Key cloud computing trends and the case for using AWS/Azure

In early 2016, RightScale conducted its fifth annual State of the Cloud Survey of the latest cloud computing trends, with a focus on infrastructure-as-a-service. In 2016, the overarching theme is that hybrid cloud adoption is ramping as both cloud users and cloud providers mature.

The key value proposition from Rightscale is its based on actual cloud buyers and users, as opposed to cloud vendors.

What’s the summary – in my own words..

Hybrid Cloud- the use of both public and private clouds has increased. The reason is private cloud adoption has increased. Specifically cloud users are running applications in an average of 1.5 public clouds and 1.7 private clouds. They are experimenting with an additional 1.5 public clouds and 1.3 private clouds.

This is an excellent summary:

Respondents using the Cloud:
– Public Cloud only: 18%
– Private Cloud only: 6%
– Hybrid: 71%

Security is no longer the top cloud challenge – really – that’s what the survey says..thats because the biggest challenge is the lack of resources/expertise. Simply making security no. 2 (and still as important…)

Cost Management – is the next significant challenge. Cost management meaning how to optimise cloud costs through measures such as shutting down unused workloads and selecting lower cost clouds/regions. In other words, organisations realising that if they don’t cost manage their Cloud infrastructures, their Business cases will simply head negatively

Dev/Ops – no survey like this could miss this..adoption is still on rapid increase – Enterprises reaching 81%.  The twin trends of DevOps and cloud adoption are closely linked with Docker adoption doubling in a single year

Public Cloud: – AWS is the market leader – anyone who doesn’t know this has been living in a hole..Its adoption is flat – has it now saturated the market? Azure in second place is having a stronger growth albeit from a much smaller base

– AWS: 57%
– Azure IaaS: 17%
– Azure PaaS: 13%
– VMWare vCloud Air: 7%
– Google App Engine: 7%
– IBM Softlayer: 7%
– Google IaaS: 6%
– Digital Ocean: 5%
– Oracle Cloud IaaS:4%

Private Cloud – VMware vSphere continues to lead  -once again  no surprise; Openstack still has strong growth as does VMWare vCloud – 19% adoption each

The case for using AWS/Azure Public Cloud – publicly or privately:

It is difficult to underestimate the cloud contract’s importance. In a recent public appearance, CIA Chief Information Officer Douglas Wolfe called it “one of the most important technology procurements in recent history,” with ramifications far outside the realm of technology.

Until 2013, AWS had a very simple single principle – to only provide public cloud services. Microsoft however has always had a more flexible approach.  Both organisations have created some unique differentiators

– AWS – with the right sized cheque book, will build you your own private data centre – and integrate it into its global network, so all updates are done with very high frequency

– Microsoft/Azure – with the advent of the on premise Azure stack, provides a much neater integration between private/public cloud solutions.   They also appear to have created a closed market for Office 365 in terms of it only being hosted in a MS-based cloud

The following make reference to AWS services, but could be equally applied to many of the Azure-type features

  1. In the Cloud, Easy-to-Deploy Applications Rule – AWS success is largely down to the application development and hence application owners are driving deployment decisions
  2. Smart Software Trumps Enterprise Gear – The design approach goes beyond just using inexpensive kit to save money. It’s driven by Amazon’s recognition that, at large scale, hardware fails constantly, no matter how cheap or expensive. If you’re going to run a robust, highly available environment, then you can’t depend on the underlying hardware
  3. Ecosystem of Rich Services Attracts Developers – One of the main reasons developers embrace AWS is because of the richness of its services. This includes services that AWS itself provides, as well as a very large number provided by third parties. Developers can stitch applications together by combining these services with their own business logic. The AWS ecosystem provides an enormous advantage for users, enabling them to deploy applications quickly. Staten notes that the only extended service discussed in the RFP is a MapReduce analytics capability; he goes on to say that even if other services aren’t available in the CIA’s private environment, it would be easy for the agency to incorporate public AWS services, given that it would already have AWS interfaces and tooling in place to work with the internal cloud.
  4. Flexibility
    Putting AWS and Microsoft head to head, it would appear that they are approaching the Enterprise engagement from a different position
    AWS position is that their value is massive commoditation and standardisation – therefore any deviation is not tolerated as it would break their cost models.  This means when talking to AWS on all fronts – from contract management to emerging technoogies, there is normally a very singular robus response
    Microsoft appear to be taking the alternative approach to Enterprise engagement which is being more flexible and adaptable.  The advent of their on premise Azure stack is a great example of this.
    The more significant question though for an Enterprise is why they should deviate from what is considered “best practice”.  This was the similar challenge an organisation had in the early days of deploying SAP in Finance/HR – the natural reaction to many big Enterprises is not to trust their software provider and consider they know best – when quite often they don’t.

The case for a Private Commercial Cloud

On the face of it this sounds like a win-win relationship. An enterprise gets the collective investment and R&D from the commercial provider but can then also wrap this around some enterprise specific requirements – from security, service delivery/management, cost containment etc.

CIA-AWS Partnership: Cloud’s ‘Judgment of Paris’ Moment

The RFP outcome has been likened to the so-called Judgment of Paris in 1976, when American and French wines were compared. To the surprise and horror of the French wine industry, which took it as given that its wines were far superior to those of the U.S., American wines came out on top. Despite repeated protests and retests (truly reminiscent, eh?), the results confirmed the initial judgment. The perception of the quality of U.S. wines forever changed. There were knock-on effects as well. Fine European restaurants began to carry American wines, while U.S. wine connoisseurs added California wines to their cellars. One could argue that the Judgment of Paris played a role in the evolution of fine dining and food quality that one can see expressed today in “artisanal” foodstuffs, pop-up restaurants, food trucks, and on and on.

The Judgment of Paris represented a watershed event that forced an entire industry to re-evaluate its assumptions and behaviours. It had long-lasting, far-reaching effects. It’s likely that the CIA private cloud RFP will come to be seen in that same light.

Some Conclusions

An Enterprise will adopt a Hybrid Cloud strategy that will include multiple public and private cloud provision

AWS is still and continues to be the market leader by a very long way – driving more and more functionality richness

Getting the right skilled resource is still the most significant challenge – no matter where and how the Cloud technoogies are sourced

The application development communities are driving much of the change – but there needs to be caution applied here that they themselves are embracing the emerging native-cloud-centric developennt techniques

AWS vs Azure – if I knew the outcome of that in 5 years time, I wouldn’t need to worry about my pension plan. It reminds me of the very old phrase (“You wouldnt get sacked for buying IBM” – much has happened since then but it appears AWS are attempting to be in this same place.


2 thoughts on “Key cloud computing trends and the case for using AWS/Azure

  1. Nice post Neil.

    Some interesting observations and a couple of clarifications.

    One of the reasons that Microsoft is winning with Office 365 is that it is most often delivered as a public-private hybrid. Google went for a pure public approach which works for some organisations, but they have to be all-in. Organisations with data residency challenged will struggle with an all-in approach, and as soon as you have to treat some people differently you may as well treat everyone differently.

    Whilst I don’t see security as a cloud adoption challenge, data residency definitely is. This isn’t a security issue, it’s a legislation issue. The build out of the cloud providers into various countries will continue as a pace that will not be matched by the local service providers.

    I’m intrigued by the statistics suggesting that organisations use more than one public cloud. Cloud portability isn’t as easy as it sounds. Moving virtual machines between clouds is relatively easy, delivering all of the supporting regime in multiple clouds is less than straightforward. The impact of configuring and maintaining two different virtual networks is an overhead that I’m surprised organisations want. Add to that complexity with different service management, reporting, cyber security, operations, database, etc. These are all different in the large public clouds and running multiple public clouds sounds less attractive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hi Graham – thanks for the response
      I agree with your comments btw – items such as legislation can be a major show stopper
      In terms of “multiple” clouds, in my mind the use case for this is when an Enterprise has discrete projects so there is in fact no interoperability required and different workloads with different requirements


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s