An emerging strategic imperative for IT leaders
The use of public cloud services is now well accepted in the enterprise mainstream, to the point where many organisations have workloads and data spread across a number of different provider environments. But activity has too often become very fragmented, leading to inconsistencies in areas such as security and access, information management, and the experience provided to both users and developers. Add cloud-native applications running on-premises into the mix, along with the rise of edge computing, and things are set to become even more challenging. Enter the distributed cloud model.
Cloud activity is evolving, extending and becoming more distributed
A recent survey of 51 senior IT professionals from the CIO Watercooler community confirmed broad commitment to the public cloud. The study also told us that cloud-native application architectures and modern software delivery approaches are increasingly being used or considered in the context of the enterprise datacentre and at the network edge.
Increased distribution of cloud activity raises some real concerns
An overwhelming majority of study participants said that it matters both where data is stored and where it is processed, and not just from a compliance perspective. The placement of data and workloads can also impact application performance and the user experience. Latency is the big enemy as distances increase between the point of storage, processing and access. Another set of concerns then came up around the need for visibility and coherent management to maintain service levels and keep control of costs and risks.
A role is clearly emerging for distributed cloud platforms
During the research, we described ‘distributed cloud’ as an approach that allows managed cloud services to be deployed across your datacentre, your edge locations and/or third-party public clouds in a coherent and coordinated manner. Based on this definition, a number of platform-level capabilities were acknowledged as key enablers. These included centralised security and compliance management and real-time visibility across locations. Other functions to deal with distributed administration, application orchestration and developer support were also seen as important.
A proactive, coherent approach to distributed cloud is now a strategic imperative
Given the trend towards greater distribution of cloud activity highlighted by this research, a clear need has emerged for positive steps to maintain control and efficiency. But just as importantly, technology advances in this space can also boost your ability to innovate and transform. Platforms that enable true location-independence, including the consumption of AI, IoT and other advanced cloud services across the entire location continuum, create huge possibilities for new types of distributed application. Embracing distributed cloud therefore represents a strategic as well as an operational imperative.
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Dale is a co-founder of Freeform Dynamics, and today runs the company. As part of this, he oversees the organisation’s industry coverage and research agenda, which tracks technology trends and developments, along with IT-related buying behaviour among mainstream enterprises, SMBs and public sector organisations.