The Enterprise of the Future: Not as Cloudy as You Think?

6 minute read
Virginia Backaitis avatar

The enterprise is “all in” on the (public) cloud, right? That’s certainly what all the hype leads us to believe.

After all, hardly a week goes by without Amazon, Google or Microsoft dropping their prices as they race to the bottom in the cloud wars. Not only that but there are also a host of celebrity-like CEO’s such as Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, Amazon’s Werner Vogels and Box’s Aaron Levie. They’re constantly in front of crowds preaching cloud-only gospels.

And there are the more recently converted to consider as well, such as IBM’s Ginni Rometty, who bought Cloudant, Silverpop and SoftLayer over the past 18 months and launched the IBM’s cloud Marketplace in April. Never mind SAP’s Bill McDermott, who started to refer the company he now single-handedly reins as “the cloud company”.

But all of that being said, there’s a newer trend in the enterprise now taking hold that indicates that the future may actually be hybrid. It seems that some managers don’t want or can’t have their data floating around “in the heavens” for reasons of security and compliance reasons, despite the cost savings.

What's the Cost?

The cost savings may not always be as big as we think, either. Venture Capitalist Brad Feld, while writing about AWS, points out, “Once you are at $200k/month of spend, it’s cheaper and much more effective to build your own infrastructure. I’ve now seen this over and over and over again. Once a company hits $200k/month of spend on AWS, the discussion starts about building out your own infrastructure on bare metal in a data center.”

And there are existing enterprise environments to consider as well.  Bill Carovano, senior director of Product Management at Citrix, summarizes his clients’ viewpoint like this: “Enterprise IT is like an archeological dig — layers upon layers of services have built up over decades. IT wants a solution that can deal with this heterogeneity. They’re looking for unified access to all popular enterprise content management systems (including on prem and in the cloud) from mobile devices so that it’s easier for employees to swiftly and securely take care of business from anywhere.”

He says the future is hybrid. “There’s increasing global demand for hybrid file sync and sharing solutions. Enterprises want the flexibility to store their data wherever it best meets their requirements for security, compliance, performance and cost. Hybrid solutions allow them to choose where their data is stored — on-premises, or in the cloud or a mix of both.”

Jeetu Patel, General Manager EMC Syncplicity is hearing the same thing. “Our customers are telling us loud and clear they want hybrid cloud which is why it’s a core component of what Syncplicity offers.” Syncplicity supports VNX as well as Isilon, Atmos, ViPR and other third party storage solutions.

Happy with Hybrid

Hadoop leader Hortonworks serves its customers according to their needs, “Our customers are definitely interested in hybrid environments but a key part of making this a reality is portability. We do a lot of work to make sure this can be realized in whatever environment they demand: on-premise, cloud, hybrid, no matter the operating system or cloud provider,” said Jim Walker, director of product marketing at Hortonworks. 

“For us, it's about delivering a consistent Hadoop stack across all environments at the same time. For instance, our work with Microsoft to deliver Hadoop as HDInsight is in alignment with availability of new versions of HDP for Windows Server. It's a complicated release engineering challenge however mutually beneficial for both Microsoft and us, but more importantly our customers."

Damon Tompkins, vice president of Metavis Technologies, which provides information management solutions for SharePoint and Office365 platforms says, “We believe the future of enterprise IT is going to certainly be hybrid; however, there will be disproportionately more compute handled in the cloud over on-premise data centers.

Learning Opportunities

He adds that the reason for this is simple: ”Organizations have to relentlessly focus on what makes them the best at their business and not the business of IT. Maintaining the infrastructure to support things like messaging, storage, help desk and collaboration, to name just a few, only stands to draw precious resources away from their core business competencies and ultimately cost more. When you consider the fully burdened cost of delivering basic compute services it just makes better business sense to leverage an increasingly cloud-centric model. Ultimately enterprises want to manage information and not systems and that lends to more and more being achieved in the cloud.”

Francois Ajenstat, senior director of Product Management at Tableau, said that there’s not only one answer, “The reality of the workplace today is that people need to make data-driven decisions all the time. This means that many enterprises are looking to make data accessible to more people in all kinds of scenarios. That often requires a hybrid of cloud and on-premises setups. Tableau is focused on supporting the variety of needs that enterprises have, and not pushing one model over the other.”

Karl Van den Bergh, vice president of Product and Customer Success at TIBCO, points to hybrid. “We see the future of enterprise IT as a hybrid model. IT’s need for control will continue to drive on-premises private cloud deployments, he explains, adding that, “at the same time, IT’s need to reduce costs will drive the need for a public cloud. At TIBCO Jaspersoft, our customers are increasingly deploying on Amazon Web Services, with our hourly-priced offering which now has over 1,000 customers. Customers using this option range from newly-founded startups to Fortune 500 companies.” 

Jonno King, vice president of Technology at K2, a business process application software company that provides workflow solutions around SharePoint and others, said, “For the vast majority of organizations that I talk to when they outline their cloud strategy they are actually referring to their hybrid strategy. Their approach to cloud falls broadly into three areas, it’s how they can shift commodity services such as email, unified communications and collaboration to the cloud; taking cloud first approaches to re-platforming decisions such as evaluating Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Salesforce when looking at CRM systems; and taking advantage of new value-added services that would have either been cost or resource prohibitive had they been on-premises based offerings.”

He also makes an interesting point. “They accept that certain solutions will never make the transition to the cloud whether that’s because of regulatory and compliance requirements, legacy dependencies or simply that a solution is so intertwined into the fabric of the organization, filling gaps between enterprise systems and departments, that the risk and cost outweigh the perceived benefits. They recognize that cloud and on-premises can’t become a new silo in their IT landscape.  Organizations that will truly benefit from cloud will be those that can seamlessly mesh their cloud and on-premises apps together into solutions that impact the whole business.”

Weather Report

So, given all of that, how cloudy does the near future actually seem? Partly cloudy, mostly cloudy, increasingly cloudy or overcast? You tell us.

Finally, we should note that we reached out to a dozen of cloud-only providers for this article and none of them responded, which is … let’s just say interesting.

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