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The smart way to unleash the power of the cloud

Enterprises and large organisations in particular need the scale and flexibility that cloud provides if they are to grow their businesses and remain competitive. With the cloud becoming such a significant part of business today, it is little wonder that 85 percent of IT and business decision makers believe the technology will be an essential part of their digital transformation (DX) strategy in the coming years.   

Such momentum has caused the cloud computing market to soar, and it is now expected to grow to $162 billion by 2020. However, the myriad of technologies and solutions available for the hybrid cloud environments has led to service delivery infrastructure becoming increasingly complex, giving rise to new challenges alongside the opportunities. While implementing a cloud migration strategy is crucial to business velocity, introducing new DX technologies while simultaneously accelerating the delivery of new applications and services to customer can be fraught with risk. 

Hybrid and multiple clouds shaping businesses’ agendas   

These complexities are compounded by a growing number of organisations utilising a mix of cloud services from different providers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. Microsoft and 451 Research revealed that nearly a third of companies worked with four or more cloud vendors in 2016, and with multi-cloud environments enabling businesses to mitigate risks while leveraging different advantages from each provider, this number looks set to increase. What’s more, the growing adoption of multiple clouds is increasingly being supported by hybrid cloud solutions, in which public clouds are used to supplement an organisation’s existing on-premise and private cloud infrastructure. 

This ever-changing complex environment has created an urgent need to be able to see and analyse traffic flows to improve the corporate business posture for service assurance, security assurance and business analytics. Passive monitoring and real-time analysis of traffic flows can generate meaningful and actionable insights which will be crucial in driving down CAPEX and OPEX as businesses advance into the digital age. There will undoubtedly be an increase in the amount of data that will travel back and forth over the hybrid cloud environments and SD-WAN (software defined wide area networks) and therefore continuous and scalable monitoring and analysis of traffic flows will become a crucial aspect of a successful hybrid cloud strategy.   

On top of this, as the amount of businesses leveraging cloud technologies continues to grow, visibility in the cloud overall will come to the forefront. Continuous end-to-end visibility across datacentres, WAN, branch offices, cloud environments, and SaaS environments will enable IT teams to identify current or potential problems, resolving them rapidly and maintaining business velocity. Network outages cost large enterprises an average of $60 million per year and, with the Internet of Things (IoT) expected to grow to over 23 billion connected devices this year, many of which will underpin critical applications such as disaster monitoring and military situational awareness, there cannot be an “off.” To continue to maintain a competitive edge this year and for years to come, businesses must ensure they have full visibility across their entire infrastructure, including off-premise and on-premise cloud environments; otherwise the corporate business posture would erode and the risk of failure increase.    

Data needs to get smart 

As analytics become ever more complex, how can organisations get a handle on the huge increase in data gleaned from the traffic that traverses their physical and virtual networks? Big data analytics is good, but in order to deliver real-time insight into service and security assurance the analysis and efficient extraction of smart metadata has to be done continuously and at the source.     

By adopting a smart data approach, organisations across multiple industries will be able to obtain a complete top-down detailed picture of the new hybrid IT environment. This will enable a true understanding of application performance, service availability, reliability and responsiveness. On top of this, troubleshooting ability can take place in real-time and back-in-time, meaning organisations can learn from past mistakes to adapt service delivery and reduce risk in the future, whilst applying their newfound knowledge to current problems.   

Applications and services that leverage new and innovative platforms, services and technologies such as multi-cloud, hybrid cloud, SDN, SD-WAN and the IoT are only as good as the visibility an organisation’s IT team has of its entire delivery infrastructure. With a focus on investment in understanding service and application dependencies, availability, reliability, responsiveness, threats and the overall use experience organisations will be able to dramatically mitigate the risk associated with digitally transforming their businesses. 

Cloud innovation and evolution   

As we look ahead to the future, it’s clear that the cloud will continue to be crucial for business agendas. After all, over one third of IT professionals cited moving faster as their top goal for this year, and to achieve this aim, more and more businesses will look to leverage the cloud to improve service agility and flexibility.   

Last year, we saw a number of vendors disrupting the status quo and showcasing the huge potential that hybrid cloud can bring. In order for organisations to adopt this technology and boost their business velocity and service delivery pipeline, traditional vendors of on-premise virtualisation technologies, such as VMware, will look to extend their infrastructure into the cloud. We saw movement in this direction in 2017 with VMware and AWS expanding their partnership, and enabling VMware customers to efficiently extend their on-premises virtualised infrastructure and applications it supports into AWS cloud environments. 

Already this year we’ve seen both Azure and AWS post huge earnings, highlighting the huge momentum for hybrid cloud. Furthermore, with Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella recently describing his company as “the hybrid cloud provider of choice,” rapid innovation in the space is liable to take place, as providers race to dominate the market. As we look ahead to the rest of 2018 and beyond, a growing number of businesses will harness virtualisation, software-defined, and public cloud technologies to create new innovative business models, improve efficiencies and enhance the customer experience. The year ahead is going to become the year that the hybrid cloud becomes mainstream, and business should look to smart data to take full advantage of in order to truly digitally transform and improve their corporate business posture moving forward.        

Michael Segal, Area VP Strategy at NETSCOUT 

Image Credit: TZIDO SUN / Shutterstock

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