2013: The Year the Cloud Becomes Invisible
In the same way the internet has become invisible, the cloud will too, according to Acronis’ Scott Crenshaw
The “Information Superhighway” sounds pretty silly to us these days.
It harkens back to when the web was more of a promise than a reality. Lately, we hardly even hear customers talking about the internet. That’s because the internet is part of everyday life and is basically invisible to its users. Maybe now it should be, ‘You’ve Always Got Mail.’ Customers take it for granted, but that’s because they can afford to.
In the same way the internet has become invisible, the cloud will also soon become invisible to it’s users.
For the last five years, the IT world has been focused on the nuts and bolts of the cloud: virtualisation, application mobility and hardware optimisation. Meanwhile, the hype around the cloud’s capabilities has been building. Moving forward, we get to see the exciting reality of the cloud, and its full potential to give customers more scalable, reliable and cost-efficient IT services.
Gartner predicts more than a third of content will be in the cloud within just four years. But, we have to guarantee the accessibility and assurance of this data, or we forfeit the return on their investment in the cloud. Fundamentally, the next stage of the cloud is about end-point access.
Gartner also predicts that Big Data will compromise 232bn in IT spending through 2016, and efficient data storage goes hand in hand with that. The good news is customers can be ‘data biased.’ That means being selective in what data they choose to store and back up, and when – ensuring accessibility and availability for business critical functions, while preserving costs and resources. This involves recommending a tiered storage strategy, with strategic implementations of physical, virtual and cloud infrastructure components.
Rather than resembling the ‘Frankenstein’ infrastructures of the past, with legacy and ‘best-of-breed’ components tacked on as needed, new cloud-optimised infrastructures will seamlessly integrate environments, while prioritising data for optimal efficiency.
That brings us to another point: how to effectively store and back up data in a hybrid world. Seventy percent of IT decision makers surveyed in the 2012 Acronis Disaster Recovery Index said that the greatest challenge in managing data backups was the migration of data across multiple environments. Business continuity is a key motivator for cloud adoption. However, backing up the massive amounts of data enterprises accumulate can be challenging, expensive and cumbersome; leaving some customers wondering: is it worth it? It is, but we need the right solutions to ensure that data can migrate across physical, virtual and cloud-based environments without causing business interruption, downtime or information loss.
When a reseller recommends a working cloud storage strategy they should also address the rising bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. Harris Interactive found that 81 percent of employees use at least one personal device for business use. Those employees aren’t just storing data on their smart phones, either. They’re backing it up to third party services like DropBox and iCloud. So, what can resellers do? Resellers need to help IT managers accept that iPads and third party cloud services are infiltrating the enterprise, and deal with it constructively. They need to help organisations institute holistic policies and find comprehensive solutions that address the security and availability of data both inside and outside the traditional IT infrastructure.
The forward-looking enterprise customer isn’t hiding from IT trends that aren’t going away: virtualisation, cloud, Big Data and BYOD. On the contrary, they are embracing these trends and finding ways to make them work for their business. Cloud is not just a piece of this; it is the sum of the parts. Cloud storage is an essential part of making data manageable across multiple environments, and keeping it secure in complex new infrastructures. But shhh… don’t tell EMC (or IBM, or Dell) about this new paradigm of the cloud. They want to stick to what they know and sell outdated technologies while continuing to deem the cloud as a special label innovation.
On the other hand, more nimble and agile innovators emphasise the simplicity and elasticity of the cloud. These companies are going to leapfrog competitors and shrink the market. Ultimately, this will result in making data faster, more available and cost efficient.
A Forrester study has already found that you can cut costs as much as 74 percent by storing data in the cloud. And, this is only the beginning. The cloud is ultimately restructuring both storage and economics. Even more than that, the cloud is changing the way IT works, and how our customers do business, in the same way the internet did.
We’re beginning to enter the phase of IT where the cloud is no longer on a pedestal. It will become such a part of our customers’ everyday experience in the enterprise that it won’t be noticed, and will be taken for granted. That’s a good thing. And, that’s why 2013 is the year the cloud becomes invisible.