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The Three Phases of Cloud Evolution

The cloud has become an unstoppable force yet businesses are still struggling to adapt

By: Matt Piercy

The Three Phases of Cloud Evolution

The cloud makes it possible for companies to focus completely on their core business.  It means they become more efficient, IT spend is curbed, and employees are empowered to find computing solutions to suit them. Cloud adoption is accelerating new opportunities and new markets. The combined innovation in the cloud far outstrips what an Enterprise could hope to innovate – it’s getting better every day. However, the path to ’off-premise’ nirvana has been fraught with complications and only now are we reaching ‘cloud nine’.

Phase One: How the Cloud Came to be

Companies began treating computing as a utility as early as the service bureaus of the 1960s, long before application service providers (ASPs) brought web-based applications to market as a service in the 1990s. Some of these early attempts failed because the technology was too crude and networks couldn’t cope. However, it proved the cloud would be viable once hardware improved and networks could handle the traffic.

When Java arrived and allowed us interactive applications on the web, it hit home that this concept of using the internet to connect to off-premise applications really could happen. Fast forward 10 years, Java matured, the internet became faster and easier to access, in fact, it became the best network in the world, and so it became viable to give enterprises and users the ability to do computing the way it works nowadays: with the benefits of unprecedented agility and flexibility.

Phase Two: Controlling the Cloud

The cloud caught IT departments unaware when employees started to use it for business. Staff started to bypass IT in their search for the best application available to support their job – which was often cloud-based and therefore created the phenomena of Shadow-IT.

The problem was that the cloud had the potential to negate the value of the network and those datacenters the IT department had so carefully created. In their old way of working IT managers viewed themselves as the keepers of a castle, they had built a moat around it and data and applications were secured inside this fortress. Many IT departments went into total denial with the cloud at first, as they could not face the idea of losing control over data and applications that were moving outside the fortress.

IT teams tried to keep everything under control by blocking cloud applications, inventing policies and forcing staff through lengthy and costly hoops to get them cleared – and of course, this procedure is the total contrary of what the fast, accessible and cost-effective cloud was supposed to be.

But users continued to plot their own path and justified their decisions because these cloud-based applications made them faster and more productive in their work environment, it made them more successful. At that point, the cloud had become an unstoppable force. This is, when IT departments realized, that they have to change their way of thinking and to adopt a methodology of coping with the trend.

Phase Three: Coping with the Cloud

Today, the cloud is everywhere. Applications are being used and the business and control-based IT methods are being rigorously updated. Internet-bound traffic already dwarfs that of datacenter bound traffic in most organizations. Up to 70 percent of network traffic today is already directed off premise. Organizations realize they have to adapt by implementing new processes and structures designed for an IT world centered on the cloud.

As digitalization is not only about implementing cloud-based apps, this move needs to be thoroughly planned. An old-fashioned castle and moat network does not work anymore in a world where cloud requirements for performance, bandwidth, and security are dominating. A network-centric infrastructure belongs to the past and will eventually be left behind on a journey to encompass the internet as the new corporate network. Companies will have to accept that they cannot control the internet. The security battle line has moved, connecting to the network is no longer enough; it's about connecting the right user to the right resource.




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