Cloud 2019: The Battlefield Gets Crowded

There is no doubt that the Cloud is the world’s computing model of choice. For a debate that lasted an agonizing number of years, it is finally decided that a utility-based model of consuming computing resources, works best.

Enterprise IT News’ MARCH 2019 Editorial Theme is Cloud: The final touches for a Mature Market; as the initial issues of cost, privacy, security, vendor lock-in and downtime have all been addressed to certain clarity.

However the Cloud market is decidedly crowded too. Especially when Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for cloud infrastructure goes to 6 players from more than a dozen.

Locally, the more pressing questions that user organisations seek now are, what form of Cloud is the most optimised – public, private or hybrid to what extend?

Which ‘as-a-Service’ works best in Multi-Cloud?

Overall, the world’s IT spending is driven by the Cloud. Gartner predicts that 2019 global IT spending will increase to USD3.76 trillion with “as-a-Service” models adopted across the industries.

But at the same time, we are seeing a flux in the strategies of top cloud providers.

While ‘Infrastructure-as-a-service’ is mainly dominated by Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, multi-cloud is increasingly becoming the war cry for many cloud proponents; as seen by IBM’s game-changing USD34 billion acquisition of Red Hat (last October) that could change the landscape soon.

The multi-cloud approach that is being enabled by virtual machines and containers, is getting exciting. For example, Google Cloud is partnering with Nutanix to better showcase its public cloud benefits to attract more private cloud users into a hybrid environment. *Note: Last year, Google also hired top Oracle executive Thomas Kurian to help revitalize its Cloud division.

With multi- (and hybrid) clouds comes the questions of how do you best manage them? What is the best pricing scheme do corporations sign up for to optimise cloud spend, data backup and sharing? How much can HCI (hyper converged infrastructure) help?

Throw in the AI spanner

At the same time, new ‘fields’ such as Artificial Intelligence changing the strategy of Cloud players, and opened up the market to other players. For example, at the recent IBM Think conference in the US, we saw Big Blue opening up its AI flagship, Watson to competitor clouds.

This is a big deal as it is indicative of Big Blue’s strategy to manage AI and cloud services across multiple clouds. Opening up Watson means IBM is trying to grab more market by dangling a juicy AI carrot to customers who want to jump on a multi-cloud approach. IBM Watson CTO Puri was reported saying, “In these hybrid environments, (customers) have got multiple cloud implementations, they have data in their private cloud as well. They are struggling because the providers of AI have been trying to lock them into a particular implementation that is not suitable to this hybrid cloud environment.”

Artificial intelligence, Internet of things and analytics are the upsell technologies for cloud vendors. AWS, Microsoft and Google Cloud all have similar strategies to land customers with compute, cloud storage, serverless functions and then upsell you to the AI that’ll differentiate them.

So as IBM allows its AI Watson to now be used with other competitor clouds, it also moves strategically from being just a big infrastructure-as-a-service player to one that effectively spans platform, and software; private and hybrid.

It’s going to be an exciting year to see who comes out winning in the increasingly crowded Cloud space.