UPDATED 15:09 EDT / JANUARY 22 2021


Big shifts are coming in the new era of the distributed cloud

Nothing in the tech industry stays the same as products and technologies are constantly evolving, and the cloud is a living example.

The cloud started as a place where enterprises could run key applications off-premises in secure environments. That transformed to a cloud native model where applications were built and run on the cloud platform.

Now the tech industry is experiencing a third cloud wave, one in which containers and microservices enable app creation through tools provided by cloud and edge computing providers.

“We’re in a transition to what’s called distributed cloud,” said Zeus Kerravala (pictured, right), founder and principal analyst at ZK Research. “If you look at modernized cloud apps today, they are made up of services from different clouds and distributed edge locations. That’s going to have a profound impact on the way we build apps.”

Kerravala joined Dave Vellante and John Furrier, co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, and Maribel Lopez (left), founder and principal analyst at Lopez Research, during theCUBE on Cloud event this week. They discussed the role of third-party vendors in managing cloud complexity, the rise of specialized clouds, the evolving role of data and the way enterprises will need to make critical choices in the coming year.

Lifecycle of components

Kerravala cited the acquisition this month of security services provider Volterra Inc. by F5 Networks Inc. as an example of the trend toward a distributed cloud. F5’s goal is to create an edge services platform for the enterprise that can deliver secure cloud apps at scale.

This has ratcheted up the complexity and forced a number of businesses to seek expertise from vendors to manage and migrate applications as needed.

“What was the lifecycle of an application is now the lifecycle of components,” Lopez said. “That’s a pretty complex thing. Many of the larger companies I speak to are looking for a larger company to help them build some kind of framework to migrate what they’ve used to what they need to have going forward.”

This migration and complexity are driving an ecosystem of third-party vendors to essentially manage clouds and build bridges between different platforms in a multicloud world.

“If you look at the cloud providers, AWS does a great job of stitching together all things AWS, and Microsoft does a great job of stitching together all things Microsoft, and the same with Google,” Kerravala said. “But if I want to do some Microsoft to Amazon or Google to Microsoft connectivity, they don’t help so much with that. That’s where third-party vendors, such as Aviatrix on the network side, Volterra the security side and even Cisco, have been doing a lot of work.”

Growth of vertical clouds

Along with the distributed cloud and the growth of third-party vendors to manage multicloud connectivity has been the rise of the vertical cloud. One example of this can be seen in IBM’s launch of its Cloud for Financial Services, part of a growing trend toward cloud specialization.

“Where we left off in 2020 was with hybrid cloud, but we’re just starting to see the era of the verticalized cloud,” Lopez said. “It’s the cloud for finance, the cloud for healthcare, the telco and edge cloud.”

Key to the growth of distributed or vertical clouds will be the evolving role of data. Cloud computing providers are adapting to a world in which a cloudlike experience needs to be delivered to where customers want their data to reside.

“We’re moving the data closer to the user,” Kerravala said. “The decision to stop or not should be done in-car. I don’t want to transport that data all the way back to Google to decide whether or not I want to stop. The same data can be located at the edge or in a centralized cloud for different purposes.”

Industry analysts such as Lopez and Kerravala have a front-row seat to closely observe the transformation currently taking place in the enterprise information technology world. As the cloud undergoes yet another wave of change, organizations will be forced to select from an expanding list of options and vendors. Those choices will shape much of the story for 2021.

“How companies make this transition is going to be interesting,” Kerravala said. “There’s no real de facto way. It is a whole new world, and it creates so much opportunity for people involved in cloud today.”

Here’s the complete video discussion, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of theCUBE on Cloud event:

Photo: MarPockStudios/Pixabay

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