A Cloud with a grey lining

|August 24, 2015 0
Despite all the hype and market potential dotting its way, Cloud as a concept, is flanked with a multitude of issues. Are these issues spurring the tide or stopping it? We find out why Verizon calls it 'missing the bus'

Pratima H

INDIA: A couple of weeks back, Gartner from its 2015 CIO survey unveiled that even as Cloud is now a viable option for many IT projects (requiring infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders to expand the scope of systems as they actively consider those that are cloud-based), and even if for most CIOs, public cloud is an option for projects, it stays only a first consideration for a small minority.

The interesting part was this – I&O leaders have been more protective of their existing infrastructure and, in many cases, have been the biggest obstacle to cloud-based solutions, often resorting to cloudwashing as an excuse to not seriously pursue a true cloud-based solution.

Going by what the survey distilled, nine per cent of users were not even considering cloud computing for software-as-a-service (SaaS) projects, and that number spiked to 15 per cent for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) projects.

Cloud manages to stay at the top of the news stack for the industry – sometimes through the discount wars that AWS and Microsoft wage, sometimes owing to DIY guys whipping up home-grown clouds and sometimes through outage incidents.

Are aspects like legacy incumbency, commodtisation of servers, multi-tier networking, bad neighbourhood, billing complexity adding up as a third rail of sorts when it comes to Cloud’s on-ground trajectory? We catch up with Harsh Marwah, Country Manager, Verizon Enterprise Solutions India, who firmly believes that more and more number of CIOs are giving a ‘thumbs up’ to cloud after adopting a wait and watch policy for a long time,

What fuels this belief and where do the above-mentioned factors fit in the bus that has been missed? Let’s get the torrent started.

A quick word on Cloud adoption first – Is it happening? Not happening?

As to Verizon, it is banking on its cloud technology in a big way, especially for its Indian market. Look at some industry figures: Public cloud services market in India is expected to grow about 33 per cent to touch $838 million by the end of this year, driven by strong growth in cloud infrastructure and security solutions. Or see what a study conducted by Harvard Business Review’s latest Cloud report sponsored by Verizon, echoes: about 84 per cent increase in the use of cloud globally, while 40 per cent of the organizations are witnessing an increase in their revenues, due to cloud adoption.

The industry has kept moving to fundamental concepts – from mainframes to client-server technology to cloud, virtualization etc. Any new technology needs a few years to evolve. All players play their own roles in making it mature. Any technology solution which is not backed up by the right pricing models and ecosystem will not take off. Cloud has gone through the same journey.

Exactly how?

For instance, relational databases may not have been relevant for cloud so non-relational databases came up. Same way licensing models changed and application suitability evolved. In the last few years adoption has seen a massive change because the biggest hurdle of ‘control’ has been addressed. For CIOs the ‘miss the bus’ sentiment has caught up and cost modeling has evolved. The way large providers of cloud have been able to bring in economies of scale and passed it on to customers is significant. Therefore, licensing, SLA contracting models, control, business continuity, compliance, provision time etc have improved too and hence cloud adoption has improved. People do not and will not embrace technology for the sake of it unless they see strong operational and contracting model around it.

Yet – One on hand, we have examples like Zynga that have taken a U-turn on DIY Cloud route. On the other hand companies like Etsy have successfully leveraged commoditistaion of hardware. Which side do you see the trend picking?

One of the major hurdles that came in the way for large corporations was not security or cost but credibility, deep pockets, outages etc. My reading is that large corporations are looking at credible players. Some models will fail and some will succeed and that has nothing to do with Cloud. It happens in every industry and it’s all about how a model is played out. There could be companies coming up with niche applications on Cloud or companies with entire business models built on Cloud – provided they can do it right.

What impact does multi-tier networking play in a Cloud model? Specially since Verizon has a strong networking lineage?

Customers do not want a fragmented solution. It is about a robust network. Verizon is like a super-glue because it builds services together for a business requirement and it could be Cloud or network or infrastructure, but what matters is the end outcome.

Public clouds also run through billing complexity issues? Has that got to do something with the model or with the back-end?

When you bundle all services together, metering can get complex. But slowly maturity is emerging beyond these initial sets of issues. We are doing our homework very seriously to take away complexity that comes with bundling.

Do you come across perceptions around cloud-washing or how cloud could be just plain repurposing of virtualization?

Every single organization has its own risk and readiness profile. All CIOs who have not considered Cloud are not missing the bus anymore but have already missed the bandwagon because of the learning curve advantage that others have got. It is not just about blind following to Cloud but about business applications now. That said, Indian CIOs are tech-savvy and they are very learned with good decision-making built on a technology curve. They are not the ones for knee-jerk reactions.

Who is your competition – Legacy infrastructure, DIY infrastructure or other CSPs (Cloud Service Providers)?

The world is very complex and today it is a mix of compete and collaborate mindsets. All companies today can be competitors and partners as well. Verizon is in so many places today – from racks, cloud assets, public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud etc. In each domain we have specific competition but Verizon is a super-glue because the way we sell our services is bundled in a way that we can segment completion and collaboration.

How does Verizon’s strategy and portfolio align with current state of Cloud? Specially on leveraging networking strengths?

With connections to six cloud providers (Amazon, Google, HP, Microsoft, Salesforce and Verizon) and now three data center providers (Equinix, Verizon and CoreSite), Verizon’s footprint is one of the largest of its kind. The company today offers this service in the U.S., Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Our scope covers security, connected machines, mobile workforce, intelligent networking etc. We have also focused on large fat pipes which can be enabled in conjunction with a company to take care of networking required for MPLS needs, provisioning time and security factors. When data is on private networks, CIOs are relieved. It helps to get an MPLS-based enterprise network to connect seamlessly to public IP-based cloud infrastructure and Verizon aimed to solve that with its Secure Cloud Interconnect technology so that the public cloud is accessible from a private IP network.

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