Distributed Cloud: The Latest Innovation Accelerator
Now, in addition to public and private clouds, enterprises have the option to combine cloud options into a distributed cloud network.
- By Hari Kodakalla
- January 7, 2022
Cloud computing has become a key foundational component of the IT fabric for enterprises across industries. Although most organizations are still coming to terms with the cloud choices they made during the pandemic, they continue to optimize, consolidate, and expand their cloud footprint.
To meet specific business needs, cloud service providers now offer countless options, including innovative offerings based on technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, edge computing, and fog computing. As the use cases for cloud computing grow, next-gen cloud models that bring customers closer to their data are evolving quickly -- with distributed cloud at the forefront.
Why Distributed Cloud?
The distributed cloud model allows businesses to deploy and run applications in a mix of cloud locations and environments that best meets their performance, regulatory compliance, and other requirements. In addition, it provides a consistent operating model across multiple cloud environments and heterogeneous edge locations, enabling enterprise applications to talk to each other regardless of the location or type of cloud.
Here are some key business benefits driving the adoption of the distributed cloud:
- Increased resiliency: Eliminating reliance on one cloud service provider requires enterprises plan a resilient multicloud architecture as part of their transformation. A distributed cloud facilitates this and helps ensure high availability and stability, even when there is a sudden surge in demand.
- Better performance: Enterprises can leverage the distributed model to enable local data processing for location-dependent cloud use cases. Processing data in multiple locations can improve bandwidth and reduce latency, which, in turn, enhances performance.
- Cost optimization: Running the right workloads locally on the distributed cloud helps businesses optimize costs because they can take advantage of the most cost-effective pricing plans across cloud providers.
- Rapid innovation: A distributed cloud simplifies access to the latest technology offerings across cloud providers, helping users explore new opportunities and maximize business benefits.
- Enhanced security: Because the distributed cloud de-centralizes operations such as data processing, successful hackers can only access a small percentage of enterprise data at a time. This makes businesses less vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches, thus improving their security posture.
- Risk diversification: By providing a reliable control plane to manage multiple public and private cloud environments, a distributed cloud helps reduce the risk of unplanned outages and failures -- one of the biggest challenges of vendor lock-in. It helps businesses lay the foundation for a robust disaster recovery strategy in a fast-moving, volatile cloud marketplace.
Moving to the Distributed Cloud Model
According to Gartner, by 2024, most cloud service platforms will provide at least some distributed cloud services that execute at the point of need. However, although a distributed cloud empowers organizations with increased reliability and interoperability, managing multicloud deployments is not easy. Without adequate enterprise readiness on multiple fronts, the potential challenges of the distributed cloud can outweigh the benefits.
Decision makers are faced with several uncertainties: Should we choose an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) model or adopt more cloud-native services? How will we handle the increased administrative, security, and maintenance complexities? Is there a sustainable way to port applications that leverage unique features of a particular cloud service? How will we effectively optimize costs across multiple cloud environments?
Overcoming the Challenges
To avoid any business disruption, enterprises need to understand the business risks of a distributed cloud, explore possible trade-offs, and formulate a robust implementation strategy. Over time, most organizations are likely to deploy multiple computing options across private and public clouds, certain best practices can make the transition simpler and safer:
- Embrace a phased approach towards multicloud adoption
- Resolve application-to-application connectivity pre-emptively
- Adopt public and standard APIs wherever possible
- Implement a consistent operational model with common infrastructure and services
- Reassess cloud costs and identify optimization opportunities periodically
- Develop a comprehensive monitoring system with a unified dashboard to measure KPIs across infrastructure, applications, and resources
- Maintain a zero-trust posture for security across all cloud environments and edge locations
- Invest in specialized cloud-agnostic support accelerators wherever possible
These practices can help enterprise teams secure additional data touchpoints, ensure seamless integrations, avoid vendor lock-in, and realize 360-degree visibility across the distributed technology stack.
On the Horizon
As edge computing, digital transformation, and decentralization become more common, the adoption of the distributed cloud model is likely to grow in the coming years. This will invariably give rise to new business models, based on the split of responsibilities shared between customers and cloud providers.
Modernizing legacy data systems will also become an imperative, and automated solutions that support any-to-any environment migration will play a critical role in the journey to the cloud. By embracing the right transformation technologies, enterprises can adopt the distributed cloud with minimal risk and tap into its benefits to innovate, reduce time to insight, and improve the customer experience.
Hari Kodakalla is vice president of cloud and data strategy at Impetus Technologies Inc. where he works with leading global enterprises to enable data warehouse modernization and cloud transformation. You can contact the author via email.