Forrester Lays Out Cloud Trends

Written by Ike Syed

Screen shot 2014-07-03 at 3.06.02 PMFor the uninitiated, cloud computing – or at least the jargon surrounding cloud computing – can be as confusing as a trip to Baskin-Robbins for someone who’s never had ice cream.

And, while there aren’t quite 31 flavors of cloud, choosing which variety suits you best can be a challenge.

One of the best things about today’s emerging new class of Cloud Management Platforms is that you are no longer limited to just one flavor – public, private or hybrid. It’s now possible to mix and match the cloud types that suit your various business needs and requirements and to manage them all from one screen.

But still, it’s helpful to have some understanding of the current trends surrounding cloud computing, especially as more vendors lay out confusingly titled options. Following is a quick synopsis of some key trends, as well as terms that are helpful to understand as you shop around.

First, the terms:

  • Platform as a service (PaaS): This approach allows customers to, effectively, rent hardware, operating systems, storage and network capacity over the Internet, saving significant sum on capital expenditure.
  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS): Here, companies farm out operations-support technology systems, including storage, hardware, servers and networking components. The service provider owns the equipment and is responsible for housing, running and maintaining it, with the client typically paying on a per-use basis. This saves not only on capital expenditures but also operating costs.
  • Virtual infrastructure: Virtual machines are software programs that mimic how certain hardware systems work. The software behaves like a separate machine, and can run programs and applications while acting like a guest on a host machine. Again, the savings is in hardware costs. You effectively turn one device into many.
  • DevOps: This is a movement afoot in enterprise IT circles that is focused on helping software developers, who build software programs, to work better with information technology operators, responsible for keeping the resulting product running in the production environment.

Now for the trends. According to the analysts at Forrester Research, here are some of the big developments in cloud computing:

  • Here Comes IaaS+: Rather than supplying software developers with “raw virtual infrastructure” with which to code programs, cloud administrators are increasingly giving them blueprints for pre-configured applications. Adding PaaS-type capabilities for the deployment of applications to private clouds is what Forrester calls IaaS+. Two factors are driving the expansion of IaaS. On the one hand, those who use the cloud are looking increasingly to applications for value, rather than infrastructure. Second, developers need on-demand access to templates they can use immediately for building applications. This gives corporate infrastructure and operations types more confidence that the applications that developers build will be the best fit for the company’s needs – and in some cases helps them finally achieve true private clouds.
  • A DevOps Resurgence: Dev and Ops run at fundamental cross-purposes. Development is supposed to get code done quickly. Operations’ marching orders are to keep technology running smoothly with little downtime. Virtual infrastructure is seen, among other things, as a way to provide better, safer environments for DevOps-style cooperation that brings apps to market faster and with fewer errors.
  • New Options for IT Service Management: Vendors will increasingly provide tiers of tools and other products for managing IT services in the cloud. Many of these suppliers are currently wrapping existing products into cloud packages, rather than simply adding features. As a result, some cloud packages offer more products and capabilities than small cloud customers need, which in turn limits customer adoption of the technologies. Look for vendors to change this approach to fit the needs of different customers by breaking out products and technical capabilities into tiers of pricing and products.
  • Issues with the Hybrid Cloud: At the moment, most large business enterprises treat public and private clouds as separate entities in a hybrid cloud arrangement. Most vendors don’t support movement of one workload from, say, a corporate public cloud to a private cloud, or vice versa, aside from provisioning efforts or sending work to Amazon Web Services. Close on the horizon, however, is a new type of CMP that will treat all cloud resources as a single pool of resources, allowing work to be shifted among elements of the hybrid cloud.