do the job. Increasingly, that code is coming from the open source community. Nine in 10 (91 percent) of IT workers state that for them to be satisfied at work, it is important that they work for an organization that allows them to use open source technologies (source: IT Pro Cloud Survey). Open-sourcing select projects is just one step toward earning the trust and respect of developers and their customers. Cloud providers need to embrace open source as a key component of their own development cycles as well as their customers’ technology infrastructure. This means looking for technologies that can be developed and maintained in partnership with the open source community. Vendors should be openly developing and collaborating with the open source community, while also offering regular contributions to community projects. They should also be actively participating in GitHub projects, helping to set standards with organizations such as The Linux Foundation, and engaging with the community on forums.
Looking Ahead to 2017
As we look ahead to the coming year, we can expect to see more advanced, intelligent cloud technology enter the commercial realm – from bots to genomics and AI applications. The future of cloud will be written by the cloud vendors who demonstrate they are truly global, trusted, hybrid platforms with open development tools and cutting edge platform services.