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The Real Cloud Innovations: Agility, Choice and Cost Savings

The above picture is what a cloud deployment seems like to most businesses these days – a vendor lock-in with very little wriggle room.

Just two days after an AWS business update in Kuala Lumpur, Techcrunch reports that the cloud company is still the cloud computing market leader at 32-percent, with Microsoft at second place (14-percent), and the third spot roughly a tie between IBM and Google.

But, cloud computing means different things to different people. Depending on whom you speak to, it can be described as software you access on the Internet for a subscription fee (SaaS), to environments developers can access to build their apps (PaaS), to computing resources that are on tap to use however you want, whenever you want (IaaS).

Needle-moving strategies

Moving on, it is worth noting that Google and IBM have made significant moves to try move the needle in terms of their market share.

IBM acquired Red Hat in what many sees as a hybrid cloud play for USD34 billion.

Google Cloud, looked towards Thomas Kurian as their new CEO, counting on two decades of enterprise experience to rub off onto them; he recently announced he would be increasing his sales force and train them to understand specific industry verticals.

Retail, the new cloud frontier

While Kurian is taking the route of beefing up his sales organisation, IBM has a totally different approach.

For one, they have made their Watson-branded artificial intelligence services, available in data centres and on any vendor’s cloud.

Recognising that clients’ data reside in many different places, IBM also saw their dilemma because AI providers have been trying to lock clients into one particular type of implementation.

Making Watson AI open on any platform, can negate the dilemma.

Secondly, IBM threw down the gauntlet by making a play for the retail industry and touting themselves to the management console of choice for managing retailers’ heterogeneous environments.

Retailers have three different areas to consider using cloud technologies in – their data centres, corporate headquarters and stores – significant opportunity for IBM which besides offering hybrid multicloud capabilities, wants to offer higher value cloud services like AI, blockchain and Internet of Things.

The real innovation

The third thing that IBM did, kind of underlines everything else they have been doing.

Remember the three brief definitions I shared about what cloud means?

Assuming that businesses will need to adopt a certain number of public cloud services and private cloud services; a hybrid cloud strategy; the next logical assumption would be that they’d like to acquire these services from more than one cloud provider.

This would be a multicloud approach.

Wikipedia describes one multicloud example as, “an enterprise may concurrently use separate cloud providers for infrastructure (IaaS) and software (SaaS) services, or use multiple infrastructure (IaaS) providers.”

The main takeaway however, is that there is freedom, choice and flexibility.

Hybrid multicloud

So, many see IBM’s Red Hat acquisition as a hybrid cloud play.

But it is more than that.

Red Hat’s last huge tech update in my opinion, is the real prize here – OpenShift, their container platform is important because it enables movement of resources across virtual, bare metal, public and private environments.

Then, there is Kubevirt their upstream community project around container-native virtualisation, which will enable even legacy apps to be containerised on OpenShift.  This project is slated to be productised sometime later this year, and what this means is that modern apps together with legacy workloads, can be seamlessly moved around.

It’s technologies that enable businesses to mix and match the best cloud vendor and service for the multitude of different use cases they have, that are the real needle-movers in innovation, in my opinion.

These technologies cannot be overlooked.