SPECIAL REPORT | Are we ‘cloudified’ yet?

Posted on Jul 27 2017 - 1:59pm by Michael David Tan

Among the tasks of the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is to “help accelerate the pace of developing improved rice varieties around the globe to feed a growing population, estimated to reach more than 9.6 billion by 2050”. To this end, IRRI has – for instance – helped sequence 3,024 rice varieties from 89 countries (via the collaborative, international research program called 3,000 Rice Genomes Project, or 3K RGP), with the “massive dataset” now considered as a “a powerful resource for understanding natural genetic variation in rice as well as for large-scale discovery of new genes associated with economically important traits.”

What continues to be not widely known is that this massive dataset that IRRI helped materialize is not “kept” in its HQ in the Province of Laguna. Simply, as a non-profit agricultural research center, it has limited resources, thus capacity. And so – and instead – IRRI moved most of its IT infrastructure to the cloud (specifically Amazon Web Services), which, among others, helped cut its costs by up to 50% by ridding it of the need to invest in a date center, while bettering the center’s functions (e.g. collaborations).

IRRI’s use of cloud somehow sums up the appeal of cloud migration. After all, everyone selling the concept of the cloud inadvertently sums up its adoption with business responsiveness while cutting costs. But perhaps it is worth noting that – even years after cloud gained traction as the new “it” in tech – the extensive (if not complete) adoption of cloud still hasn’t come to fruition.

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INSIDE THE CLOUD

To start, everyone – not just businesses – is already in the cloud, whether one is aware of it or not, with the prevalent use of free email accounts (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo!) and online file storage (e.g. Dropbox) that are in the cloud. But that notion of “knowingly” migrating operations to cloud continues to be rife with challenges.

Earlier interviewed exclusively by Upgrade Magazine, Jim Freeman, IBM’s Asia Pacific VP for hybrid cloud, said that “the fear (about) going to cloud” is still there. This is particularly true to enterprises/big companies, and even more particular to regulated industries. It is, therefore, not surprising – Freeman said – that “startups were actually the first to be in cloud.”

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This is not to say that cloud adoption hasn’t been picking up.

For starters, hybrid (public/private) cloud alone grew from $25.28 billion in 2014 to an estimated $40.8 billion by end-2017. It is estimated to reach $91.74 billion in 2021. As per a survey conducted by Insight with Harvard Business Review in mid-2017, this may highlight the recognition that cloud migration helps businesses increase collaboration (49%), better business agility/flexibility (45%), better end customer experience (43%), empowering workforce/better (internal) user experience (42%), and improve innovation (40%).

A more extensive look at the state of cloud adoption was done by RightScale, which – only this January – released the 2017 State of the Cloud Report after asking 1,002 IT professionals (48% representing enterprises with more than 1,000 employees) about their adoption of cloud infrastructure and related technologies.

Highlights include:

  • In total, 95% of respondents are now using cloud.
  • Overall, companies now run 79% of workloads in cloud, with 41% of workloads in public cloud and 38% in private cloud. More specifically, enterprises run 75% of workloads in cloud (43% in private cloud versus 32% in public cloud); while SMBs run 83% of workloads in cloud with more in public cloud (50%) than in private cloud (33%).
  • 85% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy, up from 82% in 2016 (even if private cloud adoption fell from 77% to 72%; and hybrid cloud adoption went down from 71% to 67%).
  • Respondents run 41% of workloads in public cloud and 38% in private cloud. But among enterprises, respondents run 32% of workloads in public cloud and 43% in private cloud.
  • Private cloud adoption fell to 72% from 77%. Use of hybrid cloud environments also fell to 67% from 71%.
  • Enterprise central IT has a broader view of its cloud role in 2017, including selecting public clouds (65%), deciding/advising on which apps move to cloud (63%), and selecting private clouds (63%). In comparison, respondents in business units are less likely to delegate authority to central IT for selecting public clouds (41%), deciding/advising on which apps move to cloud (45%), and selecting private clouds (38%).
  • Enterprises that have plans to use multiple clouds grew to 85% from 82% in 2016, with 58% planning on hybrid (up from 55% in 2016. Also noted was the increase in the number of enterprises planning for multiple public clouds (up from 16% to 20%) and a decrease in those planning for multiple private clouds (down to 7% from 11%).
  • Docker adoption surged to 35 percent, taking the lead from Chef and Puppet (at 28% each). Kubernetes adoption also grew to 14%.
  • Azure adoption grew to 34%, and Google to 15%. AWS stayed flat at 57% of respondents.
  • Azure Pack/Stack grew from 9% to 14%, but VMware vSphere continues to lead with 42% adoption.
  • Docker adoption as DevOps tool surged to 35%, leading Chef and Puppet (28% each).
  • Perhaps signaling maturity, the most cited challenge among mature cloud users is managing costs (24%). In 2016, the #1 challenge according to respondents was the lack of resources/expertise. Concerns about security fell to 25% from 29%.

A study from the IBM Institute for Business Value, “Beyond Agility: How Cloud is Driving Enterprise Innovation,” interviewed more than 1,000 respondents from 18 industries around the globe.

Based on the responses, 71% of the companies are using the cloud to innovate, while 76% of organizations report that their most successful cloud initiative drove expansion into new industries. They are taking advantage of the cloud to create new business models and expand into new industries, while they reduced time to market and improve customer experience.

“Cloud enables these innovators to use skills available throughout their ecosystems in order to develop new operating capabilities that shift industry economics in their favor,” Lope Doromal, chief technology officer of IBM Philippines, said to Upgrade Magazine.

The study found five key ways that the cloud enables innovation for organizations, i.e.:

  • To expand product and service features while improving the ease-of-use of products and services.
  • To design sophisticated customer journeys tailored to unique customer preferences.
  • To rapidly prototype, develop and deploy new products and services.
  • To reach new customers.
  • To gain entry to a new industry or market.

“While disruption is a less common occurrence than five years ago, there are still companies that use cloud initiatives to radically recast the status quo of their industries, create distinct new business models or assemble unexpected value chains,” Doromal said.

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The IBM study also found that putting into place new cloud projects without the support of business departments will “diminish the cloud’s ability to deliver innovations in business models. More than half of the executives surveyed said that their information technology (IT) organizations are most effective when leading cross-organizational cloud initiatives that create IT operations efficiency or lower the cost of the company’s spending on technology. And in organizations where IT departments adopt cloud technology without significant input from various business departments, its effectiveness is dramatically curtailed.

Almost half of organizations practice another approach, wherein a dedicated cloud team develops the organization’s cloud initiatives. “This approach can be advantageous, particularly if the governance team includes C-suite, business department and IT executives who view their organization’s cloud strategy as a top business priority and work together to ensure that cloud adoption is integrated with strategic business objectives,” Doromal said.

In the end, “by combining multiple cloud initiatives into a coordinated program, organizations can use the cloud to quickly build and test new product ideas, move into adjacent industries or geographic regions, deliver new products and services more effectively, and move ahead of their competition. Eighty-three percent of high-performing organizations say their cloud initiatives are either already coordinated or fully integrated within their organizations.”

Doromal added that “when organizations fully integrate their cloud initiatives, they can be transformative, transcending organizational, geographic, ecosystem and industry boundaries. Organizations can use the cloud to invent new customer needs, give birth to new markets and even disrupt industry economics. And everyone benefits.”

BASIC LESSONS

In the estimation of Amdocs ‘, in the APAC region, majority (roughly 70%) of service providers’ workloads will have moved to cloud by 2020, with a mixture of private and public cloud environments, while 30% will remain on physical or virtualized data centers. More specifically, “we’re seeing significant growth in the communications and media service provider industry,” Zeev Likwornik, cloud product line manager and head of Amdocs cloud center of excellence, technology & new offerings, said to Upgrade Magazine.

 

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But that some companies continue to have a wait-and-see approach to cloud adoption continues to be apparent.

For instance, “when communications and media providers begin their journey to cloud, they typically start with moving non mission-critical applications, such as HR or employee care which serve internal (friendlier) users rather than customers, and development and testing environments,” Likwornik said. “With regards to progressing further and migrating mission-critical applications, such as ordering, catalog, customer care and billing, they rightfully may have apprehensions about this as unsuccessful migrations impact revenue generation and customer satisfaction.”

Mike Wood, VP for marketing, VeloCloud Networks, said that “it shouldn’t matter what form of cloud enterprises choose because the business requirements and constraints of each enterprise or vertical is different from the other. Though several enterprises have made a 100% shift to public cloud, there will be cases when businesses require certain applications or services to be located in private data centers while other services are in the cloud. Cloud-delivered SD-WAN delivers the necessary reliability, performance and security for each model.”

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For Likwornik, “generally speaking, any cloud is better than not using cloud at all, but certainly the cloud deployment model (e.g. private, public, hybrid) as well as the cloud service model (e.g. SaaS, PaaS or IaaS) could have a big impact on the return on investment and value gained by an enterprise. Enterprises should assess their needs and requirements thoroughly in order to decide which model is right for them.”

A private cloud is often more cost-effective for applications that tend to have static or nearly static workload patterns. However with applications that have highly volatile workload patterns it is usually preferable to deploy them in a public cloud that can best scale to address unexpected peaks. In some cases, however, a public cloud is too far away physically in order to provide the low latency required for some latency-sensitive applications.

And so “for mission-critical applications, it is imperative to select a vendor that offers an innovative yet pragmatic cloud solution. For example, this means leveraging cutting-edge open source tooling, yet carefully evaluating their maturity to ensure they are future-proof and enterprise-ready. Often there is a perception that there is lower security with cloud solutions, but in fact cloud solutions with correct security implementations are actually more secure than non-cloud (on-premise) ones,” Likwornik said.

Additional aspects that a “responsible vendor should take care of include latency implications on latency-sensitive applications, as well as regulatory requirements such as data residency or GDPR, which many in the industry speculate will be embraced beyond just the European Union,” Likwornik added.

Oscar Visaya, country manager of F5 Networks in the Philippines noted that “a lot of companies are still apprehensive about moving into the cloud, especially due to concerns on cloud migration and integration. Additionally, with a perceived increase in security risks due to the growth in mobile and cloud-based applications, companies are wary of exposing their organization to security vulnerabilities.”

Visaya recommends “embracing a hybrid cloud architecture as it allows companies to maintain some applications on premise, while moving others into the cloud. Companies can move non-core operations such as email systems and HR into the cloud, while maintaining apps that hold sensitive information on premise. IT departments can better control on-premise and cloud-based applications in a hybrid cloud architecture with F5 solutions, which address conflicting application security policies while maintaining consistent application services in cloud application deployments.”

Visaya added that “we are definitely seeing a growing number of enterprises adopting a hybrid multi-cloud framework which allows the ease of movement across clouds, the simultaneous subscription to multiple cloud providers, and the mixed use of cloud and on-premise resources. Such an environment gives organizations the freedom to deploy any application, anywhere as companies are not locked-in to a specific vendor and are able to utilize a diverse range of infrastructure, software and hardware. A hybrid, multi-cloud architecture also limits operational downtime emanating from IT failure and reduces the risk of data loss.

Unfortunately, a lot of enterprises lack app security, especially in hybrid cloud environments. Companies should strive to adopt a unified security architecture that delivers app service consistency, without having to manage each individual instance in each individual environment.”

CLOUD = SERIOUS BUSINESS

For Ace Yutuc, head of product innovation at IPC, “moving any aspect of a business’ operations to the cloud is not to be taken lightly. It requires careful assessment and deliberation on the part of the management (CIO, CEO, COO, etc.). We believe that this apprehension stems from either lack of knowledge and experience, and/or fear of sharing control over the company’s data.”

But for Yutuc, what is key here is “to have the right strategy before beginning any shift to the cloud. This will help the company minimize the risks and maximize the benefits.”

To this end, IPC recommends four steps in determining a company’s cloud strategy:

Step 1: Know exactly what you want. “What do you want to use the cloud for? For your company’s email communications, payroll and timekeeping, disaster recovery, hosting your apps or other systems? By first figuring this out, you can then streamline your requirements,” Yutuc said.

Step 2: Assess your cloud readiness. “You need to consider these three components: technology, process, and people. Technology: You need to look at your existing infrastructure and technical requirements. Are they out of date/old/nearing end of life? Process: By moving to the cloud, will it make operations faster or easier? People: Do your people have the necessary skills to use the new technology?”

Step 3: Plan your cloud portfolio. “Successful businesses that utilize the cloud have a multi-cloud strategy that encompasses a portfolio of public and private cloud options. By planning your cloud portfolio beforehand, you can have the opportunity to have two or more cloud services to boost performance or minimize risks, depending on the circumstances.”

Step 4: Choose a cloud adoption pattern. “There are three common patterns here: Cloud First, Targeted, and Grassroots. Cloud First: This is typically done by using a private cloud setup, which has the benefits of the cloud but still maintaining critical applications in-house. Targeted: This entails moving select workloads to the cloud, or by utilizing the more user-friendly cloud applications first. Grassroots: This approach empowers your users – usually using a web-based interface that lets them call on cloud-based IT services in real-time.”

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Yutuc noted that for the Philippines, “where a lot of entities still have hardware driven IT, hybrid setup is a good entry point because it allows organizations to still use their existing equipment WHILE being able to start a cloud setup.”

He added that the Philippines is still a young market for cloud. “By using the cloud for a targeted requirement, the company gets a better feel of how it works and how it can benefit their organization. This helps ease the initial apprehension in moving to the cloud,” he said. “What’s good about the cloud is that since it is not dependent on hardware, end users can deploy their cloud setups with their specific requirements in mind. It is completely up to them; they need to consider what suits their business, and what lets them keep their peace of mind. If they prefer to use the hybrid cloud model – so that some of their critical applications are kept in a private cloud – then so be it.”

IPC Cloud Servers powered by Cloudsigma has tools that can help businesses migrate their on-premise servers to the cloud. On the other hand, there are also available tools where, instead of totally migrating all servers to the cloud, a DRaaS model can be setup, either the on-premise equipment or the cloud becomes the primary server then the other segment becomes the recovery site. IPC similarly has Google Cloud (formerly Google Apps for Work) – this is Google’s enterprise version of their free Gmail (no more using mybusinessname@gmail.com); Salesforce.com CRM, a customer relationship management software; IPC Paycheck, a cloud-based timekeeping and payroll solution; and IPC Voices, a cloud-based contact center solution for the SME call centers.

“The challenge is no longer in the IT level as IT professionals from programmers to CIOs and CTOs are already aware of the benefits of the cloud. Right now, what’s hindering this shift is in the management and business development level because there is still a level of apprehension towards cloud computing, which is completely understandable,” Yutuc said.

All the same, he believes that “what’s great about the cloud is that is a technology that all industries can use. Cloud-based tools are vendor-agnostic solutions; every company needs storage of data that can be accessed from anywhere, and all businesses can benefit from enhanced collaboration brought by cloud-based conversational tools that enable productivity real-time. For those who wish to spend less, the cloud is first and foremost a scalable solution that requires little hardware to run. All industries show growth in cloud adoption that even hardware providers are setting up cloud infrastructure just to bolster the use of their equipment. And this is a sign of the changing consumption of IT across all industries.”

For F5 Networks’ Visaya, “enterprises should be aware of the differences between running applications in public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud environments as these have varying implications. They should be able to weigh the pros and cons of each option when evaluating usage requirements. Deploying applications on a private cloud allows IT personnel to manage the apps on their own and use them to store sensitive data. Only organizations themselves have access and control over the private cloud, which is on-premise and secured by a firewall. On the other hand, with public cloud, organizations share the management of their infrastructure with the cloud operator while retaining the management of their applications including application security and responsiveness. Hybrid cloud environments actually offer companies more flexibility and allow them to keep sensitive applications on a private cloud, while hosting other services on a public cloud.”

And so, Visaya said, “we recommend the use of a hybrid, multi-cloud strategy, which allows companies to work with different cloud providers across multiple clouds while optimizing the usage of on-premise and cloud resources. And companies will not even need to worry about different security architectures in such a complex environment because solution providers – such as F5 – can help drive consistent application service delivery and security even across multiple clouds.”

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CHALLENGES APLENTY

Challenges remain aplenty, obviously.

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For Wood of VeloCloud Networks, the primary inhibitors to cloud migration are security, Internet reliability and application performance.

“With security, companies, businesses and Enterprises will gain confidence when the vendors offering cloud services align and integrate with best-in-class cloud security solutions to enable a secure, simple, and seamless cloud deployments. In regards to Internet reliability, complete or partial reliance on the Internet for business critical and real-time applications is a detriment to the company as it results in sub-par unpredictable reliability, which includes network brownout and blackout conditions. Cloud application performance is very often negatively impacted by the non-deterministic, network impairment riddled and throughput constrained Internet at the first, middle and last mile. Companies demand the 100% business continuity that is derived from reliable connectivity, deterministic performance, exceptional reliability and fully functioning, secure applications,” Wood said to Upgrade Magazine.

For Wood, using technologies like Dynamic Multipath Optimization, Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN mitigates these apprehensions and dramatically improves application performance over the Internet, doing so safely, securely, and quickly, which enables enterprises to seamlessly migrate to the cloud.

For F5 Networks’ Visaya, also posing a challenge is “the responsiveness of applications in the cloud. This, of course, depends on factors such as broadband speed and Internet access. Moving into multi-cloud environments makes managing applications more complex. Companies need to train people to handle multiple clouds, which have different security architectures. Thankfully, there are a lot of solutions that help mitigate security risks, control app performance, and improve service accessibility especially in multi-cloud environments.”

For Amdocs’ Likwornik, “a common and key challenge is skill scarcity. Ramping up and reskilling a company’s workforce is a lengthy process. Martec’s Law indicates that while technology is changing at an exponential pace, organizations are changing logarithmically. This often becomes a key challenge in selecting which technologies to work with, due to the complex ecosystem with its endless options that are constantly evolving and many tools that are not yet mature enough for enterprise requirements.”

“Today, corporate leaders must confront their company’s massive data workloads. They know that the cloud is the answer. But in the face of a growing list of competing cloud solutions, they’re confounded by the same critical questions: How can we share our company’s data in a public cloud to improve customer experience while securing it from fraud, theft and cyber threats? How do we mine critical, actionable insights from rising volumes of corporate data? How do we move our company into the cognitive era of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI)? As if that wasn’t complicated enough, these companies must also consider the emerging forms of cloud-based services such as blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT),” Doromal said. “To make the right cloud choice, what we advise our clients when examining the options, is to consider the best cloud solutions that share these core characteristics: it must be enterprise strong; it must possess a data-first architecture; and it must have cognitive at its core.”

Re security, IBM’s Doromal said that “what’s important is to know how cloud can drive innovation for your organization. Cloud adoption has moved beyond the stage of acquiring technology to powering business innovation worldwide. Five years ago, organizations were adopting the cloud primarily to streamline IT infrastructure and cut costs. Now they are working on a variety of goals and strategies. The most innovative companies are using the cloud to move into new industries, transform customer experiences, develop new revenue sources and invent new business models.”

EVOLVING CLOUD

IBM’s Doromal said that “the role of the cloud is changing – it is maturing. Cloud is now the platform for innovation and business value.”

For Doromal, while the first phase of the cloud was all around streamlining IT infrastructure and cutting cost (“We wanted cheap compute and cheap storage”), now, “we’re in the next phase and it’s all about innovation. The most innovative companies are using the cloud to move into new industries, transform customer experiences, develop new revenue sources and invent new business models.”

Doromal said that there are three key trends happening in the world today, from a macro view, i.e.:

  1. Disruption is occurring across industries and within companies of all sizes
  2. We are seeing a deluge of data – Not just the amount, but types of data… it’s pictures, videos, sensors, heartbeats.
  3. Particularly at an industry level, there is a need for digital transformation. Industries are being disrupted and are converging.

“Within the technology industry, we are seeing that building a strong IT foundation requires more than just technology. IT leaders must partner with business leaders to help transform their business,” Doromal said. “Cloud has evolved from a technological innovation to an integral part of business enablement. With this incredible proliferation of and access to data, cloud is becoming a platform for innovation.”

Doromal summed that:

  • There is a journey to transform, with enterprise first adopting hybrid solutions, and then moving to public cloud. 80% of data is on premises today, eventually 80% will be in the cloud.
  • But even as cloud adoption matures and expands, surveyed organizations expect that about 45% of their workloads will continue to need on-premises, dedicated servers – nearly the same percentage as both today and two years ago.
  • Also, as this journey progresses, basic cloud infrastructure services become commoditized, and value-added services are increasingly important, specifically: analytics, cognitive, and developer tools.
  • And so this is a race for value, not for size, favoring those who can deliver the best data analysis to help enterprises harness all of their data.

In IBM’s experience with the enterprise, “our cloud strategy has always been around a hybrid model because we understand that certain workloads will be very difficult, if not impossible, to move to public cloud due to technical, or regulatory restrictions,” Doromal said. “In an era where IT infrastructure is no longer defined by the four walls of your datacenter, now more than ever, innovation requires working outside enterprise boundaries. That demands secure hybrid cloud technology that supports an agile environment.”

Doromal added that “to succeed at cloud scale, you must be able to securely connect apps, data, and services while also maintaining enhanced security to protect your sensitive assets. And, you must be able to compose new apps and services quickly and across hybrid environments. What’s all this mean for your business? It means getting ahead of your competition with speed and flexibility and control. Security and agility must go hand in hand in the new economy.”

For Doromal, businesses need to answer: Can you accelerate innovation without sacrificing security and control? Can you ensure integration across enterprise IT and hybrid clouds in a way that unlocks new value for the business?”

“Companies who can move quickly to securely connect enterprise resources and expose them as new services in their cloud will move ahead. And to succeed like this, you need a hybrid cloud infrastructure for visibility, performance, control, integration and security. You can if you start at the infrastructure level and enable workload isolation, and transaction-level and file-level security. But you also must encrypt data—at massive scale, at rest, and in flight—without sacrificing performance. That demands IBM Systems that ensure seamless integration across traditional IT infrastructure and cloud environments,” Doromal said. “What’s all this mean for your business? It means IT infrastructure with the right mix for innovation, efficiency and growth in order to drive your business forward in the cognitive era.”

(STILL) RAMPING UP SOLUTIONS

How does a leader make the right cloud choice?

For IBM, when examining the options, the best cloud solutions will share these core characteristics:

  • It must be enterprise strong. A strong public cloud for flexibility and economics, a private cloud for those who want to keep sensitive data on-premise for security or regulatory reasons, and hybrid options for those who want to leverage existing investments and take advantage of public cloud.
  • It must possess a data-first architecture. Allows businesses to extract data to gain insights from it. That means any organization can easily combine public, private, and licensed data, and control the data control with locality, as well as isolation (so data doesn’t co-mingle).
  • It must have cognitive at its core. Cognitive draws actionable insights from data and in doing so, helps to transform and personalize the customer experience.

“Every company’s data workload will continue to grow at a rapid pace. That only elevates the importance of its cloud solution choices. The most successful leaders will consciously consider these characteristics to move their companies faster and further into the future,” Doromal said.

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And cloud providers are continuously ramping up solutions to deal with existing and emerging issues.

In the case of Amdocs, for instance, it has the Amdocs Cloud Center of Excellence, “a cross-functional team of cloud experts that has worked for many years with leading service providers worldwide to assist them in their strategy and roadmap definition and technology selection. As the move to cloud grows, companies’ IT environments are becoming increasingly complex as they manage in parallel both on-premise data centers and cloud, as well as traditional applications and new cloud native applications, all the while ensuring backwards compatibility. Therefore, Amdocs offers operations and managed services to manage companies’ applications and IT environments.”

Amdocs also has BSS, OSS and network software solutions “that leverage advanced cloud technologies and run on all cloud deployment models including private, public and hybrid. Our portfolio of applications are cloud enabled, while certain applications that require the highest business agility are cloud native with a microservices architecture. In addition, we are investing organically and inorganically in offering a full suite of professional services to enable companies to migrate their existing applications to cloud, including to hybrid cloud, and operate and manage these applications and cloud environments in an ongoing managed services model. Since we think that skills scarcity is becoming the main roadblock to cloud adoption, we predict an accelerated demand for our cloud professional services.”

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Meanwhile, VeloCloud prides itself as “the global leader in Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Network) solutions.” VeloCloud Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN enables Enterprises to securely support application growth, network agility, and simplified branch and end-point implementations while delivering optimized access to cloud services, private datacenters and enterprise applications. Global Service Providers are able to increase revenue, deliver advanced services and increase flexibility by delivering elastic transport, performance for cloud applications, and integrated advanced services all via a zero-touch deployment and operations model. Both Enterprises and Service Providers benefit from the multi-tenant cloud gateway architecture and the ability to support real-time applications over private, broadband and wireless links. With VeloCloud, The Cloud is the Network.

“Enterprises have hesitated to shift to the cloud due to concerns of security, reliability and application performance,” Wood said. “That is why VeloCloud has led the industry in establishing and growing a cloud security ecosystem comprising best in class security providers like Zscaler, Fortinet, Palo Alto Networks, CheckPoint, IBM Security, Symantec and Forcepoint making it easy to integrate security with SD-WAN with a single click. In addition, VeloCloud Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN is renowned for monitoring links for throughput, packet loss, latency and jitter while steering traffic and, if needed, remediating on demand on a sub-second basis to ensure high performance for business critical and real time applications.”

For its part, IPC launched the #DiscoverDigital campaign to educate enterprises that wish to make the digital pivot. As IPC’s Yutuc said, “we have been strong advocates of the cloud for many years now, but we believe that arming everyone with the proper knowledge is the first step.”

For F5 Networks, Visaya said that “our entire solutions portfolio is applicable to private, public and hybrid cloud environments. We have a diverse range of highly programmable, scalable, cloud-ready hardware options, including BIG-IP iSeries line of Application Delivery Controllers and VIPRION platforms, which accelerate private clouds, secure critical data and deliver multi-vendor service orchestration, while lowering costs and future-proofing infrastructure. Meanwhile, our Herculon security products address specific security challenges, minimize disruptions, and optimize performance. We also have virtual editions of BIG-IP products, which offer the same breadth of features available in hardware solutions. These offer scalability, security, customization, and adaptability and are designed for virtual, cloud, and hybrid environments.”

IBM has the IBM Cloud, which has processing that serves the needs of enterprises and gamers alike (from bare metal to a global network of data centers, driving down latency) and provides comprehensive storage solutions across private, dedicated and public cloud. As per Doromal, “IBM’s cloud data centers are in more countries than competitors as IBM was the first cloud vendor to declare a cloud data center strategy that focused on an in-country approach to help clients keep their data local and manage performance.”

The IBM Cloud is built to handle the full variety of data types and can ingest, cleanse and make sense of public/private/licensed and multimodal data. In addition, IBM allows clients to move their data for free across its 50+ global cloud data centers in 20 countries. IBM is also continuing to launch new Watson tools and services to enable easy development of application to solve tough, industry specific problems. Recently, IBM launched the Watson Data Platform, the first enterprise data platform built from the ground up to enable machine learning. Watson on the IBM Cloud is available to more than 200 million consumers to answer questions, find what they need online and make recommendations. IBM Watson also works with the enterprise companies including: Apple, J&J, H&R Block, Medtronic, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Thomson Reuters and SwissRe. It is expected that one billion people will be using Watson by 2017.

MOVING FORWARD

“Adoption of cloud computing and cloud technologies is inevitable. Don’t wait and see. Cloud is fast becoming a requirement in order to stay competitive,” Amdocs’ Likwornik said. “If they haven’t already, we believe and recommend that enterprises should start acquiring the necessary expertise and skills right now. For those that currently lack the required skills and experienced professionals in-house, the best approach is to turn to a partner who can support them in their journey. Amdocs Cloud Center of Excellence provides a cloud maturity model which lays out the three evolutions that companies must go through in parallel to move to cloud – moving to cloud infrastructure, adapting their applications to cloud and evolving their workforce and processes to DevOps practices. The maturity model allows companies to assess where they are in their journey, and where they want to get to. It is important to take into account all three aspects, as for example a company which has not adopted DevOps practices and is ready adopt frequent releases, (e.g. receiving new code every few weeks), would not gain benefit from evolving to cloud native applications.”

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But VeloCloud sees a broader change happening, as it “sees a shift to cloud adoption by enterprises in every industry with a distributed presence and who require business agility, centralized IT control and a desire to slash unnecessary CAPEX and OPEX costs. Some industries, however, are moving at a faster pace than others, such as retail, construction, manufacturing, professional services and financial services,” Wood said.

Nonetheless, and ultimately, “it is for the enterprise to decide when they are comfortable moving to the cloud. Earlier adoption will enable enterprises to take advantage of the cost, agility, economies of scale and performance benefits that the cloud delivers, provided it is complemented with technologies like VeloCloud Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN to ensure security and application performance are not compromised,” Wood said. “Company IT organizations are also able to shift their focus away from supporting, upgrading and maintaining applications, service, networks and resources and instead focus on projects which increase top line growth, profit and align with the overall objectives of the business. In many ways, opex is the new capex.”

In the case of IBM, some industries already making use of IBM Cloud Industry Solutions include: aviation (to streamline aeronautical decision-making with aviation and inflight weather data); banking (buil secure, innovative financial services applications); gaming; energy (improve energy demand predictions with superior weather forecasts); government; healthcare (re-imagine healthcare delivery using agile, data-driven solutions); media and entertainment (deliver engaging digital media experiences); retail (modernize IT to power retail transformation); and telecom (grow business with differentiating services).

“Organizations must lead with solutions that redefine business models and engage consumers, regardless of their industry,” Doromal said. “In an era of disruption —from surprising new competitors to changes in technology to increasing demands from your customers, they need to be empowered to embrace change and propel progress. With a high-performing cloud infrastructure and a sophisticated development platform embedded with distinguishing services such as cognitive computing, cloud can be their foundation for a successful future.”

For IPC’s Yutuc, “at this point, early adoption is no longer the norm. Virtually all entities are rushing to set up their cloud infra and are trying to catch up with everyone else. One main driver that is pushing cloud adoption is the evolving customer trends and demands that can be met by cloud-based applications.”

F5 Networks’ Visaya agrees.

“It is said that digital transformation is a journey, not a destination. Every company has a different route and is at a different place in that journey. Many companies are exploring ways to scale private cloud deployments by embracing open source. Others, while moving mission critical workloads to the public cloud, are struggling with the need to keep latency low and maintain security controls. There is also growing tension between new cloud-based app development models and traditional IT approaches that needs to be resolved. Underlining all of this is the need for consistent application management and policy regardless of where the app lives and who owns it,” he said.

Visaya noted that a wide range of businesses, including SMBs, are moving into the cloud, with most of them operating in hybrid cloud environments. But most of the ones rapidly adopting cloud are unregulated industries such as retail and manufacturing. Businesses involved in manufacturing leverage the cloud for business support, HR, some manufacturing operations and logistics.

However, “cloud adoption in regulated industries such as banking and finance is slower. In the Philippines, banks still need to secure the approval of the central bank first before they can roll out new processes. Regulated industries primarily utilize private clouds, too: Banks, for instance, mostly use the cloud for administrative functions such as email and file sharing, while maintaining their own data centers to store sensitive information.”

Visaya stressed that “companies should first understand what their needs are, before seeking the products and services that best meet those needs. It is a given that applications delivery services should work on any platform, in any scenario for all customers. It is no longer a question of ‘waiting and seeing’ — it is already a given that companies are moving into the cloud. This is why employees should adapt to new processes and infrastructure, to make the transition easier.”

About the Author

MICHAEL DAVID “Mick” DELA CRUZ TAN is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. He has been working as a writer for over 14 years, with his pieces published in Philippine dailies, magazines and Webzines, among others. He also worked for donor agencies, overseeing publications about advocacy issues – e.g. writing the “Being LGBT in Asia: Philippines Country Report”, funded by UNDP and USAID. He received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (Best Investigative Report) in 2006. Mick is a multi-tasker, able to: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (of course), shoot flicks, community-organize, facilitate, lecture, and conduct researches (with pioneering studies under his belt), among others. He is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language. He now heads the only LGBTzine in the Philippines, Outrage Magazine, which he established in 2007. He subsequently founded Zest Magazine and Fringe Magazine, and is a co-publisher and Editor-at-Large of Upgrade Magazine.

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