Cloud Market Insights – Convergence in Cloud

Over the next 18 to 24 months, according to IDC’s IT survey results, the biggest increase of Enterprise IT spend will be towards Private Cloud (Hosted and In-house). There is an expectation of a 35 to 40% overall increase in this figure.  Public Cloud spend is expected to increase 2% and traditional IT, a decrease of 12%.  Remember this is spend not growth or usage.  For example the 12% contraction in traditional IT can also be attributed to the high level of consolidation and efficiencies IT organizations and IT vendors have been pushing towards.

Given this tremendous increase in spend towards Private Cloud there is an increased demand for pre-integrated, modular and converged systems such as FlexPod.  What is important to realize, not all converged Private Cloud solutions are the same.

As a way of analogy, I would like to use the evolution of personal, portable technology devices starting in the early 90’s as a parallel to Converged Private Cloud systems.  The Financial Calculator which helped me get through my Finance degree at University or the Nintendo Game Boy which kept me entertained in the evening when my date was a no show were great at what they did but they only did one thing.  They were purpose built devices.

Moving forward in time, the Palm Pilot and the mobile phone are great examples of personal communication and organizational devices, which later became converged in the common form of the early Blackberry by RIM.  Here is an example of a converged device however it was still purpose built. There was little flexibility in being able to add or change the purpose this device, of what was originally intended. It was very good at keeping my contacts, calendar, e-mail in sync with my corporate mail systems and, oh yeah, it allowed me to make phone calls.  What it didn’t allow me to do was add additional functionality to check my personal e-mail or surf the web.

Fast forward to today, we have a variety of Smartphones on market, iPhone, Android, Windows 8.  This I call, a software enabled device, an enabling platform for virtually any App to run on it.  Essentially this abstraction layer enables each smartphone out there to be as unique as it’s user.  By creating a level of universal abstraction and broad standardization these smartphones are enabling a level of agility never before seen with personal portable technology.  What amazing times we live in!

To complete the analogy, I feel it’s important to reflect on the multiple Converged Private Cloud systems on the market today. The ideal would be somewhat like a Smartphone; easily accepting and running various applications and performing various tasks according to the needs of the business.  Where an application or service could run seamlessly without any need to change application and, more importantly, the underlying infrastructure. As an IT organization it’s important to have an infrastructure which is universal in nature; having the agility to adjust to the business and unforeseen changes in the future rather than the business adjust to it. An important aspect in evaluating such a solution is to consider how best of breed each of the components are at each level. Does it provide the right level of customization or a modular architecture to work with the equipment, expertise and processes you already have in your infrastructure?  Essentially, is it Agile?

To an IT organization, data is the essential life blood of what is getting transacted, distributed, shared, created and which drives businesses and organizations forward.  It is essential to look carefully at the data infrastructure. Not all infrastructures are the same and this certainly applies to Clouds.  The power of a truly agile, unified storage architecture can enable the level of ubiquity, abstraction and data mobility which can help IT continue on its road to being an integral and strategic part of the business.